A self care list. I’ve been working on this. I promise it’s worth it.
A self care list. I’ve been working on this. I promise it’s worth it.
This is obviously a list of self-care idea for completely able, straight, cis, financially secure people who live with a lot of privileges and a helluva lot of obliviousness. This is not a self-care list for whom self-care is most important and most difficult.
So I thought I’d make some corrections:
1. Getting up earlier than you need to may be depriving you of sleep you desperately need. Circadian rhythms are a thing. Get up when you need to, when it is good for you to get up. Getting up earlier is not more virtuous than sleeping in. You’re not a better more vital person if you wake up at the crack of “why the fuck am I awake”. You’re just a person who’s up earlier. If your body needs to say, “sorry, we don’t open until 9:30”, that is fine. You are not somehow failing at being beautiful and meaningful in your self-care
2. Try to get the sleep you need. It varies from person to person. Some people genuinely work better on a late schedule and staying up until 2am and being able to sleep later on is healthy for them because their internal clock runs that way. Going to bed early is not a virtue. It’s just a time to go to bed. It’s more about time and quality achieved than when you clock in and out of consciousness. Never you mind the people here who have jobs that require double shifts or “hey, you’re working late and closing tonight” type jobs. I’ve had those jobs. Those jobs where you didn’t get to lock up and get to your damn car until 11pm and you still had ten things to do at home.
3. Cooking is nice. Learn what you can. But if you need to eat a breakfast bar or a donut or something you just stick in the microwave, that is okay. This “fry tomatoes and mushrooms in real butter and garlic” thing is bullshit. If you like that, if you have time, if you have that much left in your kitchen, if you know how, go for it. But don’t feel like you’re doing self-care or recovery wrong because you’re not making a professional 2-course breakfast with chopped fruit and croissants for yourself every day. Or any day. Try to learn cooking that works for you if you can’t. But eating food that’s presented to you as fancier and better and more wholesome just because of how it was made is not all that useful. Eating, like sleeping, is about amounts and quality needed and that varies person to person. And also, getting to enjoy it.
4. Stretching is one of those things you don’t just do because someone makes is sounds romantic. For a lot of people with disabilities, you gotta be damn careful. How about asking around (if possible) and finding (if possible) movements that feel good to you. Me? I chair dance. I boogie in my chair. Because I have a cyst on my spine and stretching is not a harmless prospect for me right now. But if I don’t have to put all that weight on my lower half, my upper half can go for the beat.
5. Cursory searches find that you’re at least paying a fiver (US) for that shit which is equivalent to almost 4£. And it varies, depending on your country. So if you should happen to need that money for frivolous things like medicine, food, or shelter, it might not be feasible. Unless you wanna just repurpose a 1L soda bottle. And if you do, awesome. Congratulate the hell out of yourself for being resourceful, you resourceful person. But how about this? Drinking water is not a chore. This is not the Insanity Workout for hydration. Just drink water when you feel you need it. You are not failing at self-care if you’re not somehow training marathon-style for drinking goddamn water. Also, this again is not a harmless prospect for disabled folks with certain problems with balances in sodium and what not.
6. Or not. Diaries aren’t for everyone. It’s okay to blog. It’s okay to tweet if that’s more accessible. Especially if doing so is less frustrating and rage inducing than trying the pen and paper thing. Also, buy a plain old notebook, a cheap as hell notebook so you can just scrawl and scribble and fuck that shit up and not feel bad about it. Sometimes you need to just write FUCK YOU LIFE FUCK YOU I HATE YOU real big. Write whatever the fuck you want in it. If you think a detail is too small, that’s fine. Paste in things if writing and language aren’t working out for you right now. I’ve done this when I couldn’t (due to meds and my bad brain) articulate words. I had the fortune of scoring a bunch of old free modern art magazines that were getting thrown out and there was a picture of a cunt. Being able to paste that in and know that it was what I wanted to say (in the way the picture was composed, etc) was a big relief. Either way, you are not required to record the minutiae of your day as part of your ~beautiful and life affirming~ self-care. Draw on other surfaces and stuff if you can. Old newspapers, magazines. Get an old magazine and a marker and start telling the pictures exactly what you think about it. Draw on styrofoam cups. Or don’t.
7. Wow, this person really doesn’t understand spoons. Look, trying as much as you can to tidy up and keep a clean space is a positive thing, I’ll grant you. But if you need to just let the bedsheets stay there, you’re actually doing self-care very well. Knowing limits and respecting exhaustion is key. If laundry is not something you’re up to do, especially bedsheet laundry and re-putting on bedsheets (which can be fucking difficult for even abled people), that’s fine. Not everyone has a laundry/drier in their dwelling. Some people gotta lug it down two flights of stairs and then up a block or two and spend enough quarters to equal a newborn’s weight. If you are not in a position to do that, it is okay. Febreeze that shit if it isn’t something that will hurt you (some people do have allergies/sensitivities). Or find some herb you like, make satchets (what they’re called) to put under bed sheets. Let that sit. Come bedtime, just toss the satchets somewhere else. Putting them permanently in clothing drawers is also good. I did this. It was (for me) a piece of piss. Get some dried lavender or dried sage or dried rosemary or whatever thing that smells like what you like, put it in some cheese cloth (found at WalMart, Target, even grocery stories and runs you somewhere between 2 to 6 bucks US depending on how many yards you buy), tie that motherfucker off or rubber band it and stick them wherever. Not gonna lie, the lavender helped me sleep better. But whatever. If you can’t do this, recognizing that and not letting it shame you is AMAZING self-care.
8. Again, this person doesn’t understand spoons. Ugh. All that is tiring and impossible for me right now. You know what did work? Cleaning just my desk space and allowing myself to have a junk drawer (which is just an old tupperware container that fits under a shelf on my desk so it looks vaguely drawer like). I will vacuum tomorrow when I am in less pain. I will clean the mirrors when I can stand and move long enough that I can think straight. And I don’t like scented candles over all, they give me headaches. Do what you can. Be proud of it. If all you can do is vacuum a small room, you look at that room and give yourself a pat on the back and enjoy the fruits of your labors. Enjoy that you did it. Just enjoy how it looks. It doesn’t need to be more than that. It can just be this one thing you did REALLY WELL.
9. Physical self-care is important, but sometimes it’s all you can do to get in there, get in the water, run a bar of soap across your body and get out. And that’s totally fine. Bathing doesn’t need to be a spa-like experience. And if you’re at a point where brushing your teeth is a distant memory, I know that place. For me, what helped me get back in the habit was not some “oh go do your beautiful lovely self-care thing” kind of motive. One day I did and then I realized I liked how smooth my teeth felt. So that’s why I’ve continued being able to do it more often. I just like how smooth my teeth feel.
10. FUCK YOU CREATOR OF THIS LIST. Going for walks for me is a choice between “not getting very far and feeling pathetic” and “getting father and being in so much pain I lose balance and nearly puke”. And even when it wasn’t, when I was fat, people in my neighborhood commented on me and my fatness and my trying to power walk and then learn to jog. Also, smiling at strangers pushes buttons I have concerning social anxiety, and it can be invasive at times to someone else’s space when they clearly want to be LEFT ALONE. And as for my dog? What my dog has taught me is that ALL THE THINGS CAN BE CHEWED AND EATEN, fetch sucks, tug rules, and there is no surface you shouldn’t pee on. And also that sticking your nose in someone’s butt or crotch is an acceptable form of hell. So come to my house, list maker, I will show you how my dog has taught me to put my nose in your crotch.
11. Maintaining relationships is good. And I don’t have a lot of argument with this except maybe ask yourself WHY you fell out of contact. Sometimes a weird and good side effect of being ill/disabled is that the people who were never gonna be helpful or a genuine support system just slide away. And if you’re anxious, that’s okay. If it turns out there’s no one you wanna revisit, that’s okay. But I’m not okay with the emphasis on “pushing” here.
12. Apparently there is no twelve.
13. This question bothers me a bit. Because reading isn’t always so great for people. Or so easy. Dyslexia anyone? ADHD? Or just plain old being tired as fuck. Feel free to substitute this for websites, movies, TV shows, comic books, graphic novels and other forms of media. Also, books of all kinds are not universally accessible to all people. Sometimes, people are limited to the library (if they’re lucky enough to have one). I suggest that you find what you can, in whatever form you can, and try it. And don’t be afraid to say “this sucks like an electrolux” and move on. This is not school, you are not obligated to finish bad books, bad movies, or bad anythings.
14. WHAT THE FUCK DOES THAT EVEN MEAN, LIST MAKER? Fine, try to be a nicer person in traffic (if you even have a car, as opposed to bus riding and walking), that’s cool. What the fuck kind of advice is “pay double for parking tickets?” How the fuck are we supposed to afford the rest of your list if we’re doing that? Sticking out tongues at babies. Because it’s nice when a baby who’s finally calmed down, sitting next to an exhausted, overwrought mother can start crying again because your face made weird shapes that the child does not yet understand due to brain development. Fine, compliment people if you can. If not, it’s okay just to appreciate them silently. Maybe they don’t wanna have an interaction with you right then. Also, if you’re visibly queer or trans and don’t past (especially for trans women), making a compliment can turn into something horrible. Especially in a bathroom full of my fellow cis women who are transphobic as fuck and violent about it. And as for ridiculing, how about no. How about we DO ridicule the racists, the transphobes, the ableists, the government officials making life miserable for the most vulnerable of us. Why don’t we spend two weeks doing THAT. And a triple fuck you for “walk with a straight posture”. Scoliosis, motherfucker? HAVE YOU HEARD OF IT? I can’t even with this ableist oblivious crap. And the whole looking people in the eye, asking people about “their story” (WTF?) is not good self-care at all for some autistic people, people with social anxiety and others. Yes, you should try to reach out when and where you can but jesus, you can start smaller and you can WAIT TO SEE IF THE PERSON RECIPROCATES OR SAYS “FUCK OFF”.
15. You have obviously never heard of photosensitivity due to meds or other conditions or skin cancers. And fuck you for thinking it’s so easy if “failure weren’t a thing”. How about if oppressive motherfuckers who make everything from jobs to the mere act of eating MORE DIFFICULT AND SOMETIMES IMPOSSIBLE weren’t a thing. Hey, I know. I’m gonna lay in the sunshine and dream about a life I’d lead if I didn’t have mental illness. I’m gonna open my eyes and through small steps and life affirmation, my mental illness will just float away on a cloud of my happy thought.