A few weeks ago, my mom, my sister, my brother and I, took a last minute two-hour drive to Rhode Island for the weekend because we were craving the beach. This mini trip was important because regardless of the fights that occurred because that’s what siblings do and the leftover anxiety I was filled with due to the prior day’s political happenings, it was still a time to get away. It was still a time to unwind just a little. To breathe a little easier. This trip reminded me why it’s so crucial to do things for yourself. I’ve recently made a point to find some way to care for myself. Sometimes I give and give and then there isn’t anything left for me, and that’s not healthy and if you’re someone who struggles with the same thing listen to me when I tell you that finding something that is YOURS, that is your happy place, is vital to making yourself happy, and making your mental health happy. The ocean is not mine alone, but also it is. The waves are not mine alone, but also they are. The moon is not mine alone but also it is. They’re my happy places, my happy objects for lack of a better sentence. Find what is yours and use it.
I made a point to go camping more often this year because I love it. The year prior I spent one weekend at the usual campground, and it was the ultimate relaxation, and I knew this year I needed more. So I got two cabins, on two different weekends and had two different kinds of relaxation. The first weekend I was surrounded by friends, many of who are practically my family, from the moment I woke up until the moment I went to sleep, and even then they were there, and I love that. I love being surrounded by these people because they’re so good, and they’re real and I wouldn’t trade a single moment with any of them for anything. The second weekend there was only me, and one or two others, and in both cases it was exactly what I needed. I’m an introvert, through and through, so people are not always my thing, even if they’re my people. So the second go-around was a lot quieter, at least on Saturday, (and colder!), and I didn’t do much of anything but curl up in a ball, eat, drink, place a few games of chess and go for a few walks. Leading up to it I didn’t realize it, but It was exactly the me time ( plus the couple others) that I needed. I didn’t need to entertain anyone, my dear friend who spent most of Saturday with me never once made me feel guilty for being a little wrapped in just myself. I was feeling off, maybe an episode of depression or I was just so relaxed I was TOO relaxed, I really don’t know what to call it. But he did his own thing, and I did mine, and we came together a few times for the walks and the chess, but he let me do what I needed to do. Regardless of if that was what he was expecting or not, he let me go through this episode without guilt (even though I kept constantly apologizing!) and while I was already so grateful for his many years of friendship, I was even more thankful after that day.
I often feel lost, but the difference between now and then is that I know what I need now. I knew that I needed to surround myself with those people, with those friendships, it’s what my mental health needed, it was what my heart needed, it was what I needed. Sometimes it comes down to simply needing a reminder of the reasons you have to smile. Whether you’re reminiscing or making new memories, either way, it fills up your heart and relaxes your mind. And I’ll always be grateful that I have that.
More often than not we’re running around trying to do everything for everyone, and we forget that we need ourselves too. We forget that we need energy and love and care for ourselves and by the time we figure that out, we’re desperate for it, except it’s too late and we have nothing left for ourselves. I’m guilty of it all the time, and while I like helping people, feeling needed and doing things for others, I have to step back and remind myself that I’m important too. It took me a long time to realize that, and it’s still a struggle to force myself back and tell myself to take a moment, take a day, for just me. Sometimes I’ll take a trip to the ocean, or go camping. Other times I’ll get lost in a book or my favorite movie. Sometimes cooking a vegan dish or closing my eyes with my headphone in listening to my favorite songs is all the little me time I need. But regardless of how big or small your me time is, you have to take it. Buring yourself out helps no one, especially not you. So spend that hour by yourself. Spend that weekend away. Turn off your phone, close your eyes, do what you need to do for you, and I promise you, your mental, physical and emotional health will thank you for it.