'Self-care' is not a buzzword, for young women - it's essential

Sometimes you just lose it. Sometimes, it all gets a little too much. That moment happened to me. Four weeks straight of a Monday to Friday internship, coupled together with a 16-hour weekend job and intertwined with 8-hours of travel every week can prove challenging for a person.

Don’t forget, in between all of this, you have to make time for your boyfriend, family, friends, and dog. You have to eat, watch Love Island and then shave your legs. All of this, in my case, accumulated in a mini breakdown. I spent one hour wailing like a banshee listening to Drake and sending dramatic make-up smeared Snapchats to my nearest and dearest. Attention seeking at its finest, I know.

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I was exhausted and angry. Weak, unhappy and growing listless towards the ramblings of Drake and his secret child. However, it made me realise just how little I was looking after me.

Good, old-fashioned TLC

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Self-Care has become a buzzword, not something to be taken seriously. But for me, it was my saving grace. As young women, we feel the need to do absolutely anything and everything - without help. Societal pressures and the 'perfect social media life' contribute to this way of thinking.

We have become afraid to say no for fear of judgment. We don't even consider taking meaningful time-out. This has to stop. If you are not feeling your best, then how are you meant to conquer the world?

As I tentatively embarked on a new wave of self-care discovery, I realized that no self-help book or date with Google was going to look after me. It was good, old-fashioned TLC that I needed. I did seven things, and one week later I felt like a new woman, empowered and strong. I want to share those things with you.

Seven things

I cried. A good cry can heal all wounds. Personally, I like to wail loudly while watching The Top 10 Saddest Moments in Greys Anatomy but whatever works for you is best. A build-up of emotions is not good for anyone and the only way I found to release it was to let those salty tears flow. Trust me, let it all out and don’t be ashamed. You will feel weightless, refreshed and renewed.

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I ate better. Before my moment of self-care enlightenment, my diet was wayward. Skipping meals was an everyday occurrence and convenience took precedence over substance. I began to introduce more fruit and vegetables into my diet, made sure to eat three meals a day and cut down but didn’t completely eliminate the bad stuff. I ate a dodgy curry and had a bad bout of indigestion but that’s ok. A lot of this self-care malarkey is trial and error.

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I exercised. Being on the larger side of the breast size spectrum, running is not my friend. However, with all my might, I held onto my boobs with one hand and ran the length of Sandymount strand, proud, determined and fearless. My breath was heavy and my pores were sweaty but my head was instantly clearer. I was happier and more relaxed and felt like I could accomplish anything.

I slept. Pre self-care, I was running around in a sleepless haze. I was surviving on caffeine and not much else. The only time I really slept was on the train and this was a torrid affair, consisting of a wide-open mouth for the duration of most journeys. However, this week, I made sleep a priority. I don't nap but on an unexpected afternoon off, I napped for four hours. Although I woke up on the continent of confusion but I felt invigorated. My body had been crying out for sleep but I had been fighting it so very hard.

Related: 'When you're a mother, self-care is not a luxury but a necessity'

I treated myself. I went shopping. Now, I don’t think material gratification is the best medicine every time you have a bad day, but in this instance, I felt it was necessary. A lovely skirt or new foundation won’t solve all your problems but it will be a little reminder to you of all your hard work. We need to remember that these rare treats are justified, and everyone deserves to feel fabulous every once in a while.

I said no. Personally, I find it hard to say no. When I do, I feel guilt and worry that the people around me are harbouring violent thoughts centered in laziness and inconsideration. I am so inherently a 'yes' person it is frightening. I will say yes to just about everything. Jump off a cliff? Yes. Listen to 10 hours of techno even though you hate it and think it was curated by the devil? Yes. For my health, I had to divert my way of thinking. I had to say no to certain people, activities, and tasks. When it is so deeply ingrained in you to agree to everything, it is an extremely difficult habit to depart with. But to put yourself first is more important. And the very people you are afraid of disappointing, may, in the end, have more respect for you in doing so.

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I took a deep breath. I needed to remember to breathe and that everything would be ok. Panic comes naturally to me and I always worry that I am not doing enough. I worry that people around me are doing more and I will fall behind if I don’t keep up. Women, collectively, seem to think this way. But we are enough. We are amazing creatures, with fascinating minds and glaring courage and tenacity.

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And so, if you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed or worn, take some time out for you. Buy that dress, sleep for hours, get your nails done, be alone, whatever will help make you feel like yourself again. Be kind to yourself and remember, self-care, despite what they say, is the best care.

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