I only realised as it was coming to a close that last week was National Self Care Week. It’s probably just as well, or I would have spent it vegetating on the couch until I started to smell of pyjamas, wine and special fried rice.
I’m a firm advocate of the concept, but the phrase “self-care” makes my teeth hurt. I think it’s because everything I see when I’ve googled it (as I have in the past for inspiration, before I wised up) is all a bit…twee and samey. Instagrammable.
Yoga. Meditation. Find unexpectedly beautiful things on your way to work. Unplug all your electronics. Run a bath that looks like you’ve melted Care Bears into it, light a bunch of candles and turn into a raisin.
I have a bitter, sarky Scottish wee heart, and none of it moves me.
Don’t Google it. Seriously. You don’t need to. You already know what you like. Self-care isn’t about completely reevaluating your hobbies or buying stuff. It’s about prioritising yourself and making time to do the stuff that you know makes you happy. You don’t have to book a spa day or buy five million different types of things that smell if that’s not you.
I don’t doubt that these work for LOADS of people, but I’ve found trying to do something and finding that it doesn’t work can actually compound the problem. (“What’s wrong with me? Why haven’t I reached nirvana? Now I’m EVEN MORE STRESSED.”)
Here are my five favourite things to do when I feel like punching someone into the sun that I have yet to find anywhere else. And quite right, because they’re mine, and it doesn’t matter if someone else would say “you should get out more” or “that’s not good for you”. I don’t care, get out of my house.
Make the bed every morning
Sean put me onto this one, and it’s a good one. Basically, before I go to work or go for breakfast or whatever, I make the bed and make it look super good. I get to go about my day knowing that I’ve already achieved something and if I have a really shit day you can come home and crawl into a bed that looks amazing.
This is the only one I would recommend giving a shot. If you have a family member who can slip a hot water bottle into it before you get home, jackpot.
I’ve loved gaming for most of my living memory. It was my seventh birthday, when I got my PlayStation, that the love affair really kicked off. I’ve got enough games consoles in my house that I could play three a day for a week and still not repeat. I’m engaged to an ex-competitive World of Warcraft raider. It’s a way of life.
I have three categories of game.
- Huge open world games, preferably with a good plot, so I can potter about and look at the views and complete quests and enjoy the story. Currently I’m playing through Horizon Zero Dawn for this reason.
- Old favourites, like Skyrim, or Destiny. The ones I can play with my eyes closed, recite the dialogue off by heart and know that they’re going to be awesome. It’s like having your best friend come round and put a duvet round you and feed you crisps.
- The Mindless Game. I’ll probably be set upon for suggesting that Minecraft is “mindless” but systematically digging holes, laying railway tracks and building a dream house on a hill is incredibly therapeutic.
Sitting in my pyjamas on my laptop
What am I up to? Nothing. Sometimes literally. Sometimes I’m just refreshing Twitter. Sometimes I’ll fall down the Wikipedia rabbit hole. Regardless, there’s something about staring at loads of mundane crap on a screen that lets my brain switch off while my body is still awake.
I find if you can walk the thin line between being chill enough to function and descending into procrastination madness, it’s a great way to engage brain shutdown for a while. Installing software like f.lux also means there isn’t angry screen glare to contend with either.
I mean if you haven’t guessed that I like writing by now…
For me writing is the ultimate escape. “If you don’t like the world you live in, make a new one” has been the justification for most of my daydreaming since I was in high school. Writing is a distraction from everything that’s going on and it lets me pour myself wholeheartedly into something to escape from anything that’s threatening to overwhelm me. It’s a rubber ring in an empty sea.
Watching grim documentaries
I love true crime documentaries. I love apocalyptic documentaries about weird shit like nuclear reactor leaks and earthquakes. I love Air Crash Investigation and Seconds From Disaster. I have so many things recorded on the Sky planner I could probably survive being snowed in for a week and still not have to go to the TV Guide. They’re so grimly fascinating.
The one downside of this is that every time I go on a plane and there’s even the slightest bit of turbulence I assume that the horizontal stabiliser is going to fall off or that the rear cargo door is going to fly away and take half the plane with it. It’s great fun flying with me! (See: the time I went to Florida, cried because it was windy along the Eastern Seaboard and had to be fed Kalms tablets and gin.)
Life can be like struggling to grab onto the shore while someone kicks you back under the waves, and sometimes it’s difficult to look after yourself and keep on top of life as well. It was nearly a month before I hoovered my house recently which is horrendous and gross, but I was well aware that if I started doing housework after a day at work I’d go to bed completely done with everything.
It’s not the easiest thing in the world to re-prioritise, especially if you’ve got responsibilities, but take it from me: you can’t be the best version of yourself if you don’t look after yourself.
Give yourself a break. The world can wait.