I’m obsessed with a Tik Tok star.
It happened embarrassingly quickly. I found myself going to the app every day to see what “Gregism” posted. Greg Kata, an acting and voice teacher in NOLA, is incredibly funny, but he also has a key message I relate to on a deeper level. At the end of each daily video, Greg encourages his audience to “Find Your Joy.”
Greg’s message reminds me of this quote, which I truly believe.
Some days it’s more difficult to find your joy than others, which is how I became a daily Tik Tok user to start with. Tik Tok became part of my daily self-care when the pandemic hit. I needed the mindless scrolling and hilarity of Tik Tok videos to take my mind off of the negative, frightening world. I needed the snarky moms, funny dances, adorable dogs, and Greg to get me through the days.
I’m not the only one who has found new forms of self-care during the pandemic. Apparently an unusual number of you are now loyal to some baking show I’ve never watched. Mindless TV is one of the most common self-care methods I’ve heard about during this difficult time. It makes sense since we’re all stuck at home.
I’ve written about the negative impact of the pandemic on our mental health, specifically related to college students (See “The Kids Are Not Alright” and “The Kids Are (Still) Not Alright” for more on that.). Now that we’ve made it through (or are finishing up) another unusual semester and moving into the holiday season, it’s a good time to remind ourselves of what self-care is and how we can do it.
What Is Self-Care?
The most important thing you should understand about self-care is that there’s no right or wrong way to do it.
Self-care is anything you do to take care of yourself.
This means self-care looks different for everyone. My self-care may be reading a book in a bubble bath surrounded by candles, while my husband’s self-care is relaxing in front of the television. Your self-care may be that baking show, or baking itself, and that’s just fine.
Self-care also may look different for you at various times. Sometimes I just need to sit and cuddle with my dogs. Other times, I need to clean my house.
What self-care consists of really depends on the person and the time.
Still not sure what self-care looks like for you in this season? Below are some methods you may consider for taking care of yourself.
TALK IT OUT
The professional term for talking about your feelings regarding a traumatic happening is “debriefing.” It helps. Talk to a trusted family member, a friend, a significant other or a coworker. Just putting your concerns, fears and sadness into words helps you feel better.
WRITE and reflect
There is a substantial amount of research showing journaling is positive for mental health because it helps you process situations, understand your actions and focus on the positive. Writing might be especially cathartic for journalists. I’ve seen a lot of people encouraging journaling right now because we’re experiencing something we never have before and hopefully never will again.
We’ve all heard about the pandemic weight gain. Heck, many of us are experiencing it, but what you put into your body matters for your emotions. Eating well and drinking plenty of water will help your physical and mental health.
Try to maintain a regular sleep pattern as well as you can. Tiredness can compound emotions and make you feel even more overwhelmed. Sleep is tied directly to mental health. It also can be indicative of mental health concerns. Getting more sleep might be a lot easier during the holiday break. Try to create routines now that you can stick with when the new semester begins.
We know exercise releases endorphins that result in a positive mood. Exercise also makes you more emotionally healthy. I get it if you don’t love exercise. I don’t either, but the benefits make it worth doing. Stick to as regular an exercise routine as you can, even if you have to force it.
What helps you relax? Whether it is lighting a scented candle, taking a bath, playing with your puppy, getting a massage or watching a good movie, spend time doing the things that help you relax. Engaging in relaxing activities may be a lot easier to do during the holidays when you have fewer work- and school-related tasks to complete.
ENGAGE IN A HOBBY
Do something you love to do. Hobbies like listening to music, dancing, painting, and gaming help you become a more well-rounded person and give you time to think about something except all of the negative happening in the world right now. Of course, we have to think about social distancing right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still find a way to enjoy a hobby you love or find a new one.
PRACTICE YOUR FAITH
People with strong religious beliefs are more resilient than those without. If you are a person of faith, times of uncertainty are a natural time for you to cling to and actively practice that faith. There are many mental health benefits associated with strong spiritual beliefs.
FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE
When the sheer amount of negativity is getting to you, focus radically on the positive aspects of your life and the world around you. Science shows that focusing on the positive increases happiness and makes us view the world in a more positive light. Consider making a list (or a daily list?) of things that make you feel happy. If you’re healthy right now, you certainly want to put that on your list.
LIMIT Media Consumption
I hardly ever recommend this common self-care practice because I understand that we’re journalists and this one seems near impossible. But there is a lot of media we consume when we aren’t working that has nothing to do with our jobs. Know yourself well enough to understand when you’re at your limit. Take a break and step away from things like television news or social media that constantly remind you of what’s happening right now. Yes, it’s important to stay informed, but you don’t need real-time, non-stop detail.
Plan “you” time
Time for yourself probably won’t just happen by accident. Normalize scheduling time for yourself or to do things you enjoy. Keep those appointments with yourself and guard that time like you would if you booked it for someone else.
Take time off
I know those of you in student media will find it difficult to take time off during the break. You’ll be getting extra hours at work to save up for next semester or working on anything you can to help get a head start on next semester. It’s ok to try to accomplish a few things during the break, but don’t forget to take time off. You need and deserve a break.
Find Your Joy
It is a difficult and unprecedented time. We all have to make self-care a priority. I hope this post gives you some ideas on how to care for yourself or at least reminds you that you need to do so. I think Greg would agree with me encouraging you to take this holiday season to find your joy.