I’m a fan of staying as sane as possible. If I don’t allot daily time to self-care, things will go downhill pretty quickly. So, in the nature of managing my neuroses, I’ve figured out a couple of things that work for me.
Try Something New
A few months ago, I started cooking one new recipe every week. Since then, I’ve noticed a few things: I eat out way less, and with leftovers in my freezer it’s cheaper than a restaurant. Also, I’m surprised I can cook something edible. It builds self-efficacy to study my vat of stir-fry and realize I have created a thing that can be eaten, even if I’ve turned my kitchen into a crime scene. I’ve developed a more intimate relationship with my food, what goes in it, and consequently what goes into my body. I’ve found an inexpensive way to deal with my butter chicken addiction. I enjoy having wicked awesome dance parties while I cook things.
Claim Your Space
I like making my living space mine. When I moved into my apartment, one of the first things I did was put up my Doctor Who poster. I love it when my living space reflects my life, goals, and character. Since then, my décor has evolved to include a road bike, race bibs, books and friends’ artwork. It makes living alone the opposite of lonely.
It’s satisfying and empowering when my style—my apartment’s decorations or the clothes I wear—matches my personality. Sometimes striking that balance at work is tricky, especially with a dress code and a budget. I’m a fan of Value Village and end of season sales.
Sweat It Out
Exercise is a massive component of my self-care routine. It is spectacular to feel my body strongly and competently move. I climb, skate, swim, play Frisbee, bike, run, and plan to start dance lessons in the fall. Employers sometimes offer discounts on gym passes or other fees associated with physical activity. Mine does, and I take advantage of this. Sports like climbing or biking can get expensive. Having friends who share my hobbies means we can swap gear. And I don’t think you can ever have too many belay partners or people to talk cycling shoes with.
Exercise is a great opportunity to set goals for myself. If I follow a training plan, in sixteen weeks I’ll be set to run a half-marathon. By taking days off, sleeping properly, and sticking to my training schedule like a celebrity-obsessed stalker, I’ll reach whatever goals I’ve set. Knowing that makes me feel unstoppable.
I don’t drive, so I walk wherever I can. Walking gives me a chance to organize my thoughts. But when a destination isn’t in walking distance, the bus is my friend. It’s cheaper than hailing a taxi, and gives me time to read or call my mom. If I know a shower is at the end of my trip, I’ll run or bike where I need to go.
Physical activity lets me reflect. If I’m struggling with something—in a relationship, at work, or with my family—I’ll swim for an hour and come out of it feeling like a wet noodle in the best possible way. I’m loopy with relaxation. It’s meditation. It centers me, and I breathe properly. If I’ve held a scary thought in my head while I run, it feels less intimidating once I’m finished. Exercise gives me time to turn my thoughts over and over in my head until they make sense.
Then I’ll write it down. The best part about journaling—which might seem obvious—is I can say anything I want, because no one besides me is going to read it. Something I’m not supposed to say, or think; something gross or strange feels strong coming out on paper. I’ll journal with words, poetry, or art. It’s an inexpensive way to figure out how I actually feel about situations, experiences, or emotions.
Exploring my passions gives me fuel to explore myself. It’s an addiction.
Finding what I’m passionate about is always exciting. I like activities or experiences that set me on fire. I meet people who share my interests, or want to, and we figure them out together. I’m friends with those who force me to be a better person, to push me, and to think critically. I keep people in my life who inspire me in some way.
These are the ways I take care of myself. It doesn’t have to be expensive or trendy – it is my priority. If I don’t care for myself, I can’t contribute meaningfully to relationships or society.
And it helps keep the crazy at bay.