When I’m looking for advice on how to better your mental and physical health, I tend to come across self-care articles that tell me how to better my appearance. A new haircut, better makeup or skincare, some fresh nail polish. If I look a little like Kendall Jenner, maybe the rest of my life will fall into place. That oughta do the trick, right? Well, not always. Though it’s true that looking nice can help us feel good, conforming to beauty standards doesn’t solve all our problems in the long run. Here are 5 self-care tips that don’t prey on our beauty standards.
This self-care tip sounds easy, but if you’re stressed or inactive, this can be a hard feat. Don’t stay up until 1 AM finishing an assignment, just quit it and go to sleep. Your health is more important than academics. That can be a scary concept for some people, and you might not be able to sleep because you’re so stressed. In that case— and I know it sounds silly— try some guided meditation for sleep. There are a lot of options and playlists on Spotify that can help you unwind. Also, I know you’ve heard this before, but limit screen time before bed!
2. Limit Social Media
The ever-present idea that someone has accomplished way more than you ever could is heavily facilitated by your Instagram account. Close the app and talk to friends instead! They will tell you how wonderful you really are; they will give you better self-care tips than Buzzfeed. Stop comparing yourself to others and move at your own pace. Wear the clothes you want, not the ones you think you need to. Skip the makeup application and see how you feel. Always remember that most of the time, people only post about their successes. It doesn’t mean you’re falling behind. Whether it’s careers, beauty, or accomplishments, the success of other’s should not devalue your progress as an individual.
3. Have a “Nothing” Day
If you’re an undergrad student like me, this probably sounds impossible. Let’s be real, sometimes it is impossible to do nothing all day. But sometimes you’re so exhausted that doing nothing is actually more productive than forcing your mind and body to perform. All it wants to do is rest, let it. If you’re feeling overemotional, weak, tired and heavy, or just really foggy, that’s your body telling you to rest. Take the time to sit and do nothing, or do something that requires minimal effort, like watching YouTube videos or listening to music. These things don’t require your physical energy as much as studying
4. Go for Walks
Even if you don’t work out every day, or you think yoga is the most boring thing in the world, you should go for a walk at least three times a week. I know, you’re thinking: But I already commute and walk to all my classes! Try going for a walk that doesn’t take you anywhere. This observation and gentle exercise is self-care. Don’t rush, just let your feet carry you through your city or town or wherever it is that you live. Walking can increase your productivity because you’ve moved your muscles and got your blood flowing. I recommend going for walks alone, or with someone you’re really close to, so you can either get silent self-reflection time or talk about your feelings with someone you trust.
5. Attend to Yourself
This is broad, but it’s the most important. Treating yourself kindly is self-care. Pay attention to what you need. Life gets so busy our responses to things become automatic. I think we have to stop and think, how am I actually feeling right now? What have I done today that I’m proud of? I am happy with myself today, and if not, what’s causing this restlessness? The body is different than beauty. Beauty is an image we create, an idea we want our bodies to mould to. Attending to the body, whether it’s hair-washing, exfoliating, or nail-clipping, caring for the body can help us feel refreshed and more human. So I’m not saying that a new haircut, better makeup or skincare, some fresh nail polish won’t help you do that, maybe it will. Self-care depends on what you feel you need to be the best version of yourself you can be. And by your standards, not Kendall Jenner’s, or anyone else’s.