Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Coping with Culture Shock, Part 1: Self Care

Several posts ago, I promised to write about how to deal with culture shock. Before I do, a disclaimer: I'm not an expert on this crap. I do, however, have a degree in psychology, so I can probably throw in some psychological vocabulary terms that make me sound competent. Let's be honest, that's probably how most unaccredited life coaches do it. That makes it sound like I hate life coaches, which is untrue. I'd love to be a life coach. This first post is about self care. Stick with me, because self care is useful for everyone, and I can make parts of it funny. 

Self care is the practice of deliberately initiating activities that keep you functioning. Some are necessary for everyone, like eating and sleeping. Others are more personal, like practicing hobbies, or religion. Self care has been critical for me in managing my mental and physical health here. It's taken me a while to figure out what I need to feel happy, and I'm still learning.

It was in college that I first consciously realized how important self care is. I made the discovery at 2am on a Friday morning, when my roommates returned from "Thirsty Thursday." Jordan (name has not been changed, she won't remember) was having a meltdown over a football player. Holed up in my room, trying to get some @#$%ing sleep before my 7:30 class, I heard the whole thing. "I want to die! I want to diiiiiiiiiiiiie." "Jordan, get off the floor." "NOOOO, I WANT TO DIE!!!!!"*banging noises, loud, drunk crying* "Please get off the floor." Ten minutes later, she was happily describing the event to her friend who had been called over. She said, laughingly, "And I was lying on the floor, yelling, 'I want to die.' Isn't that hilarious?!" 

I think we both figured out self-care that night. Jordan learned that seeking out friends is crucial when she's going through a difficult time, and I learned that I needed to move out if I didn't want to murder all of them. 

Good self care helps me stay on top of things. I'm able to get stuff done. I like this airplane oxygen mask analogy of self-care from a World of Psychology article. I like it so much, I put a frame around it, and decorated it in Microsoft paint.

Self care is essential, but figuring out what you need takes a bit of time. This self care flyer is a great starting point. You  might have seen it floating around the web a month or two ago. It originally came from Eponis|Sincope, a tumblr written by a person dealing with depression. I love the title.

Not all of these things apply to every person in every situation, and that's okay. You can make your own checklist, and include activities that improve your well-being. For example, for culture shock, I would add that if you're jetlagged, you should take a little nap. If you're overwhelmed from walking around outside, you should hide out in your house for a while. And if you're tired of feta cheese and Greek yogurt, you should find some fatty, overprocessed, delicious American food, and eat that.

Speaking from experience. 

Take care of yourself.

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