“Self-care is how you take your power back.”
– Lalah Delia
Self-care is important for everyone, and when you are a survivor of bullying, it’s especially important. Unfortunately, it tends to be a struggle for someone who has been bullied to focus on self-care. One of the reasons for this is that we usually don’t feel worthy because we are suffering from low self-esteem. In addition, we’re usually too busy simply surviving and self-care can seem like a luxury that can’t be afforded.
Self-care, however, is one thing that can allow us to start feeling better and greatly aide our healing journey. As a bullying survivor myself, I recall times when my self-esteem was so low that I didn’t feel worthy of anything. I believed that if I was bullied for who I was then I must have been broken and flawed. These are the types of beliefs that bullying instills in us. And it’s these beliefs that keep us from living our life feeling worthy of anything good.
I blamed myself for having been bullied and have done things to sabotage myself as a result. I used to keep people at arms-length, which kept me from receiving the support I needed. I have played it small way too many times for fear of getting hurt. And I certainly have not always made myself a priority. I never used to know that it was okay to choose myself and to be selfish sometimes.
There are times when we need to be selfish and take care of ourselves first because we can’t live our best life and help others if we don’t do this. As is said, you can’t pour from an empty cup. And how do we fill that cup up? That’s right, through self-care.
I now have a note on my whiteboard that reminds me that it’s okay to choose me. I also have other reminders to take a break when I need one. I have dealt with anxiety enough and have struggled with stress management to the point where I understand the importance of self-care and have come to appreciate its benefits.
It’s the last thing we usually turn to when we are feeling stressed and overwhelmed, and it’s the first thing we should turn to. Making our well-being a priority is going to build our self-worth and self-esteem. It also lets others know that we value ourselves, which is important as a bullying survivor.
Below are some self-care practices I utilize and that you can easily try yourself to keep your cup from being empty.
1. Having a morning routine
My morning routine continually evolves to meet my needs, but the point is to spend your first waking moments on doing things that are going to set you up for a good day. Spending time on a morning routine makes you a priority and will allow you to be able to better handle the day. Try doing things like journaling, meditating, going for a walk, or sitting and reading. Make the time to fit in things that fill you up before you take on your day and it can make a huge difference in the type of day you have.
2. Limiting time spent on email and social media
This one has been really helpful for me because it allows me to control my time and focus. I check email and social media twice a day on my terms rather than receive a notification for a new message and then always feel like I’m in reactionary mode. Plus, spending too much time on social media can lead you to compare yourself to what others are doing and potentially develop all sorts of negative feelings from that.
3. Getting outside each day
I get outside by default because I have a dog and I recommend doing this whether you have a dog or not. Spending time outside and getting some sun can be very therapeutic for most people and can boost your spirits. It also allows you time to take a break from whatever’s going on inside and shift your perspective.
4. Disconnecting for one day each week
I like to take one day each weekend, and sometimes both days, to completely disconnect. I don’t check email or social media and I put my phone on do not disturb. This allows me time to recharge for the next week and makes me feel in control of my time.
5. Having dedicated time for myself each day
I make a point to set aside an hour every evening to simply unwind and relax. I may read or watch TV during this time. The point is that it’s my time to do whatever I’d like to do that is just for me. This is one of my favorites for self-care because there’s no agenda to worry about.
6. Saying no to things
This one can be especially difficult for someone who has been bullied because when we were bullied we had our boundaries violated, which makes it difficult to have boundaries now. Establishing boundaries can be very empowering, though, and a great way to practice self-care. We have choice now and we get to choose how we spend our time.
7. Taking a bath
It’s about the simple things. I love having a bath night each week. Taking the time to take a bath can be so rewarding and it sends us the message that we care about ourselves enough to indulge in something so relaxing.
8. Listening to music
Music has helped me get through some tough times and I make it a point to have some playing each day. It can be while I’m at my computer or driving, and it’s just a simple reminder that I’m doing something for me.
9. Exercising regularly
I set aside time in my schedule to make sure exercise is a priority. Exercising, or doing anything that is focused on improving your overall health, will make me feel good about myself and give you more confidence.
So those are some of my favorite self-care practices that I currently use that you may find helpful as well. The important thing is to realize that you are worthy of making yourself a priority, and to have a list of activities you can use for your own self-care. I also highly encourage making the activities you select a part of your routine. The best way to make sure you make self-care a priority is to schedule it in otherwise it’s likely to get pushed aside for other things. I hope that you’ll consider making self-care a tool in your healing journey if you haven’t yet as it can go a long way in rebuilding your self-esteem and self-worth. Let me know in the comments what some of your favorite self-care activities are or which ones you will make part of your routine.