Welcome, friends, to another instalment of Self-Care Sunday. Before I dive into today’s focus, I wanted to take a moment and celebrate that this is the 11th SCS post here on BiblioNyan! I remember when I began the series, I was wholly worried as to whether I’d have enough things to chat about for two or three posts, let alone eleven! I also want to say thank you to everyone who has ever taken the time to provide feedback on the posts, share their personal experiences and insights, or have otherwise been benefitted in someway from reading this series. Thank you, everyone.
Today, I wanted to discuss the subject of self-care itself. What is self-care? What does it mean when someone says to you they are planning on spending their day or evening participating in self-care? How should you participate in self-care? Is it extraordinary and extravagant, or simple and basic? Is it expensive or affordable? Does it only apply to people who have mental health illnesses and conditions, or can it be done by anyone?
You would expect this post to be the first in the series, but akin to a majority of people out there, it never occurred to me to talk about the very heart of self-care. It was something that took off in popularity, so I wanted to share my own experiences with it to help others. Nevertheless, yesterday when I was out on a small working workshop with my Health and Wellness Coach, a session where she discussed the twelve simple steps to living your better life, and we began to chat about self-care and its importance in our daily lives that I really began to ponder the very essence of it.
If I had someone who initially sat down and had a conversation with me about self-care and what it means in its most basic and stripped-down form, I would have been supremely grateful. So, today, I want to do that with y’all. Let’s talk about self-care. What the bleeding hell is it and are you someone who can partake?
Self-care is a really simple notion. It is the act of doing something, anything, that brings you joy. What a concept, right? When my H&W Coach mentioned it, it blew my bleeding mind. As long as it doesn’t involve self-harm, it can legitimately be anything that brings you even the smallest ounce of comfort and joy. That is a word that I will be using quite a bit here today because, regardless of being a tiny word, it is jam-packed with power.
Joy is something that we either take for granted because we don’t recognise the things that brings us joy while we’re already doing them, or it’s a rare treasure that few of us get a chance to experience. It is the key to tackling even the busiest of lives or the most-stressful of periods in life. As someone who recently underwent a severe stress-attack, I can attest to the power of self-care and the healing powers of joy.
I suppose the next question is: what is joy? Is it happiness? Is it being content in life? Is it having the perfect relationships, career, grades, etc.? My answer to you is yes and no. I know; so helpful. Here is what the dictionary says about joy:
Joy is an emotion. It is that breath-taking feeling of delight or happiness that you get in the moment. If you have kick-ass grades, you should be proud of yourself and you will more than likely be feeling a level of joy. The same can be said if you are in a relationship that is healthy and harmonising. For example, your partner cooks you a meal or treats you to something just to show you how much they care. That moment of affection and warmth that you will feel is joy. This can also be said about your dream job. Mine is to become a published author. So, for example, if one day I finish my manuscript and get the green light on being published, that moment when I receive the good news will be my moment of pure joy. Even with these examples, it doesn’t have to be some grand accomplishment. It can be a tiny moment in your long exhausting day that is just for you. Joy doesn’t stem only from big ass success or sweet, romanticisms. They are elements in your life that make you feel complete or elated, no matter the size or impact of that element. That is what joy is all about. Happiness and contentment are constants that tend to fluctuate. But joy? Joy is a whole other realm. It is something that you can 100% have control of and give to yourself.
When we talk about self-care as the act of doing something to bring yourself joy, we talk about taking control of your life, even if it’s only for an hour or thirty minutes and doing one thing that will help you relax and recharge; help you quell the depletion of life’s hastiness so you can feel like you’re a badass again.
I have a variety of things that I turn to for my momentary dose of self-care when I feel like life is burying me beneath a mountain of sand, and I just can’t escape everything that’s going on. I have compiled a list down below of stuff that my family and I do for self-care. You’ll see that most of them are the simplest of gestures and treats.
- Fuzzy socks & hot chocolate: Oh yeah, we’re starting out with the best of the basics. After a long day of working—usually about 14 to 16 hours on a good day—the greatest joy I have is putting on my favourite cat, fuzzy socks and making a mug of hot cocoa (or milo), then sitting down with my favourite TV show or an amazing book. I usually do this for an hour or so before bed. It helps me completely relax and just dust the day off my shoulders. When I do this, I also tend to sleep much better, and on an excellent night, for much longer than normal (three to four hours for me).
- Bubble baths: I learned that bubble baths can be unbelievably relaxing from Sir Betrothed. They love baths. So, one night I tried it out. I almost fell asleep in the tub. It was extraordinary. The hot water all the way up to my neck with floofy bubbles and the calming scent of white tea and jasmine just helped all of tension in my body melt away. For that hour, I felt pure joy. It was so delightful.
- Cooking: My mom loves cooking. It’s her way to unwinding after a colossally shitty day at work. She tends to make feasts, usually for three people, and that’s when I know she’s in her element; there will be seven appetisers and five courses for just the three of us. For that half an hour or hour, depending on what she’s making, she tosses around spices and chops veggies so beautifully while marinating and sautéing—lady is dancing in joy. This is her go-to self-care ritual. When she’s done, she’s a completely different person most of the time. She’s smiling and less lethargic and depressed.
- Cleaning: My dad and I have severe OCD, so when we are stressed out or upset, we clean. I will clean and re-clean the house. In my mind, it makes me feel like I’m scrubbing away the negativity that is plaguing me in that moment. For my dad, it helps him escape for a while and not have to think about whatever is bothering him. Or he will use that time to process things in order to make big decisions. While these may not sound like joyful things, they are. Sometimes being able to face life’s hardships and make a choice you don’t want to is joyful in and of itself. It means you’re progressing and fighting fear. Fighting fear is always something to celebrate.
- Binding of Isaac: Sir Betrothed will play this… for hours. When they are playing, with their feet up after a stressful day, or even just a very long and exhausting one, I know they are taking time for themselves to recharge. If it’s not Binding of Isaac, it’s an Indie wrestling game. For me, my game is Titan’s Quest.
- Library Books: I used to stress shop, a lot. But then I discovered the library. Whenever I feel extremely stressed out and I need to escape my life for a little while, usually fifteen minutes to half-an-hour, I go to the library. I look at books, add them to my Library Wishlist (oh yes, I have a long one), or check stuff out if I have room on my card to do it. I’ll even just sit in a corner and outline blog posts or sit outside beneath a tree and read or play on PS Vita. This allows me to wholeheartedly ignore everything that is bothering me. It’s a safe place where no BS is allowed. So much joy, my friends.
- Racing: Unfortunately, I am now retired, so I don’t participate in this one nearly as much as I would like. But racing was very cathartic for me, especially when I had the worst fucking days imaginable. There is something about being able to hit speeds of 180 to 200+ MPH (miles per hour) that really made me feel alive. All of the energy I spent in dealing with my day would be revitalised by the adrenaline that would be pumping through my veins. The joy I felt from racing is indescribably remarkable.
- Bhaiya Playlist: I saved this one for last because it will be the most emotional one on the list. Bhaiya means brother in Hindi. This is the act of self-care that I practise the most. Whenever I am missing my brother, so much so that I feel his loss down to the very core of my being, I sit in my car and listen to this playlist. It has songs that he used to play on the piano, or songs that just remind me of him and his ability to play music. These moments are self-care for me because they help me fight my grief, which is the one thing I struggle with the most. Everything else is like dirty laundry compared to the intensity of which I fight my pain over his loss. Listening to these songs help me visualise him playing music. When he was alive, I’d rest my head on his shoulders while he played, and that was my ultimate self-care. With his absence this has become the best replacement. Yes, sometimes I do cry. But regardless of the tears, I still feel so much joy. My heart becomes warm and light, and I know that I will be able to conquer whatever craptastic thing life shoves down my path next. I feel like via the music we shared, he’s somehow lending me the strength I need to keep on going, to not be afraid.
Self-care is really basic. Have your favourite snack during your break at work if you’re having the worst day. Take a nap. Go into nature and go for a hike. Boxing or working out. Play with your cats! Nap with your cats (another one of my favourites). Go to your favourite restaurant. Anything that brings you joy without being harmful to your health and well-being, is an act of self-care. It can be as long as you need it to be, or as short. It is the ability to stop for a little while to recharge and to tell yourself you’re going to be okay. Life may suck, but everything will be okay. As long as I have my Milo and my kitties, I will be okay (and Sir Betrothed too). It doesn’t matter who you are. Self-care is for everyone, not just folks who have mental health illnesses and conditions. It’s not limited to gender or anything else like that either. It’s for everyone and anyone who wants to do self-care.
My challenge to you this week is to try out some self-care! Try something for fifteen minutes to half an hour and let me know how you feel in that moment and afterwards. Life can be a beast, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be friendly too.