Yesterday wasn’t a nice day, in the low 20’s with clouds that came almost half way down the canyon where I live. I bundled up, strapped on my snowshoes, and called the dogs. We set out on a familiar trail, one we walk at least 4 times a week.
At first, it was gorgeous. The moisture from the clouds clung to the trees. It made the spruces along the trail look like a forest of flocked Christmas trees from the 60’s. I took a left and climbed up toward the highest point on the hike. Before I really noticed what was happening, the clouds had lowered. I was lost.
For those of you that haven’t walked into a cloud before, it’s disorienting. It’s hard to know where the ground ends and the sky begins. It made me a little dizzy.
Dizzy makes me anxious. I think about all of the things I have to do, all of the people I love, I think about losing all of it and all of the things I have to do. My heart pounds, my breathing gets fast and my vision blurs.
Which is how I think most of us are feeling in general right now. It’s hard to see the trail forward and hard not to panic and feel lost.
I knew better than to move or run until I’d calmed down. We’ve all heard stories where people get lost in their own backyards when they panic in a blizzard. I’ve never been sure if those stories are true or not, but I’m sure the part about not panicking was true.
My next move was-do nothing. Stand where I was, close my eyes, slow my breaths and wait for the anxiety to pass.
And sure enough, once I was calmer I could see more. I noticed the bits of brush at the edge of the trail, a rock that I’d passed before, the way my legs felt when they were going down the hill. All I needed was to take of myself first, then deal with navigating myself and the dogs home. I practiced self care.
Self care is essential
Self care. It seems as obvious as putting on your own oxygen mask first so that you can help others. Yet, in the past few years self care has become synonymous with self indulgence.
It’s not. At its core, self care is taking good care of yourself for your own sake as well as so that you are fit to take good care of others in your life.
When you don’t take good care of yourself, you feel stressed, burned out, and depleted. You don’t feel like yourself. Let it go on long enough and your health will suffer (or you’ll be lost in the fog…).
There are certain things, like sleep, good nutrition, and exercise that we all need to survive and thrive. These are the essentials.
There are other elements of self care that you might be able to survive without, but you probably wouldn’t want to. I call these the non-negotiables. When you don’t take care of your self care non-negotiables regularly, your mental and physical health can suffer.
The way I see it, there are two categories of self care. The essentials which are non-negotiable, and the luxuries. Luxuries make you feel great but they’re not something you need to do every day.
Many activities can act as self-care
The idea is to focus on yourself and create some me-time. Do you know what your non-negotiables are?
For me, regular exercise, time in nature, writing in my journal, keeping in touch with my friends and family, and taking good care of my body and skin are my non-negotiables.
Skin care is self care
Skin care is an excellent example of self care because it’s also important for skin health. Two birds with one stone, so to speak.
For me, it’s time I take for myself, twice a day. I put everything else on hold and just focus on myself. I breathe deeply, enjoy the feel of warm water on my face, the pat of my soft towel, and the luscious scents and feel of my serums and creams.
Using skin care as self care appeals to me because it deepens “taking care of my own skin” from superficial fear-based activity to something that nourishes me.
As women we’re constantly given the message that the way our faces age is a problem and one that we had better figure out how to solve. I prefer to accept aging as a positive thing, not something to “solve” or fear or prevent.
Skin care is a way of saying to myself that I count too, I’m worthy of being cared for, of spending time and money on. It improves my confidence and my outlook on life in positive ways.
The bonus is that in the process, I look better too.
When my skin feels good, I feel happy.
Allowing yourself to spend the time and effort on something like a skin care routine is a first step in better understanding how proper skin care and self care can affect your mental health.
Skin care and mental health
Skin care is an important facet of mental health.
As one woman said of her new skin care routine, “It’s kind of gross to admit this, but some days I’m so down I don’t even feel like taking a shower or brushing my teeth. My skincare pushes me to do other basic self-care things because I actually want to get out of bed and go to the bathroom and use all my products.”
Adapting a self-care routine, like a skin care routine, can break through a self care barrier (and many of us have these-they are the guilt you feel when you do something nice for yourself) and support other self-care activities. A slkin care routine increases feelings of self-worth and of being taken care of.
Research shows self-care habits like skin care routines, journaling, spending time with pets or even going for a walk can also help ease stress when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just be careful if you’re walking into a cloud.
It’s can be a trial and error process to figure out what self care activities calm you and help you feel good. It’s worth the effort.
Self care is a way of treating yourself well, and consists of small and large acts. Essentials and non-essentials. It can be allowing yourself to sit on the couch and read a good book, getting a massage, slowing down and taking care of your face, or stopping, calming yourself down and forgiving yourself for getting lost in the clouds.
Ultimately, it’s about making yourself and your well-being a priority.
I encourage you to practice self care and adapt a regular skin care routine to support it. SunWindSnow offers bundles of products at a discount and step-by-step instructions to get you started.