Ten Most Effective Self-Care Tricks in this Unique Time!

Submitted for Contest #74 in response to: Write a story in the form of a top-ten list.... view prompt

Dec 27, 2020

Fiction Contemporary Funny

It certainly hasn’t been a typical year, that’s for sure! Taking time out of your busy days for self-care in the middle of all this madness is *so* important. In a year like this, anything counts as self-care, right? I’ve tried out a lot of crazy things in hopes of finding solace during this wild time. I know I’ve had a lot of friends and readers asking how I’m keeping it together this year. I decided to reflect on the best ways I’ve found to deal with a year as yucky as this one!

Here are the ten best self-care tips I’ve leaned into during this strange, unexpected season of my life.

10. Binge-watching re-runs of favorite shows

This one feels obvious, but when my girlfriend broke up with me in February — yes, on the cusp of the world falling apart! — I took comfort in staying in my pajamas and watching Casablanca on repeat. Don’t get me wrong, that worked for a while. But eventually, I had to get on with my life. By the time we were on lockdown, trying to get things under control, I was wearing a bra and changing underwear again. And instead of watching old black-and-white films, I’d moved on to re-watching all my favorite episodes of Veronica Mars, Modern Family, and Weeds. When I made the switch, I really felt better! Instead of wasting hours in front of the TV, crying or staring into the void, I was vacuuming while laughing about another crazy antic of Phil Dunphy’s. Re-watching my favorite shows really helped me get through the lockdown phase of things!

9. Showering more than once a week

        Again, this is a super easy one to miss, but once you’re not going into public places anymore, it’s, like, who am I trying to impress, you know? When I was finally back to cleaning my apartment again, I was definitely living in my own smells. I wasn’t going to an office anymore, or seeing anyone regularly, since even though the lockdown had ended, life was far from back to normal. Social distancing, masks, only essential runs to the grocery stores, restaurants were only open for carry out or delivery. Having friends over for coffee or going out to dinner was a thing of the past! After Easter, I got back into the habit of showering every other day, or every day if I was feeling particularly ambitious. I was even brushing *and* washing my hair *and* putting on deodorant daily! It was a huge improvement. Making sure to shower regularly is a huge must for daily self-care!

8. Eating only half the pint of ice cream

        Everyone’s talking about all the stress eating they’re doing right now, and who can blame them? It’s been a rough one all around. I got a head start on this particular activity with the breakup right before everything hit the fan. To say I was fully stocked on ice cream when the lockdown happened would be a huge understatement. I’d bought so much nothing else could fit in my freeze! But I was going through them faster once the world went sideways. Sometimes, ice cream turned into my breakfast, because I was the adult, and nobody could tell me what to do! Except being the adult meant that after stepping on the scale in May, I had to put myself in an ice cream time out. The quarantine-fifteen is real! And it was May! There was no way I’d have a beach-ready bod by June. The world was still falling apart though, so maybe going to the beach would be out of the question. Regardless, the best I could do was cut back on ice cream. When I took the Cookie Monster mentality and went from “cookies all the time” to “cookies are a sometimes food,” I started feeling way better. But treating yourself to a little ice cream is still self-care in this wild time, so it doesn’t mean I’m swearing off it completely! Now I only eat half the pint of ice cream when I’m feeling down.

7. Self-improvement books and videos

        When I’m not watching reruns of my favorite shows, I’ve taken to finding videos on the internet that show me how to get into new hobbies. I’ve learned so many new skills, and I’ve made a list of activities I’m so excited to try! I learned how to change my own headlight. I stopped at a grocery store for some necessities and when I came out, there was a cart smashed into my headlight! Glass was everywhere, and I swore and screamed for a few minutes and then resigned myself to the fact that the culprit was long gone, and I’d have to deal with this damage on my own. I didn’t think going to a mechanic, who would probably overcharge me for the work, was really an “essential” outing in the middle of this weird year, so I opted to figure it out at home. I learned what the part was called and how to order it, and then I looked up some videos on how to swap the broken one out for the new one and voila! New skill acquired! I also learned how to change my own oil! I even ran into some videos on yoga and roller skating, I’m so looking forward to learning how to do both!

6. Yoga

After realizing I’d gained some major weight in the last few months, I decided I needed to do something about it. I was never going to find another girlfriend in the middle of this tough time if I was eating myself to death, so when the videos for yoga came my way. I saved them to a playlist and swore I’d get around to doing them. Well, it turns out, yoga is hard! It’s a lot of sweating, and it takes a lot more general body strength than I expected! I’ve done it twice, but we’ll see if I continue to do it. I’m way more intimidated by yogis now! I have noticed it truly improves my mood, so maybe it is an essential part of self-care during this unprecedented time. If you haven’t tried it, I’d say go for it! It’s hard work, but I think it’s paying off.

5. Taking baths, with bath bombs and a good book!

        Most times, I think baths are overrated, but these days, it’s been a great way to relax and remind my muscles to take a chill pill. I’ve also been trying to read all those books I’ve always wanted to read but just never got around to picking up. This whole bath thing really feels like a two-for-one. I’m relaxing and reading at the same time. I’ve read half of Luster by Raven Leilani, and I have to say it’s a definite must-read! So, treat yourself to a book and a bath bomb!

4. Going off the grid, unplugging, whatever you want to call turning off your phone!

        Yes! I know, turning off the phone in the middle of a hotbed of constant news and an everchanging situation sounds like absolute madness, but taking a social media break, even for 24 hours, is huge for the brain! I’ve been taking one day a week to do this, and it’s really turning things around for me. I’ve been more productive, attentive to the shows I’m watching, the chores I’m doing get done in less time, and really, I have to say it’s hard to hold my phone and do yoga poses! It’s also a huge stressor to have my phone with me while I’m trying to take one of those great baths. I’m constantly worried I’ll drop it in the tub, and we all know going out to buy a phone while stores have reduced hours and more and more products are becoming unavailable right now with all the international shipping issues and all the logistics of globalization being affected by this rough year, buying a new phone is just not a stress I need to add to my life! The less places I can take it with me, the better! I’ve taken to turning my phone off once a week and just having a me day. Sometimes it’s great to just connect with yourself!

3. Roller skating or another outdoor activity!

        When I was a kid, I had a pair of quad skates, but by the time I was thirteen, wearing a helmet and pads wasn’t cool, and my mom wouldn’t let me go out to skate without them. So, naturally, I stopped skating. When quad skate reviews popped up in my recommended videos after I figured out how to change my headlight, I thought it was a sign. After a lot of searching online, I found a pair! I bought pads and a helmet, and I know my mom would be proud. I’ve been spending a lot of time learning how to skate. It’s a lot harder than it looks, but just like yoga, I think if I get enough practice under my belt, this will be a huge mood-booster. I’ve also seen a lot of people getting bicycles, skateboards, and rollerblades! I’ve even seen a lot more people with shiny, new kayaks mounted on their cars! Whatever you go with, getting outside and doing something active will be a huge one for self-care!

2. Hiking or taking walks in nature

        All right, all right, I know! Hiking! That sounds super intense. I like to reframe it as taking a nice, long walk, surrounded by nature, and honestly, that’s been helpful. When I think of the word hike, I think of giant backpacks, a giant water bottle, a compass, intense boots that I’d have no idea where to find, carabiners, a walking stick, all kinds of gadgets and gizmos! But when I think of taking a nice long walk, nature all around me, I feel pretty serene. I definitely take my phone, a knife, water, and a few other essentials, just in case, but I stick to small trails in the local parks, and I let people know where I’m going and how long I anticipate being gone, and I text them to let them know I’ve made it back home! It’s a really calming experience, and honestly, it kinda beats staying at home, alone, while it’s sunny outside. If I have to be alone, I’d prefer to be outside with the birds and trees. And the cool bonus part of hiking is cloud gazing and animal spotting! It’s been really awesome to see fun shapes in the clouds and watch squirrels race around, chasing each other.

1. Video calls with friends

        Since we can’t hang out in person, and a lot of us are facing video call fatigue, this one can be hard to do, but I promise it’s worth it! So many of us are feeling isolated and alone right now, and I know between my ex leaving me at the start of all this, and being unable to see my friends, it’s been easy to think that nobody cares. It’s hard to remember, but so important to remind ourselves, we are not alone right now. No matter how alone we feel, this will end and we will be able to hang out in person without social distancing, without masks, without shouting across cars to say hello in a parking lot. We will be able to hug each other again. I’ve been trying to make time for this one, but it’s been really hard. I’ve managed to make one video call a month, and that’s not a lot, but it’s better than nothing, and it’s been the biggest self-care I can do. Go ahead, call someone as soon as you finish reading this article! I bet it will turn your whole day around!

        It’s been a strange time in all of our lives, but these have been the best self-care tips I’ve found helpful over the course of the last one thousand years’ worth of craziness that somehow got crammed into a matter of months. We’re all out here doing our best, and whatever you’re doing is better than sitting on the couch, watching Casablanca on repeat and crying. We’ll finish this year stronger than we started it!

Let me know how you’ve practiced self-care during these trying times! What’s keeping you sane? Share in the comments!

I’ll be back next week to share my top ten resolutions for the new year!

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