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Self-Care is Mental Health Awareness

By Aunty Social

Self-care to me is maintaining a balance between mind and body, but for a long time, I didn’t acknowledge the connection. I treated my body like it was disposable: I had an irregular diet, drank in excess, and adopted multiple vices as a shortcut to mask stress. I got stuck in a cycle of unhealthy habits used for temporary relief, stunting my emotional growth and mental wellbeing. It took me until I was 22 years old to begin to see the deeper-rooted problems. That realization opened the door to the resources I needed for healing. I am 25 now, no longer taking anti-anxiety medication. [Editor’s note: Consult with your doctor before making any changes to medication.] It has challenged me—especially during social distancing—to apply healthier coping mechanisms for the betterment of my mental health. 

I often overanalyze, dwelling on things I don’t have control over—which takes a lot of mental energy. The challenge for me has been to focus elsewhere, on more productive matters. I’m able to control that through a routine.

It took me three years to find a regimen that fits me. The journey of self-discovery can sometimes be difficult. The process of finding what works takes time and one size does not fit all. 

I take adaptogens like Rhodiola and ashwagandha to help reduce stress and anxiety. To ease tension from anxiety in my body, I try to do at least ten minutes if not a full hour of yoga stretches in the morning.

Planning my day makes it easier to conquer negative, intrusive thoughts. I’ve found that the morning is the most vital time. I avoid spending too much time on my phone, catch myself if I find myself looking at the ceiling trapped in thought. Instead, right when I get up, I immediately get out of bed to wash my face and brush my teeth. It's a gentle process where I take time to massage my facial muscles, cleanse my face, and cleanse my mind. During this time I take for myself, I set minimal short-term goals for the day. It can feel like an accomplishment just to shower and that, to me, makes it easier to pursue more complicated things like working on music or cooking a meal. 

I still have off days, but overall, using a routine, calendar, and notepad for to-dos are all things that keep me together and moving on a day-to-day basis. 

Photograph courtesy of Aunty Social; by Sina Al-Qamar
Written by Aunty Social for Youth To The People