Accept What Is: A Guide To Self-Care

When I was 13, I moved to a new state and I completely lost who I thought I was. The following year, I attempted to commit suicide because I was so uncomfortable in my own skin. At 15, I learned the phrase “self-love,” and I devoted my time to figuring out how to sculpt my mind so I would feel at ease with myself. When I was 16, I came up with the idea of putting a self-love jar in my favorite coffee shop (the Greenhouse on Porter) in which people could list things that they love about themselves. The self-love jar was wildly successful, and had to be emptied weekly because so many people had put note cards in it. I found comfort in the idea that self-love existed. But now that I’m 17, I realize that self-love alone will not do much for your mental health in the long run if you don’t take care of yourself, and not everyone is emotionally ready to love themselves. 

For the times that you cannot bring yourself to appreciate who you are, here are 17 tips that I have learned over my 17 years of life to help you get where you need to be.

17. Be mindful, and accept what is. To date, this is the most important self-care lesson I have encountered. I have learned that sometimes events are out of my control, and I have to be okay with that.

16. Keep a gratitude log. List at least one thing you are grateful for (whether it’s about you or about something that is going on in your life) every day. It can be a little beauty, such as a flower, or it can be a big event, like getting your license on your birthday. 

15. Declutter your life once a month—or more. Go through the clothes you don’t wear, the books you don’t read, the movies you don’t watch, and donate them. You’ll feel good about cleaning and even better about donating them to a good cause. 

14. Ask for help. Sometimes asking for help can be the hardest thing to do, but it’s also the most important. Ask for help with that math problem you’ve been struggling with or ask for help with figuring out how to stay mentally stable when you get stressed out. Do what you need to do. 

13. Put yourself out there. I had a tough time making new friends when I was 13 since I had just moved to a new state. Eventually, I decided to step away from my fears and talk to new people and I made a few really incredible friends, most of whom I am still friends with.

12. Get out of your comfort zone. Try something new, even if it’s just trying something different at your favorite restaurant. 

11. Do an activity at which you want to improve. I started writing poems when I was eleven years old and I loved it. I wasn’t a noteworthy poet, but I stuck with it and I have greatly grown as a writer since then.

10. Have a long laugh. Whether that means giggling at memes, or deep-belly laughing with your friends, make sure you have a good chuckle at least once every day. Not only does it improve your mood, but it gives your abs a mini workout!

9. Choose who you spend your time with. Cut toxic people out of your life. When I was nine, I was bullied by a girl I considered my friend. I eventually realized that she was not truly interested in being my friend, and I stopped talking to her. 

8. Take deep breaths. When I was eight, I found out that I have exercise-induced asthma, and I learned to pace myself and pause when I feel out of breath. 

7. Exercise! When I was seven, I started getting really good at riding my bike around town and walking to school. Exercise releases endorphins, making it not only excellent for your physical health, but also your mental health. 

6. Write down your thoughts. I started writing in a diary when I moved to Alaska when I was six years old. It helped me cope with such a difficult change. To this day, I still keep a journal. 

5. Personal hygiene! When I was five, I liked to do dumb things like stick rocks in my ears and blueberries up my nose, and that’s not very cleanly. Take care of your body! Don’t stick anything weird up your nose, take showers often, and brush your teeth every night (and morning, if you feel up to it). 

4. Goof around for a bit! Leave room for "fun time” and do whatever you have been wanting to do. It can be something silly, like looking up wholesome memes, or it can be something harder, like playing a kazoo and trying to make it sound musical!

3. Stop and sniff some sunflowers (or a different flower of your choice)! Ever since I was three, I have loved smelling different flowers—they don’t get enough credit for having such wonderful scents!

2. Pet a dog. Whether it’s yours or someone else’s, go out and pet a friendly dog. If it’s a stranger’s dog, make sure you ask permission first!

1. Boogie to some sick beats! Even if it’s in your bedroom alone, dance your heart out. It’s good exercise, and it’s fun. If you’re feeling really worked up, try bouncing around to “Jump” by Van Halen. 

Text by Dharma Gilley
Visuals by Teresa Woodcock


  1. Absolutely love this! And the doodles are so cute!

  2. this is so lighthearted and lovely but also HELPFUL !! thank u for this !!