Welcome to Self Care Stories, a blog series showcasing how different people take care of themselves around the world. In our lives, we often forget to prioritize our own well-being. We hope that by reading these stories, you feel inspired to build your own self-care routines because your own care is important.

Meet Michael!

What's your background?

I am a 23-year old full time student at the University of British Columbia, and I also work full time loading and servicing airplanes. I was born in Shanghai, moved to Canada 15 years ago, and currently living in Vancouver, British Columbia. As a hobby, I raise two bunnies and an aquarium of tropical fish.

What's your definition of self-care or what does self-care mean to you?

To me, self-care is the practice of living a fulfilling and purposeful life through maintaining a physically healthy and mentally vibrant lifestyle. It also means being honest and realistic with yourself - which may include asking for support when needed. 

Tell me your story. How do you practice self-care in your life?

To practice self-care while working full time and attending school full time, it requires the creation of healthy habits, the development of an "optimistic" attitude, and the building the strength to be honest with yourself. These three aspects support each other but can be difficult to initiate. However, once you get in the habit, they are quite helpful! 

To get into a healthy habit, I try to consume healthier food and drinks. Instead of soda and energy drinks, I aim for water. When I eat out, I try more veggie options. I also try to allocate my free time for tasks that relieve stress and develop physical fitness. I spend long breaks between classes swimming and going for a walk around the beautiful campus instead of always studying. The repetitive physical movements give me the opportunity to think while relieving stress and burning fat. For the short breaks at work, I spend them journaling. It allows me to reflect on life, learn from mistakes, create goals, and plan for the future.

While I always have something to do, my hectic schedule can be mentally exhausting. To motivate myself, I always maintain an attitude that reminds me of my purpose and life. Sometimes, I try to think beyond myself. When I wake up at 2am to get ready for my 4am shift, I remind myself that I'm working hard to pay for school, so I can learn the skills that will allow me to better the world of tomorrow. I would remind myself that even though my work may seem menial, it has a great impact. I load and service airplanes, so travelers and their luggage can safely get to their destinations. Maintaining a positive mindset is what keeps me going even when work or school gets tough. I also try to play and have fun with whatever I'm doing (without sacrificing the quality of my work). Looking forward to having a fun and productive day with friends, colleagues, and classmates is also a great motivator to get out of bed every morning.

Lastly, I have begun to be more honest with myself. It's about recognizing your limits. When times are difficult, I don't ignore the stress. I face it, talk about it, and get help. Sometimes, I need a break, and instead of powering through the work, I would take a break. I have learned that it's okay to struggle; everyone does, but no one has to go through it alone.

What makes taking care of yourself so important to you?

Self-care helps me sustain growth and development. It prevents me from wearing myself out and from missing the valuable moments in life by being obsessed over work all the time. It keeps me grounded in the hectic world I live in.

If you had advice to give someone else on practicing self-care, what would it be?

Be patient and honest. Certain techniques take some time before any effects are noticed, and some techniques may not be the right one for you. Only you know what is right for you, and you will have to be honest with yourself when recognizing that.

This series was created in collaboration with Self Caid. To find out more information on how to build a self-care routine, check out them out here.

Jed Chun