Self Care Resources and Tips That Won't Make You Cringe
Updated: Apr 30, 2022
Nightly bubble baths. Good chocolate. Journaling. Weekly massage: All things I’ve seen suggested for self-care. These are lovely ideas (isn't chocolate pretty much always a good idea?), but not always practical for many of us. And anyway, you can’t solve chronic pain, burnout, or general existential dread with a manicure and a chai latte. (If only we could!) Lasting and meaningful self-care includes working on the things that wreck our quality of life. Maybe that’s a sleep issue or nagging pain that creeps up between massages. How can you meet yourself where you are and improve your stiffness or poor sleep? Maybe stressing about being disorganized is wearing you down. How can you work on that? I have a few ideas and go-to resources for some of the most common stressors we face, I hope you can make use of a few.
Aches, pains, and gentle rehab To focus on gentle, zero-impact stretching and strengthening, I love "Quick Fit with Cassy." These are short, simple-to-follow videos that are easy to fit into your daily routine - most are 15 minutes or less. You can find Cassy's videos here at PBS Wisconsin. Bookmark your favorite in your browser and make an effort to do it a few times a week, or whatever works for you.
Nature A little bit of green is so helpful that “Forest Bathing” is a doctor-recommended treatment in Japan. But you don’t need to go that far to benefit from nature. A short walk in the sunlight can feel restorative. Watering and looking for new buds on a hearty houseplant by a window can provide a break for your nervous system and help you stay even-keeled.
We are incredibly fortunate in our area to have some lovely places to go to benefit from some outdoor time. A couple of my favorite nearby places are Patrick Marsh Wildlife Area and Olbrich Botanical Gardens. (Bonus at Olbrich: A walk in the conservatory on a cold winter's day is like a mini vacation in a rainforest.)
Your habitat Lives are complicated and messy and that can make our environments complicated and messy. Very few of us have the time, resources, or motivation needed to keep a very clean, easy-to-live-in home. On top of that, there’s an awful lot of moral weight placed on cleanliness and organization, so if you’re not awesome at it, there can be shame involved (which is the worst possible motivator). If you have a hard time getting going or creating a routine with care tasks, check out Struggle Care. You’ll find all kinds of resources, created by a licensed professional therapist, to help you drop the shame and find what makes a functional home for you. If you are ready to change your environment but aren’t sure where to start, check out Unf#*k
Your Habitat. There are all kinds of starter guides and lists and thoughtful resources there to get you going. Pro tip: If you struggle to stay on task, get a friend to hang out with you while you dive into a chore or project. It’s called “body doubling,” and it can be super helpful. And it doesn't necessarily have to be in person. I've done this with friends via video call, and it's worked just as well for us. We each just work on our own task while on the call.
Getting your Zzzzzzs Sleep stories are great tools for people who have trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep. The Calm app has lots of meditations for all ages, all times of day or night, including recordings designed to calm your nervous system and help you sleep. A sleep story read by LeVar Burton or a soothing bedtime body scan meditation are just a couple of options that might help send you off to a peaceful slumber.
Movement This doesn’t have to mean "exercise" or a "workout," and it doesn’t have to mean taking the stairs or parking super far away from the door of the supermarket (though there is nothing wrong with any of those things if they're working for you). Movement can be small, joyful, and maybe even noticed by the people around you. Shake your legs out or march in place while you do the dishes (improving circulation in legs), reach up to tap the top of every doorway you walk through (moving through shoulder range of motion), or kick up a two-minute dance party while you heat up your lunch (that’s just fun). It all counts, and you’ll probably feel good about it.
Go slow Pick one thing. Just one thing. And add it to your life. When you’ve got the hang of that, maybe add another thing. Oh, and don't forget to schedule a massage. You’ll thank yourself later.