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Self Care

2015 March 9

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I think I speak for everyone when I say that this winter has been rough. Brutal, even. The relentless snow, punishing cold, icy sidewalks, and gray skies have had a striking emotional and physical impact on me. Because of the towering snow piles and transit issues, I’ve barely seen friends in the last two months. I’ve also been remiss in getting to the gym (as in, I’ve gone about 5 times this entire year). I’ve sought comfort in ice cream, burgers & fries, beer, and cheese. For more details on that, see here.  I haven’t been writing. As you may have noticed, I  haven’t even been blogging. This winter has been one enormous rut and I’m determined to get out of it.

Back in November, the Hairpin launched a new column about the concept of self care. It wasn’t something I necessarily thought about in any kind of meaningful way until I read the first column. But, as I read, it dawned on me that self-care is an actual thing that people do. Of course, it means different things to different people–that’s one of the basic points of the Hairpin column. But it was a little bit revelatory to think that people should have systems in place to take care of themselves–not just in the sense of watching a funny movie or calling a friend when you’re sad, or meditating when you’re stressed out, but actually having rituals that are about checking in and taking care of yourself on a regular basis.

February was a particularly difficult month. Boston got nearly 8 feet of snow, the commute was a daily nightmare, and beyond that, I was dealing with work travel, a breakup, and my grandmother’s death. All things considered, these last five weeks have left me exhausted and run down. I was running around, traveling for work and for family reasons, and because I was staying late at the office to try and compensate for all the time I was out of the office, I was neglecting important parts of my routine, like working out and doing laundry and grocery shopping. I did things in fitful bursts and starts– a hurried grocery run to buy groceries that then just sat in my refrigerator, uneaten, as I was off again to RI. An attempt to do laundry thwarted by a broken dryer. By the time I got back to Boston from RI on Friday, I felt like I was never going to catch up.

But yesterday I did four loads of laundry, cleaned my bathroom, went grocery shopping, and cooked dinner and made lunches for the rest of the week. This morning, I went to the gym for the first time in weeks. Already, I feel the fog lifting, along with the cold. I can catch up–I will catch up.

On Friday, on my way back to Boston, I did some shopping. I spent nearly $200 on items that definitely fall into the self-care category: face wash, shampoo & conditioner, some pretty nail polish, hand cream, moisturizer, and eye cream.  This is WAY more money than I normally spend on skincare products, but everything has felt dry and beaten up, and I thought that investing in my skin and my hair might help me feel (and look) a little better in the coming months.

That’s one type of self-care. The other type I’m focusing on this month is making fitness a priority. It’s fallen by the wayside ever since I moved to Boston, and I’d love to get back into the routine of working out 4-5 times a week. I always feel stronger and more self-assured when I’m in shape. I’m also really going to try and work on making smarter choices about what I eat and drink. My main problem seems to be just mindlessly eating junk because it’s there, and because I think it’s going to make me feel better. It almost never does, and in fact, because I’ve gained weight, it’s all making me feel much, much worse.

The third kind of self-care I’m making a priority right now is taking time for myself. It’s in my nature to rush around and be busy, always trying to make plans and throw parties and organize outings. These social events do make me happy, but I haven’t been balancing social time with enough alone time–time to myself to just sit and read or write and just be quiet. I underestimate how much I need that to feel an equilibrium.

So, for now, my self-care goals are to take better care of my skin and my hair; work out regularly; make smart choices by eating and drinking mindfully; and spend more time alone, being quiet.

What does self-care mean to you? Do you have any self-care goals to help you recover from this winter?


*image via Design Sponge

3 Responses Post a comment
  1. Emily permalink
    March 9, 2015

    What timing! Just gave birth to my 2nd, and I am the lowest thing on my priority list. Not good! You’ve got me thinking, and one way I know I can focus on myself us by giving my body healthy food. I’m not sure what else I can do right now, but you’ve inspired me to brainstorm! Thank you!

  2. March 13, 2015

    What a great post about an essential element of one’s life. Your description of East Coast winters rings so true to me, and they’re not something I miss, for all the reasons you list. I, too, am trying to exercise more and make healthier eating choices. Two self-care tactics that have worked well for me over the years are my self-prescribed “mental health days,” usually taken once or twice a year, during which I catch up on sleep, detach from the cyber world, read, do yoga, get out in nature, maybe do some writing, and otherwise just give myself a break from everyday life: no work of any kind (school, professional, house), no socializing, just me time. And to get through those 6 months of grey and cold each year in New York, I would throw myself at least one Sunshine Party per winter. If you’d like to know more about that, you know how to reach me. : )

  3. March 25, 2015

    Catching up on your posts (so happy to see so many!) Over the past few years I’ve tried to work hard to save some extra $$ to treat myself to self-care moments. I’ll allow myself to buy the better shampoos or lotions or makeup when I can (because I truly do feel and see a difference) and I’ve even kept my eye peeled for the occasional spa deal that will offer a discount on a massage or facial. I don’t have the budget to indulge ALL the time, but when I can I really do feel so much better. It’s such a funny thing or society does at times…pushing the importance of taking care of everyone else before yourself. Not that I’m condoning selfishness but I think a little “me time” and pampering can make all the difference in the world. To paraphrase Janis Joplin, “you are all you’ve got.”

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