10 Self Care Tips for Tough Weeks
I know that I'm really lucky-- my anxieties are far less severe than those of others-- but today, I wanted to share with you all some of the things that have really helped me this week (which has been a bit rocky) and at other times of my life when I've felt like I was stuck standing in the path of an avalanche.
I understand that sometimes, things really can get a bit much and that none of these things will help Different things help different people. Sometimes, none of these will work for me either.
If you're struggling, the number for Lifeline Australia is 13 11 14.
If you have some tips for things you do that help you feel better, I'd love it if you could share those with me in the comments too.
1. Heat packs
I don't know about you, but I tend to experience lower moods more frequently in the winter. We've been really lucky (or not, I suppose, if you're a farmer) in Perth this year because this is the mildest winter I can remember. Today it's about 22 degrees, and my apartment is so warm, I'm not even wearing stockings or a jumper. One thing that I've found comforting this week has been to take a heat pack with me to bed. I have two favourites-- one is shaped like a lemur with gigantic eyes which is great for cuddling and smells a little like lavender. The other is a big pillow shaped like a rainbow unicorn, which is perfect for putting on hunched shoulders or sore lower backs. Cuddling up to something warm helps to unclench tight muscles or sore, stressed tummies and ensures that I can fall asleep when I need to.
2. Long, rambling walks
Sometimes when I'm emotionally exhausted, one of the best things I can do is to physically exhaust myself too-- to get some sunshine, to look at the scenery, and to pound the pavement. I'm not naturally a person who enjoys going to the gym (although I know I should be forming a more regular exercise habit), but I do enjoy walking around the area near where I live. On beautiful sunny days, or even gloomy rainy ones, armed with an umbrella and sturdy boots, I find it relaxing to get outside and walk to places I need to go-- such as the library, the post office, or the coffee shop. If I'm feeling particularly stressed, I extend this walk and take in the sights. This morning, I went to the library to return some books and stumbled upon a busting farmers' market. If I hadn't been walking home, I might have come home with a stack of cute cacti or a knitted coat for my parents' dog... Seeing the blue sky and all the autumnal leaves, and even the smiling faces of other people out and about walking made me feel pretty upbeat, so I highly recommend this. If you're like me and sometimes need to avoid silence, try downloading a podcast and listen while you walk. I recommend The Readers, Adventures with Words or the slightly more risque Banging Book Club. Better Reading also has some great interviews with authors you can listen to.
Whatever your personal style may be, there are always some slightly self indulgent things you can do to make your body feel good-- whether that's getting into the shower and washing your hair really thoroughly, or painting your fingernails, or having a bubble bath, or moisturising. Sometimes, I find that getting into the shower and making myself feel really squeaky clean and fresh is a great way to hit the restart button on a mopey day.
4. Read an amazing book
What kind of a book blogger would I be if I didn't suggest this? What you want to do during tough times is pick a book that is really going to hold your attention. If I find myself reaching for my phone to check Facebook every chapter, the book isn't doing the trick. If the book you've been reading isn't working, try picking up something completely different, a book you've loved in the past or even a childhood favourite. When in doubt, I always go for Harry Potter, Little Women or Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants.
5. Limit phone use
I've noticed that there's a bit of a cycle with me and my phone going on at the moment. The more stressed I am, the more I check my phone, which makes me more stressed. There's probably some psychological explanation for this, but for now, all I know is that I need to cut back. If you're the same, try putting your phone on loud so you don't miss any calls or messages, but leave your phone in another room if you're at home. Ask a friend or loved one to speak up if they see you've been on your phone a bit much. If you're out and about, leave it in your bag and try to enjoy whatever it is that you're doing. Whatever it was that was going on across social media will either still be there later, or wasn't that important to begin with.
6. Do something crafty
I feel less hopeless when I have a project, but if I'm a bit down in the dumps, sometimes it can be hard to get to the desk and write. One of the other things I really like doing in my down time is knitting and crocheting. I'm better at crocheting-- I can only knit things that are straight lines, like scarves! At the moment, I am working on a blanket made of crocheted granny squares, which I am making out of left over wool from other projects. I'm going to join it together with black wool and make it look like licorice allsorts. Having this to do with my hands helps me limit my phone use too.
7. Watch something that you can just escape into
I've been watching season 11 of Bones, which in my opinion has lost some of the punch of the earlier seasons-- but I can't stop watching! Every season, the showrunners tease a plotline that draws me in, so I know I'll watch the final season too, because I've seen they're bringing an old cast member back. I know that the dialogue is cringeworthy, the cases are a stretch of what's plausible and there's no way that they can do some of the things they pretend to do with technology, but I enjoy watching it because these are characters I've watched for a long time, and it's comforting to see them solving murders, falling in love etc. Likewise, I used to love watching One Tree Hill, for which I have been teased many times, but hey, for some people it's Bones and One Tree Hill, for others it's Gossip Girl or Orange is the New Black ... or whatever. You get the idea.
8. Clean things
Organising my physical space helps me feel like my mind is organised too. If you're needing a project, try emptying out your wardrobe for a big clean out.
9. A little help from my friends
Talk to someone. Go for a coffee, write them a letter, invite them over just to hang out. It's okay to feel down about things, and it's okay to be overwhelmed. There is no shame in letting people know that you need help, or even just company.
10. Write about it!
Do you keep a journal? I do. Sometimes I can't write about things right away, but if I pour out everything that's been happening, and how I feel about it, onto the page, sometimes it's easier to let go of some of the tension that's built up. Other things I've found useful this week are:
Making lists of things I need to do.
Writing fiction and getting out of my own head.
Planning upcoming projects and looking ahead.
I hope you're all having a great weekend. What do you do when you feel a bit overwhelmed? Let me know in the comments below, or on Facebook, or on Twitter. (My handle is @BatgirlElimy)
Take care of yourselves.