Good afternoon, friends!
I was posed a question at work the other day: Why do I write (even occasionally) about self-care?
After all, I am an author. Shouldn’t my blog be all about writing tips and information about self-publishing etc. etc.
My response: A lot of authors, especially self-publishing authors, neglect themselves in some fashion. We work full-time jobs, have families, and we have to sleep at some point, so much of our “free time” is spent writing, and when we have to make sacrifices in order to carve out more writing time, a lot of times it is to the detriment of our physical, emotional, or mental health.
So, I occasionally write about self-care because I hope it is a reminder to other authors that those things matter and should be attended to regularly. These ideas aren’t anything new or original, but they’re tried and true. They work wonders for me, and if you haven’t tried them for yourself, it is my hope they will work for you too.
All that said, today I want to share five five-minute no or low-cost self-care ideas that have made a big impact for me because I don’t always have the time to devote a few hours for this, nor the money to splurge on a bunch of stuff.
When I was a kid my mother made lists for everything, especially cleaning lists, and I hated them. Saturday morning came along and we had a list of chores to do and none of them included watching tv or going to the mall.
Now I love, love, love lists and I know why my mother wrote so many of them. If I can take a few minutes and jot down the things that need to be done that day or even that week, then I do not have to worry about remembering everything or forgetting anything. I can prioritize things visually rather than shifting through it mentally. And the best part is checking off completed tasks. Few things in life are as satisfying as a completed checklist. Truth be told, I generally make more lists at work than I do at home, but coming home on Friday evening knowing I didn’t forget anything important at work helps me relax so much more. Focusing on writing would be damn near impossible without this peace of mind.
No Fuss Hair and Skincare
Anyone who knows me personally knows my affinity for hair products. In fact, I consider going to CVS and sniffing my way through the shampoo aisle to be an act of self-care. (Currently, I’m obsessed with Hask’s Argan oil shampoo) But, sometimes doing a full at-home spa treatment is just too time consuming when there is a chapter to write or an appointment to keep. Two of my favorite products are ones you apply and forget.
For my hair: Abyssinian oil. Can be applied to either damp or dry hair (I stick to just applying to my ends, never on my roots.) But I know my hair will always be silky, have less frizz, and while the oil I linked to has very little fragrance, there are other brands out there who amp up the fragrance and smell amazing. [Do it cheaper: mix equal parts water and your favorite conditioner into a spritz bottle and voila, DIY leave-in conditioner.]
For my face: Bath and Body Works’ CocoShea Cucumber Face Mask.** I store mine in the fridge during the warmer months—so refreshing! I mean, I am a huge fan of face masks. But, there is something nice about being able to apply this one and either get lost in my manuscript or go to bed and not have to worry about screwing up my skin because I forgot to take the mask off in time. [Do it cheaper: While not a leave-on face mask, simply save your tea bags. Chilled, they can be used on the eyelids, and once they’ve done their eye-duty, they can be split open (over the sink) and used to exfoliate your hands.)
**edited to add: I have just learned this mask is being discontinued by B&BW, though it may just be a packaging change, I’m not sure. But, I am positive they will replace it with something similar, and if not, you can find something similar elsewhere.
No kidding—I dance a lot. Generally when no one is around, but I dance while I cook, I dance while I clean, I even have a little shimmy I do when I transfer laundry from the washer into the dryer. I may spend more than five minutes a day dancing. But, give it a try. It’s a nice little energy-booster for me. You don’t have to be good at it; I am surely not. But talent doesn’t mean squat here, all you’re looking for is the release of endorphins.
This one only needs five minutes, but it may be the hardest to do because other people exist. (I said what I said.) For me, this is easiest accomplished in the wee hours of the morning. I’m an early riser, meaning I am drinking my first cup of coffee at around 4:30. Usually the only thing that interrupts my quiet time at this time of day is if there’s a siren outside or if something makes my dogs bark or if my upstairs neighbor tromps down the stairs (there’s something about him I loathe.) but generally, I can get at least five uninterrupted minutes of quiet.
Your mind will race. You’ll start forming that mental list for the day. But eventually, you’ll just let yourself be quiet and breathe.
Maybe you can sneak away to the bathroom for five minutes, or steal a few minutes just to stand under the warm shower. Go to bed five minutes before your spouse, just to lie there in the quiet. Don’t turn on the radio for the first few minutes of your commute. (I don’t have kids, but I heard that if you tell them that you’re going to take a nap for a few minutes and when you get up everyone is cleaning house, they’ll be super quiet as long as they can because they don’t want you to wake up and make them clean.)
You might be surprised by the ideas that pop up when you’re being quiet.
I love essential oils. I’m not here to debate the validity of alternative medicine, but you can’t deny that many of them smell really, really good. My husband bought me a wonderful diffuser for Christmas a couple years ago, and I love it. As soon as I turn it on, the aroma of whatever oil I’ve added is instantly flowing throughout the space. Now, I know I’m trying to give you quick ideas that don’t cost much, and there are many essential oils that cost a pretty penny, but let me introduce you to PipingRock. (I am not an affiliate, only a dedicated patron!) where there is always a sale going on, and the prices for oils are generally much lower than other places without sacrificing quality.
My personal favorite “starter” oils, if you don’t currently use them: Lavender, chamomile, sweet orange, eucalyptus, peppermint, lemon, cedar wood, and grapefruit. (For use on the skin, my favorite carrier oils are almond or grape seed. The following combinations are meant for a diffuser, as they do not include a carrier oil.)
Lavender + chamomile + cedar wood = sleepy time
Lavender + lemon + eucalyptus = breath easier
Lavender + lemon + sweet orange + grapefruit + peppermint = energy
[Do it cheaper: Don’t have a diffuser? Put a few drops into the top basin of an oil warmer like this one, and all you need is a tealight candle.]
And that’s it for today.
Please remember: be cruel to your characters if you must, but do not be cruel to yourself. Take care. xoxo