How I Spend My Self-Care Days

Living with a condition like AS is extremely draining, both mentally and physically. While medication can help manage the physical side of things (although it is not that easy and has its limits), the mental burden of living with a lifelong illness often goes unaddressed.

Consequently, we are left to find ways of dealing with the mental implications by ourselves. I find that taking self-care days are so essential in this battle for wellbeing.

The idea of self-care days is often discussed, but the actual definition is a little vague. For me, a self-care day is all about stepping away from absolutely everything and spending the entire day taking a load off and filling it with things that bring  me joy without diving too deep into the energy reserves.

Here is a breakdown of what exactly my self-care days usually consist of.

Low energy entertainment

The majority of my self-care days are spent in the horizontal position to recharge my batteries. But I find it important to keep myself entertained during this time. There are only so many naps I can take before I start to feel a little lethargic and depressed.

So, whilst I am letting my joints rest up, I watch shows that bring me joy without requiring a great deal of brain power and don’t bring up potentially triggering topics. So, I usually find myself binge watching trashy reality shows.

Lately, my go to self-care day show to watch has been Jersey Shore: Family Vacation. It brings back a lot of nostalgic feelings that I had for the original show which I used to love in my pre-diagnosis days. Plus, the plot is the furthest thing from complex, which means that I don’t have to use up a huge amount of spoons concentrating on what is unfolding.

Disconnecting from the world

Personally, I prefer to be alone with my thoughts during my self-care days with as little outside interference as possible. I’m not saying that my friends are out here intentionally causing me stress with their messages, but I turn my phone on "Do Not Disturb" mode to allow me to fully focus on myself.

It probably is a good idea to let your loved ones know about your temporary unavailability and that you aren’t ignoring them on purpose. I have had frank conversations with people in my life that I sometimes need a bit of a digital detox. When I do switch my notifications back on and use my phone again, I mention that my delayed reply was due to me taking some me-time.

I tend to stay away from things like social media and the news as well.  This way I can be more in control of my feelings by prevent anything from the outside triggering me into feeling a type of way.

Beauty rituals

I’m not sure if this makes me incredibly vain, but I find that doing things to improve my appearance does wonders to my mental health. There is something ever so therapeutic about having a fresh haircut and beard trim. I guess liking what I see in the mirror helps me feel a lot better about myself, so a lot of my self-care days include a trip to the barbers.

But if I don’t need a haircut or can’t find the spoons to drag myself outside to get one, then I improvise by opening up my own solo self-care salon in my apartment. That could be simply cutting my nails, putting on a face mask or having a bit of a pluck of my eyebrows that are always seemingly desperate to unite with another.

I know that I am not going to end my self-care days as South London’s next top model, but I am certainly going to be feeling as fresh and confident as possible after!

Keeping things healthy

I try to make sure that I am doing things that are good for my body too. This means I usually start my day with a nice long soak in a bathtub filled with Epsom salts before doing some form of movement or exercise. What kind of physical activity I take on that day depends completely on how my body is feeling and how much energy I have left in the tank. But I usually chose from doing some stretches, a workout with my resistance bands, or a walk around my local park with some relaxing music playing.

I usually try to eat extra healthily during my self-care days too. I find that as I spend a great deal of these days lying down, if I am to eat something greasy or unhealthy as a treat it actually tips the scale from feeling relaxed to feeling pretty lazy and disgusting. So, I tend to google a recipe high in vitamins and anti-inflammatory foods to try out. Or, if I don’t have the spoons to experiment then I will whip up one that I have tried that I know is a hit from a previous time.

But if you want to treat yourself to a your favourite calorific and carb loaded cheat meal, then fill your boots and don’t feel bad about it!

Don’t feel guilty

Which brings me onto the most important part - don’t feel guilty about anything you do or don’t do on your self-care days!

You may not choose to spend yours the same way in which I do. But whatever it is you decide to do, don’t stress yourself over the things that you have done to try and reduce your stress levels!

These days are all about unwinding, resting up and doing things that make you feel happy. It might feel like you are doing "nothing" on these days, but looking after your mental health and recharging your batteries is extremely important. This is not a luxury but a necessity that your body needs to carry on its fight against this awful condition.

Putting yourself first for a day does not mean that you are putting others last. You are simply getting yourself right so you can come back and have the strength and energy to be there for yourself and them another day.

How do you spend your self-care days? Let me know in the comment section below.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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