I was originally thinking about this post from a teaching perspective, i.e. “the boring parts of self care FOR YOU.” But I decided to reverse that and share with you the boring parts of self care for me… because I struggle, I’m a normal human, and I think a little vulnerability can both encouraging and helpful in a post like this. So here are a few things that I consider self-care, even though they’re also boring.
I don’t know why I get annoyed with taking medications and/or supplements… it’s literally so simple. But I do. And so I have to intentionally shift my view of supplements and medications from something I have to do to something I get to do for my own health and self-care.
Of course, taking care of my body is self-care. But I often forget that, because my hygiene routines are so ingrained in me. Sometimes I just stop and think about taking a shower or brushing my teeth or trimming my nails more as a self-care, spa-like experience than as just something I have to do. It helps me have a more loving attitude toward my own body and want to spend time taking care of myself. And, if you are struggling with mental illness and managed to take care of your body today, remember how valuable and important that is.
Scheduling and going to appointments
Going to appointments sucks sometimes. They can be frustrating, discouraging, and expensive. But I consider making my yearly medical appointments.. Even the dentist, which I hate… self-care. Preventative medicine absolutely falls into that category. And I am also trying to stay more on top of fun appointments, like hair cuts! That’s self-care too.
I'm often in and out of therapy, both for support for an emotionally taxing job as a therapist myself and for personal growth. A big part of what makes it helpful for me is because I am willing to do my homework outside of sessions, which keeps what I am learning in therapy fresh in my mind. Think about this: if you spent one hour a week in therapy, that leave 167 hours a week during which you’re not in therapy. That’s why therapists give out homework, so you can keep applying those skills throughout the week. If you’re doing your therapy homework, you’re taking care of your emotional health.
And getting good groceries, as in real food and not everything in the frozen aisle. Because I’m often just cooking for myself, I’ve found that getting a few items a few times a week is more helpful than trying to stock up. I don’t buy a lot of produce at once because if I do, I can’t eat it all quickly enough and something inevitably goes bad, leaving me frustrated and annoyed. So smaller trips help me stay on top of buying and preparing healthy food.
During my college years, I got into the habit of doing my laundry about once a month. First off, the fact that I even had enough clothes to do that might be an issue! This sort of had a practical motivation: I didn’t have an apartment with a washer/dryer in unit and the campus facilities were generally terrible. So I’d wait until I could get to my parents’ house and wash clothes there. But this led to a bad habit of waiting on laundry even once I did have a washer and dryer in my home. And then last year, I had an apartment without one again, which just reinforced the bad habit. I also felt guilty if I washed small loads, feeling like I was wasting water.
But over the past year, I’ve been working on taking care of myself in this way and doing laundry more often. I’ve gotten rid of excess clothes, forcing me to wash mine more frequently. I’ve also gotten over the guilt of small loads, because most washers today have efficiency settings that help minimize wasted water. I feel so much better when I don’t have a giant pile of dirty clothes piled up.
I am a very tidy person, but I hate cleaning. I’ll pick up stuff and put it in its place all day, but scrubbing the bathtub and toilet? Ugh. But cleaning has become part of my self-care routine. As I’ve grown in my sense of responsibility over my home, my desire to keep it fresh and clean has grown as well. In addition, since working in a hospital, I’ve become more aware of how quickly germs spread and how to keep things actually sanitary. This benefits my health and the health of anyone who comes to my apartment.
I’m still not great at exercising consistently, but one thing that has helped is shifting my mindset from “I have to work out to be thinner” to focusing on exercise as self-care that benefits my health. Even though it seems obvious, we have to find workouts we actually like doing. I thought I had to do specific routines that I absolutely hated for so long, because the internet or my friends or whoever told me to. So I would just not be able to keep the habit. Now I do active things that I actually like, and so of course my motivation level is going up.
What “boring” things do you consider self-care? How do you manage the boring parts of self-care in your life? Let me know in the comments!