February 12, 2021
Valentine’s Day is a holiday that for centuries has been celebrated between couples, from the exchanging of gifts to the constant declaration of one’s love to another. It is a holiday traditionally dedicated to the love between two people, love given to and received by others. This seems fine on the surface, even sweet, but we forget one important kind of love without which the very concept of Valentine’s Day may not have been given as much importance. After all, how can we love another, if we cannot love even ourselves.
“…Valentine’s [Day] isn’t specifically between two people; it’s about love and care…it’s a time where you can express love for anybody, whether that is for yourself, your body, your mental health, or for others, whether it be a significant other or a friend,” said Gloria Yun, senior at Atholton High School and president of the Our Minds Matter Club.
Especially with everything that has been happening throughout the past year, self-care is more crucial now than ever. The mental health of teenagers have been greatly impacted due to the quarantine that began in March, having to socially distance from friends and other peers, and now due to the pressures of conducting school online. Of course, mental health has always been an issue that has affected many teenagers, but recently, as the stresses of daily life have greatly increased, it has worsened.
According to a report by the CDC in August 2020, 40% of U.S adults were reported as struggling with mental health or substance use. Among that 40%, more respondents aged 18-24 were found to have seriously considered suicide in the 30 days prior to the report than other age groups. Along with this, the National 4-H council and a research and analytical company called The Harris Poll released a 4-H mental health survey which found that in the events of this past year, 7 out of 10 teens have experienced struggles with mental health.
These horrific figures demonstrate the increased need for self-care and self-love. Now, more than ever, teens need a way to cope with the stresses in their lives and in the world at large. Taking time for yourself every day can make a world of difference and can truly help your mental health in the long run.
Atholton senior Kathereen Osse explained that self-care is simply about “doing what makes you happy.”
If done right and with consistency, self-care can become a powerful tool in one’s life. It helps you to center yourself and take a deep breath when things get overwhelming. We, as teenagers, are so used to being overworked and having our mental health diminished or ignored, that even we hold this view against ourselves. Self-care has never been something held in high regard. It has always been seen as something that needs to be worked towards or earned, but in truth it is an act of survival. It needs to be valued as a necessity.
With Valentine’s Day coming up, here are 10 self-care ideas to help you destress and give yourself a break from the crazy world we live in:
1. Listen to calming music
This could be anything from classical music to jazz or lo-fi beats to help you relax. A study by neurologist Dr. Michael Schneck, a neurologist with Loyola Medicine in Chicago, found that classical music can help reduce anxiety and depression. Of course, you can listen to any style of music you like.
2. Watch a movie
Personally, I find comedies and feel good movies to be especially effective at helping me destress, but really any genre of movies can make for a great self-care method.
3. Get into journaling
Writing down your thoughts can really help cope with mental health issues. Just seeing your feelings written down on a page for only your eyes to see can be comforting.
4. Read a good book
Reading a book that you love can be calming, especially as it gives you something to take your mind off of upsetting or stressful events in your life. Fantasy novels or series can really help keep your mind occupied and distracted. If you’re not into that, then self-care books work too.
5. Take a nap
Sleeping is always good! Taking a nap in the middle of the day is a great way to recharge and take a break from school, work, or anything else that requires lots of concentration.
6. Take a walk outside
Being in nature can be very calming and especially since we’re inside for most of our day due to Covid, taking a walk around our neighborhood from time to time and just breathing in the fresh air can really help clear your mind and relax.
7. Take up gardening
As stated above, being in nature can help you feel better, but gardening takes it up another level. Simply being among plants and feeling and touching soil can help you feel connected to something greater than yourself. Also, gardening can help increase your levels of serotonin, which is a kind of happy chemical (permaculture.com.au).
Exercising or working out is a great way to help you truly connect with your body and build emotional stamina. It also causes lots of changes in the brain, including neural growth and the release of endorphins, a chemical in your brain that makes you feel good (helpguide.org).
9. Bake or cook
The simple act of creating something can make you feel accomplished and proud, and of course food is always amazing.
Yes, cleaning seems like a chore, but it can also be quite calming. There’s a good feeling that comes from cleaning something and seeing the result of your work. You could even put on music to make cleaning feel less like a task and more like self-care.
This Valentine’s Day, take some time to do things that you love and appreciate your body and spirit and mind. Look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself how beautiful you are, because you are. You are worthy of care and happiness. This can’t be said better than in the words of Gloria Yun, who said, “confidence and self-love is something that everybody deserves. It’s not something that should be earned; it’s something that you should have for yourself consistently throughout all of your life.”