It’s the end of the semester, so I’m incredibly busy between writing, last minute research-related stuff (ugh transcription), stats….and my usual healthwork schedule. I figured I would steal a few minutes to post and show what I’m trying to do for self-care so I don’t completely fry out (and maybe some of these things will help other people….that would be awesome). Hopefully this makes as much sense as I think it does!
- Eat. As much real food as possible. Seriously. This is the time of year where I eat really strangely. Part of this is because I tend to do a lot of writing in diners and restaurants (it’s an easy way to force myself to not tinker around on the internet when I should be working). The other side of this is I will forget to eat if I’m not writing in various eateries or coffee shops. I’ll find myself woozy (yay years of dieting screwing up my hunger signals…I go from “I’m a bit hungry” to “oh crap, I’m so nauseated”….not a helpful biological response, but that’s what my younger self taught my body to do and I get to pay the price for that). Not being properly nourished will keep a writer’s block firmly planted…because brains need fuel too!
- Take breaks! There’s a good amount of psychological research that shows that taking breaks can help keep your energy up and keep stress from overwhelming you (or keep anxiety from completely ruining any attempts at working….which is what happened to me this past weekend). I’m trying to use an app for my phone called Unfuck Your Habitat….it’s meant to help a person with household chores, but it has a 20/10 timer on there that I’m finding useful to force me to persevere when I’m having trouble and to not feel guilty about taking breaks.
- Sleep! Not sleeping will make it hard to concentrate and will really mess with your mental health. Not getting enough sleep will also impair your ability to eat properly as most people’s bodies will push you to eat comfort food (aka generally not good brain food). The last time I pulled an all-nighter I lived on cookies & cream ice cream (and I have a bit of a gluten intolerance, so this didn’t work out well).
- Get social time. This is one of the hardest things this time of year, but hear me out. This depends on the person, but for me this includes eating dinner with my partner, studying with other people, or checking social media during my enforced breaks (as per #2). I’m an introvert, but I notice that if I don’t get enough social time during this time of year, I feel particularly fried.
- Find time to have fun. Again, this can be really hard, but giving yourself time to even play a game on your cell phone can really help with stress levels. I have a few casual games of Words with Friends, Bookworm Heroes, and Evil Apples going on my phone for this reason.
- Get outside, at least briefly. I have a sleep disorder on top of everything on my broken body list, so this is really important for me. Make it more than just getting in and out of your car, waiting for public transport, or going from one academic building. Make it deliberate. Breathe in the air if it’s feasible (I live in pollen-land, so I know this isn’t always a good idea for folks), get a few rays of sun, listen mindfully to the birds/cars/yelling teenagers/etc. Make it a stop outside for the sole reason of being outside (if your health allows for it).
I hope this helps someone out there. I know that writing this down has helped me realize what self-care looks like when I need it the most (even when part of my brain is yelling at me that “there’s no TIME for ANY of that! Must do ALL THE THINGS!”). Not everyone’s self-care list will be the same, and that’s just fine. Feel free to comment below if your list differs or you think I may have missed something.