It’s been years in the unlearning, but I’m slowly learning to quit the annoying habit of martyring myself for other people’s feelings. On the whole I’ve improved leaps and bounds, but quarantine has been a bit of a regression on that front; I haven’t been amazing at staying balanced and taking care of my mental health even if I preach it to friends or loved ones who have apologized for not being as in touch or communicative as they think they should be. Part of that is learning to be kinder to myself, and not to use words like indulge or treat when it’s just taking care of myself; self-care is not a privilege, it’s a necessity, and it’s not just bubble baths or shopping sprees or coloring books.
Like most people, in the last few months I’ve been redefining words comfort and luxury. I have been incredibly fortunate that I and my husband both have steady income and have it significantly easier than many right now…which is probably part of the reason I’ve been pushing down any negative feelings. Why am I complaining when I can pay bills, still have a roof over our heads, and we and our families are healthy? I don’t know. I’m learning to be nicer to myself and allow room for some of those feelings when they happen, and instead turn to more of the comforting habits and rituals that I’ve adopted in the last few months – stuff that mostly doesn’t cost money or put me in a spiral.
Here are a few things that improve my mindset or environment,, make me feel more comfortable or productive, or are just fun and feel good.
- Waking up on a direct deposit and either adding to my savings account or paying down my credit card balance. After reassessing some of my problematic money habits, more effectively and adding to my savings getting rid of debt has been so rewarding. I’ve found that waking up and putting money either towards paying off debt or building our house fund is a motivating and easy way to start the day and emotional saving is basically the opposite of emotional shopping so win-win!
- Buying myself flowers. The bunch pictured above was a bouquet from Brave Floral, one of my favorite local florists, that I got myself a few months ago. I try to support local businesses when I can, but when I can’t be as speedy, I’ll scoop up a $5 bunch of flowers from Trader Joe’s or Shop Rite when I can’t be as spendy.
- Wearing socks that are cute, comfy, or both. Fall officially starts tomorrow but the last few days in NJ have been solidly in the 50 degree zone and I neeeeeed socks to cover my chilly feet. As a recovering no-show socks only wearer, I love these practical and hardy Dueple socks in a bright colors (the Neon Pie and Egg Master colors are so cute and colorful with plain white sneakers). Sock Candy does really cute socks that are on my list. I also have some wildly fancy and slightly impractical Lirika Matoshi tulle socks on my list.
- “Dressing up” in general. To be honest this mostly means not wearing sweatpants and sweatshirts at the same time, but there’s something normal about wearing jeans and “real pants” even if I don’t leave the couch all day.
- Enjoying puzzle apps or printed puzzle books. Logic puzzle books like this one keep my brain busy when I want to curl up in a ball and scream, plus they have they have the added bonus of making me feel smug every time I complete one. I also really enjoy Flash escape games, which I got into in web form years before IRL escape rooms were a thing. An old-fashioned printed puzzle book feels sooooo good to complete, but there are tons of free apps and websites full of logic puzzles, sudoku, crosswords, and escape games to keep your brain busy. Whether you like crosswords, word searches, sudoku, or another type of puzzle, find an app or a book that keeps your brain sharp.
- Chipping away at life admin on a regular basis. I have weird anxiety around simple tasks that usually disappears as soon as that task is completed and very much need a planner to keep myself on track. I try to schedule all my personal admin (clearing my inbox, tackling bills, checking my subscriptions, making doctor’s appointments, etc) throughout the week to keep things manageable and not daunting. Something as small as calling to schedule my eye doctor appointment can feel like climbing a mountain on an overwhelming day, so I try to sprinkle my tougher tasks throughout the week and take care of them before noon.
- Keeping my comfort shows/movies on in the background while I work. Some people listen to music while they work, but I find it almost too distracting; instead, I play some of my favorite shows or movies in the background – things I’ve watched many times before, that I can quote line for line, and that I can rely on for a few laughs when things are stressful. It’s different for everyone, but my some of my faves to keep in the background for this are The Office, Parks and Recreation, What’s Your Number? (literally one of the best underrated romantic comedies, even if the premise is cringe), the Beauty and the Beast movie with Emma Watson (honestly, I loved it and I thought it wasn’t as bad as people say it was).
- Making sure I squeeze in some time for “fun” reading. Sometimes it’s brain candy novels that might not be intellectual, but always feel fun; other times it’s catching up on blogs and lighthearted websites.
- Doing something nice for my loved ones. Because taking care of my partner and family and friends feels restorative, too.