Mind, Body, Soul: Why We Need To Put More Importance On Self-Care & Well-Being 💫

Words: Chanté Joseph
Illustration: Willkay

I knew that the deep anxiety I felt on a Sunday night as the intensity of the week ahead loomed was a shared feeling. We’ve all been there; sometimes, you only begin recovering from the stress of the week before, and it all starts again. According to a study by the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities, 74% of people aged between 18 and 24 experience “heightened anticipatory anxiety” as the weekend ends and Monday is closer than we’d like. On Sunday and Monday, people turn to the internet to Google ‘anxiety’ and ‘feeling sad’ because we’re all going through the same thing, so don’t feel ashamed if the Sunday Blues feel like a ritual. In many cases, the fear of Monday becomes a rolling ball of anxiety that dominates my entire week, which can become unbearable. However, the NHS campaign, Every Mind Matters, is helping to tackle those feelings through its new initiative, Self Care Sundays. The campaign is about developing an anxiety-beating routine that helps you control those huge emotional fluctuations at the start and throughout your week.

Anxiety varies depending on who you are and how you respond to stress. It is universally understood as a feeling of unease that can manifest as fear or worry brought on by difficult situations or experiences. Sometimes, you can just feel anxious and not really understand why but that doesn’t make it any less valid or real. I know I can avoid engaging with those emotions at all costs when I feel anxious. I’d rather bury myself in the depths of TikTok and lose myself in podcasts than deal with that mountain of worry sitting on my chest. However, I’m getting better at tackling that by understanding where my anxiety comes from, journaling and making space to sit with my emotions. I also find it helpful to shift my focus, not by distracting myself but by trying to concentrate on the present rather than obsessing over future circumstances I can’t control. For some, being present looks like meditation or deep breathing; for me, it’s colouring and housework. I often find myself tidying up when overcome with anxiousness because when my space is clear, my head is clear too.

When I feel the anxiety peaking on a Sunday, I go into self-care mode and start finding ways to walk myself back from the proverbial ledge. I always start by reminding myself of the Audre Lorde quote, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation.” I know that being the best version of myself requires time and focus. Treating myself with compassion is neither selfish nor a waste of time. I always start with cooking—it’s a nourishing and enjoyable experience that grounds me and makes me feel productive. Secondly, Sundays get a bad rap because the week ahead can hold so much; it feels insurmountable at points.

However, we don’t need to do everything simultaneously—Monday’s not the only day of the week. Taking time to plan your week, breaking things down into small tasks and being realistic about what you can and can’t achieve will help you feel less overwhelmed. Spending time on a Sunday going on a stroll and catching up with friends eases my fears because I realise we’re all going through it at the same time and make plans to link up in the week, so we have something to look forward to—the fresh air and exercise are good too. One of the most important things I do is limit my screen time an hour before bed and replace it with reading a book or journaling. A friend once told me nothing interesting happens online after 9pm, and she hasn’t been wrong yet—just put the phone down and spend some time with yourself.

Claira Hermet is a presenter, host and Self-Care & Confidence Coach, and she has kindly created a self-care playlist to assist us in these new routines as well as sharing her tips for managing that anxiety. “If the concept of self-care is brand new to you, then a great place to start would be tuning into your needs and wants, both small and large,” she explains. For Hermet, self-care is all about interrogating your feelings and giving yourself what you really need instead of performing random self-care rituals. “A great way to do that is to turn off the TV, put on some relaxing music, take a pen and notebook and ask yourself some questions. For example: ‘How am I feeling right now?’ ‘What would I like to feel different/better about?’ ‘How am I feeling about myself?’ ‘How would I like to feel about myself?’ ‘What steps/actions can I take to feel better?’ ‘What brings me joy?’ This is a brilliant way to understand why you feel the way you do. Once you know this, solving it becomes much easier. Self-care is self-love, and this isn’t some woo-woo, super-feminine concept: it’s what we all need and something we all have the ability to cultivate. Self-love is loving ourselves as we love other people, wanting the best for ourselves as we want the best for all those we love.”

Posted on October 20, 2022