Welcome to Self Care Stories, a blog series showcasing how different people take care of themselves around the world. In our lives, we often forget to prioritize our own well-being. We hope that by reading these stories, you feel inspired to build your own self-care routines because your own care is important.
What's your background?
I am a 21-year-old hospitality worker who grew up in South Korea and now live in Brisbane, Australia. My hobbies include reading, singing, writing, and taking long walks.
What's your definition of self-care or what does self-care mean to you?
To me, self-care is the freedom to feel and process the emotions I've been ignoring in solitude. However, I have friends that I feel comfortable enough to ask for advice who will tell me if I'm starting to feel sadness, ruminating or wallowing in negative emotions, and validate my feelings. I can go on long walks by myself at a park, pause social interactions, read books without interruption, or spend time writing in my journal about what I am going through at the time.
Tell me your story. How do you practice self-care in your life?
When I was young, I was been emotionally and verbally traumatized, and bullying in school didn't help either. I've been depressed for almost 9 years, and recently, I've learned that self-care is important in keeping my mental health in check. For me, I withdraw from situations to process the factors that are overwhelming me without apologizing (something I'm learning to do) or pause social interactions such as not going to parties or meeting with a large group of friends, when I know I need to take care of myself. I start telling myself that I'm not being selfish and that my feelings and intentions are valid. I explain to people who need explanations, but overall, I find it easier to care for myself if I only keep in contact with a few of my closest friends. The post-traumatic stress symptoms are sometimes way too overbearing to handle while talking with a friend. At that moment in time, I make sure that I accept myself the way that I am feeling, feel belonging, and keep the connection within myself strong.
What makes taking care of yourself so important to you?
Self-care is especially important for me when the depressive episode worsens, or the stress symptoms put me in an autopilot mode which makes myself live in that moment of fear that I'd experienced over a decade ago. If I'm participating in social situations with more than 2 people, I find myself overly stimulated to even hold a shallow conversation. I need a break and space in order to disassociate from the triggers and associations that I'd made years ago, reminding myself that I'm not in that place anymore. I belong with myself and no one else.
If you had advice to give someone else on practicing self-care, what would it be?
I think self-care is a case-by-case scenario. Sure, there are some 'universal' suggestions, such as meditation, but they are just that - suggestions. You need to find the type of self-care that allows you to be yourself and to belong with yourself.
This series was created in collaboration with Self Caid. To find out more information on how to build a self-care routine, check out them out here.