On self-care during quarantine

Photo by Ksenia Makagonova on Unsplash
Note: This is a guest post by my dear friend, Kafui Mensah.

As we all know, it can be challenging to practice self-care in the midst of everything that grabs at our attention on any given day.

Whether you’re juggling a career and a social life, or school and hobbies, or just trying to make it to bed at a decent hour, the busyness of life is often not conducive to the development of a self-care routine.

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Happiness is other people

Photo by Rob Curran on Unsplash

For the longest time, and I mean for a really long time, I full-heartedly endorsed the famous quote from Jean-Paul Sartre, hell is other people.

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So much so, I wrote it on a dry-erase board and hung it in my room. I scribbled it in my journal. I recited it in my head occasionally to remind myself that all my emotional anguish was caused by other people.

Inspired by the happiness industry, the idea that happiness is your own personal choice, and if you work on yourself enough you’ll find it, I embarked on the pursuit of happiness solely focused on me, myself and I.

Continue reading “Happiness is other people”

My best mental health tip— take a break


I’m currently on a three-month-long, and ongoing, hiatus from the adulting world. It is funded solely with my F**k-Off fund, and living back at home with my parents.

I’m loving it!

It has been over two years since I took a break to recharge, revaluate and rejuvenate, a practice that began circumstantially back in 2015 and has since become a cherished ritual.

The best times of my life have come right after taking a break from it all.

Long Term Breaks

Growth is never by mere chance.

— James Cash Penney

If you can afford to, financially and otherwise, a long term break from adulting can be an amazing experience.

A long term break could range anywhere from a month to a year, or even longer.

What really matters is that during the break, you remain free from work, obligations, responsibilities, and plans that create stress and anxiety in your life. Instead, you create the space to rejuvenate and regroup so that you can make decisions that better align with your needs and desires moving forward.

It might be scary at first, especially if your identity is heavily tied to your job, being a student, or any other societal metrics of success. Once you overcome these mental hurdles, however, you could go one to have one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.

My first long term break happened after the third-year of my undergraduate degree. After returning back to my parents’ for summer, and unable to find a decent summer job, I decided to take a break.

After being in school and/or working for most of my adolescent years, it was hard not to be doing neither of those things. It is hard to define yourself in our society if you’re not working or in school. 

It made me feel very insecure. I soothed my ego by telling myself I got the rest of my life to work and be a real adult.

Following that summer break, I had one of the most productive, successful and rewarding years. I did extremely well academically, worked two jobs, had two volunteer positions, and even managed a decent social life. In addition, with encouragement and support from one of my professor, I applied and got accepted into graduate school.

It wasn’t until a few years later that I realized how important that summer break was.

Taking a break, and spending a lot of time resting and contemplating what I wanted out of life, ended up being a catalyst for my success the following school year.

Short Term Break

Often times, the daily hustle and grind mean taking a long term break can seem too idealistic, or be outright impossible. If taking a long term break isn’t feasible, a short term break can be just as refreshing and rewarding.

Short term breaks are a lot more palatable to most. After all, taking a week or two off to recharge sounds appealing and is doable for most people.

It is, however, very important that we actually dial back and take a break during this time. Take time off from work, obligations, responsibilities, and plans that create stress and anxiety.

The first semester of graduate school and everything else that was going on at that time broke me down emotionally. Undoubtedly, it was one of the worst times of my life.

Luckily, right after finals, we had two weeks off and I gave myself permission to take a break. I made zero plans and disregarded goals and commitments. For two weeks, I allowed myself to sleep in, eat junk, and waste time on whatever I wanted.

No planning for, nor worrying about, the future.

When I returned to school, I was feeling very refreshed and motivated.

I was super focused on school and work, created routines and structure to manage my schedule without feeling overwhelmed and started working out regularly. My mental health improved so much, which fuelled me to be even more focused and productive. I graduated, found a job within my field and my relationships flourished.

Taking two weeks off to myself was all I needed to recharge and recover from a very challenging time in my life.

These past three months have brought many changes and I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to take another extended break. 

I have been super focused on taking care of my physical and mental health and planning for future career and life goals.

My break will be over once I get back from a month-long trip to Vancouver in mid-November.

I am actually really looking forward to getting back to the hustle of adulting, knowing a little more about myself, a little more sure of what I want, and feeling super rejuvenated.

Whether you take a long term or a short term break, it’s important to take some time for yourself to relax and rejuvenate.

There are so many resources online on self-care ideas and activities that you can use to recharge. I also recommend reading psychological and philosophical books, articles and literature to learn more about being human. It is a game-changer.

Take a break, and do not feel guilty about it. It is the best mental health tip I have found.

Until next time… 🙂

10 radical self-care ideas

“I just be eatin’, poopin’, chillin’, and cuddlin’ with the humans.” – Bach on his radical self-care routine

There is certainly no shortage of self-care ideas to browse through on the World Wide Web, advising us to meditate, walk-in nature, or get a massage, body scrub, facial or book yourself into a spa for a day or weekend.

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I’m very indulgent when it comes to self-care. I, too, love spending $7 on Starbucks latte to treat myself, although I cannot get into meditation to save my life.

As I admitted in a previous post, 4 radical digital detox ideas, I am obsessed with radical ideas and prefer the unconventional approach when it comes to practicing self-care.

Below are 10 radical self-care ideas I practice and find to be the most useful, in no particular order of importance.

1. Make a list of personal policies to live by.

Moving forward, one of my personal policies for this year is I will only tip based on service, and not just to avoid being stereotyped.

It is extremely demeaning to tip after receiving inferior service just to avoid contributing to the stereotype.

While on the topic, avoiding certain establishments where I feel un-welcomed at is also part of the list.

WATCH: How to set Personal Policies for a Better 2019

2. Do not do things that leave you feeling bitter.

For instance, don’t hang around people that leave you feeling bitter, whether it’s because they drain you of your energy, or it’s because you envy them.

Ask yourself, do I feel energized and motivated, or exhausted and bitter, after spending time with this person?  

3. Quit your job if it’s draining you.

 NO ONE ever said, ‘I wish I stayed at that job that was making me extremely miserable.

Like, ever.

4. Give a damn about giving a damn.

The world is full of cynical, lazy assholes.

It’s cowardly.

Instead, stand for something. Believe in something.

Aim at something, even if badly.

5. Show yourself some tough love.

Self-love is important and all, but what about tough-self-love? My favourite saying is, ‘But, did you die though?’ 

6. Quit the news altogether.

Right after the election, Erik Hagerman decided he’d take a break from reading about the hoopla of politics. Donald Trump’s victory shook him. Badly. And so Mr. Hagerman developed his own eccentric experiment, one that was part silent protest, part coping mechanism, part extreme self-care plan.

I’m almost forgetting what Trump is.

7. Accept that life is suffering.

Then, do awesome things that make the suffering worth it.

8. Give in.

Sometimes, the only thing left to do it to give in to the feeling(s). Take a day, a week, or a month off. Contemplate life. Have multiple existential crises. Cry hysterically. Then, laugh hysterically ’cause life is so bizarre.

Start over.

9. “Invent your life over if it doesn’t feel juicy.”

Be radically innovative.

10. Be more like Bach

Pictured above.

For more radical self-care ideas, read: 20 ways I keep myself mentally healthy