July 24th was International Self-Care Day. Self-care has become something really important to me ever since I acknowledged that I had depression and anxiety. When there’s a pandemic going on, the importance of self-care becomes exponentially higher. There’s a few things I do for my self-care that I’m happy to share, I just want to note that each person is different so what works for me may not work for you.
I have openly spoken about my experiences in going to therapy. One of my biggest take-aways from therapy is learning and understanding my anxiety and what self-care techniques are the best for managing it. Throughout this whole pandemic (not a fun experience for people with anxiety), I have been able to do weekly appointments via telehealth with my therapist and this has been one of the most important supports I have for my anxiety. I have become a strong advocate for seeking out therapy based on what it has done for me.
Taking a Bath
In our house about twice a week, I give myself an hour that is uninterrupted time where I can grab a bath bomb and a book and read in the bathtub. It’s a quiet period of letting myself hit a reset button when life with kids can get really hectic (especially now with kids being stuck at home so much). I even learned how to make bath bombs this past spring and left some in bags on the doorsteps of some of the other moms in my neighborhood to sort of remind them to take some time for themselves in the middle of all of this.
For a little over two years I’ve become a fan of Fortune Cookie Soap since they do a lot of fandom based bath and body products. The bath bombs I don’t make are usually from their collections, and I get so excited about lines inspired by things like Avengers or The Princess Bride that I can’t wait to use those products, so I’m taking better care of skin and hair. Sometimes a really bad anxiety bout can be eased by making myself go take a shower. The pounding of the hot water physically redirects my attention and I come out of a shower cleaner than I went in so that feeling of having taken care of myself can really help.
Picking Soothing Media Types
Another thing I realized on my therapy journey, was that certain media types are more soothing when my anxiety is high. Right now, I watch a lot more comedies and family friendly stuff, including rewatching stuff I love like Parks & Rec or Brooklyn 99 because they’re particularly comforting to me right now. I admit I got behind watching Riverdale this year, the dramatic How to Get Away With Murder inspired is Jughead dead storyline was just too overwhelming for me to deal with, so I took a little break. While I loved watching Locke & Key earlier this year when it released, by pandemic the comic was a bit to intense for me at the moment. I also believe the Netflix adaption toned some stuff down just a touch once there was a child actor on set. I am planning on watching The Umbrella Academy, but that show has enough humor that it’s easier to deal with more tense parts. The trailer even has Klaus and Ben literally rolling on the ground slap fighting each other, so I’m looking forward to those antics.
I also favor calmer video and computer games. First person shooter type things are horrible for my anxiety. But games like Animal Crossing, Stardew Valley, The Sims, and Planet Zoo are much calmer and soothing for me. When I described these games to my therapist, she noticed a lot of these had some sort of caretaker role build into them. They often including some sort of aspect of nurturing things. Now that I know why I like these games, it makes it easier for me to find others like them.
When it comes to books, there’s clearly a reason I get pulled to the romance genre are books with a strong romantic element. There’s often a form of “Happily Ever After” to the storylines that I can count on, which is also very appealing to me.
Along the way, I have discovered that routine is really big for me in managing my anxiety. While my schedule doesn’t necessarily need every moment accounted for, having certain things around the house assigned to certain days really helps me manage the day and feel less overwhelmed because when I get overwhelmed, the anxiety kicks in. Checking in with my husband to sort out what needs to happen during a week so that everyone knows what needs to happen when is also really helpful for me too.
Again, this doesn’t mean everything has to be tightly structured, and I have an easier time saying yes to certain “Lazy Days” around the house right now when I know all the important stuff has been delegated and dealt with.
I am happier when I’m crafting which helps me manage my anxiety. This is unfortunately a hobby that took a back seat when my kids were younger and in development stages where they were less independent. Like a lot of parents with kids in that stage, some of my hobbies got shelved and I never quite got back to them. In the past year, I’ve tried to get back to that more. Not only did we learn tie-dye and bath bomb making while stuck at home, but I did something for myself and ordered a new cross-stitch kit. I’m in a better head space when I’m crafting, so I’m trying to make an effort to work time for it into my schedule more.
I feel like the people I surround myself with can make a big difference in how I deal with my anxiety, Good, supportive people encourage good self-care and understand when you need to put certain limits or boundaries in place. I have several regular ways to check in and connect with people while all of this pandemic stuff is going on, and sometimes a really good Zoom chat or phone call makes a huge difference in how I’m doing.
Your best self-care techniques make vary, but I thought I would share some of my own. Remember, it’s easy as a parent to forget to take care of yourself because you can feel like you’re busy taking care of everyone else. You are important too, treat yourself like you are.