Today, I’m going to share some creative self-care ideas. Over the years, I have been told everything from ‘you should exercise and eat healthy’ to ‘binge-watch Netflix and eat popcorn.’ There are so many activities that count as self-care, and this past summer, I wanted to try several new strategies. Some are free, and others cost money.
Float therapy, also known as sensory deprivation therapy, is an activity where you lie down in a tank filled with water and so much Epsom salt that you float on the surface. It sounds weird when you think about it, but for me, it was an incredibly relaxing experience. I entered a meditative state and was able to clear my mind from worries. The water is warm, about the same temperature as your skin. When you’re in the float tank, all distractions are removed, which means that there are no light or visual stimuli (although some float rooms offer a starry ceiling). Floating therapy has benefits like reduced blood pressure, lower stress levels and can help with decreasing joint/bone pain. It can also help with a range of mental health concerns. Overall, I found that floating helped both my mind and body. I highly recommend giving it a try!
One of the things I did this summer was book a bunch of massage therapy appointments with a registered massage therapist (RMT). Massage therapy has many benefits, as you can already guess. For me, it helps with relaxation as well as neck/back/shoulder pain (all due to my constant need to carry a backpack!). Massage therapy can be costly, so I suggest you use your extended health benefits. Alternatively, Langara’s program of massage therapy includes a student clinic where you can receive treatment at lower rates. I’ve been there several times and the quality of care I received was just as good as going to see my regular RMT, if not better! The clinic also offers other treatment like holistic aromatherapy.
I love going to the spa and although it is expensive, I can afford it once in a while as a way to treat myself. Going to the spa can be a positive experience for many, although not everyone likes that kind of environment. If you’re into facials, manicures and other body treatments, going to the spa is a great activity for you! Vancouver Community College has a student clinic where you can get services at reduced prices (though this service is suspended for now due to COVID-19).
Another thing I did this summer to take care of myself was contact UBC Student Health services and book an appointment to request a blood test. Sometimes changes happen in the body and you might not be aware of them. Regular blood tests are beneficial because they can provide information about your health. For me, I like to know my blood counts and my iron, vitamin B12 and thyroid levels. If this is something you want to do, make an appointment with a general practitioner to discuss what tests would be best for you.
Being around pets
I’ve always been an animal lover so being around dogs and horses has always brought me joy (I am allergic to cats, unfortunately). Being around animals can lower your stress levels and boost your mood. I am lucky because several of my friends own dogs, so I can get a good amount of dog cuddles. However, there are other ways to connect with animals. If you are looking for a commitment and are able to take on responsibilities, you can foster an animal through a non-profit organization (I spent my morning filling out applications!). You can also hang out at dog parks, and in my experience most pet owners are more than happy to let their pets sniff you. When I meet strangers with dogs I always get so excited! They truly make my day.
If you’re into apps, there are several that can help you take care of your mental health. Here’s a few that have been helpful to me in the past:
- 7M workout
- Here2Talk (available to all BC students)
- MindShift CBT (created by AnxietyCanada)
- CBT-I Coach
That’s it for now! Self-care is extremely important, so I hope some of you get the chance to try some of these options. Good luck!
The authors of this column are not mental health professionals. If you need additional support, please contact Student Health Services, the Sexual Assault Support Centre and/or the Wellness Centre. In case of an emergency, call 911.