Instant Self-care for Writers

Self-care matters, even to LOLcats

Self-care is all the rage these days.  And there’s no shortage of tips and tricks about super-awesome strategies for creating a super-awesome you and keeping your new super-awesome you running like new. And those are all grand ideas.

What I sometimes struggle with is that much of it either won’t work for me or isn’t feasible right that moment. Let’s face it, sometimes you need to feel better now. Like right now.

Go for a walk and reconnect with nature? I live in Seattle. The weather doesn’t always invite you outside. Go to the spa? Yeah, I’ll just tell my boss that I’m leaving work in the middle of the day for a massage. He’s awesome, truly, but no. Just, no.

So, I’ve come up with my own list of instant self-care tips for those of us who need immediate assistance.

1. Drink water.

Your brain is a marvel. And it runs on water. My first clue that my brain is running dry is when I struggle to read what’s on my screen. When I can’t hold a thought, I need to drink water. Try it.

2. Take a short walk.

It doesn’t even have to be outdoors. Just a five-minute bathroom break. Get away from the screen and take some time to stop thinking. Grab a cup of tea, look outside, get the mail, take out the trash, walk around the office building…you get the idea. It doesn’t have to be a five-mile hike through the woods, but just something.

Pro tip: Getting some water helps ensure that you have a valid reason for a bathroom break later. Or so a friend tells me.

3. Stretch.

We sit a lot. For hours. It takes a toll, and before you know it, you’re stiff and sore because while your brain has been deep-diving into your work, the rest of you hasn’t moved for a good long while.

WebMD has 12 Simple Stretching Exercises you can do at your desk to get the blood flowing again. And you can feel an immediate lift.

My favorites are the shrugging, air circles and twist.

4. Breathe.

When you’re stressed or running short on energy, your breathing changes. And, as you know, that can reduce the amount of yummy oxygen that gets to your brain. Breathing slowly and mindfully gives your brain that needed oxygen and signals to the rest of your body to chill out.

The CalmClinic offers these 3 Effective Anxiety Breathing Exercises.
(Note: I haven’t tried these yet, but I’m adding them to my To Do list.)

Again, WebMD has some helpful Breathing Exercises for Relaxation.

5. Clean something.

Not your desk or your desktop. You. Brush your hair, brush your teeth, floss, wash your face…do something refreshing for your personal you.

When I’m home, I’ll take a shower. But when I’m in the office, I’ll brush my teeth or use a facial cleaning towelette to freshen up a bit. It may not make a radical difference in how you feel, but it can help you feel just a little bit better. And it only takes a few minutes.

6.Close unnecessary windows.

If you’re not using it , close it. That includes emails, browser tabs, programs, applications, documents, reference material…if you’re not using it right this second, it’s virtual clutter that’s pulling at your attention. You’re in charge; close it.

I’ve been closing my email and Internet browser a lot lately. It’s fabulous.

7. Eat something nourishing.

It’s easy to get busy and forget to eat. Before you know it, you’re ‘hangry.’ As much as I love cupcakes, a banana makes more sense. Or a hard-boiled egg. Or some nuts. Or some instant oatmeal. Freebase a spoonful of peanut butter. Whatever works as long as it’s something that feeds your body actual fuel because when your body feels better, you feel better.

Your body can only run on fumes for so long.

8. Close your eyes.

Just for a few minutes. If you’re sleepy or you’ve been staring at the screen for too long, this gives your eyeballs a much-needed break. It also helps block out visual stimulus to help make that break feel even better.

9. Ask yourself this crucial question.

if you're not gonna brush me, i'll do it myself“What can I do right this moment to help myself feel better?”

You are the expert on you.

And you know best what can help you feel better.

So while it’s great to look for ideas to up your self-care, take a moment to look inward and figure out what you can do right this moment to make life a little bit better.

It may be as simple as sitting up straight in your chair. And you don’t need a list to tell you that.

Other awesome self-care tips…

I’ve come across a couple of other online articles about self-care that I find both useful and, for the most part, realistic.

  • Author Chuck Wendig’s Self-care for Writers: Some Tips!. This one’s useful because he addresses self-care specifically for writers. He also takes a higher-level approach to changing certain mindsets and attitudes that can have a domino effect that makes your life more practical and less stressful. Good things to keep in mind.
  • Ellen Bard’s Tiny Budda article 45 Simple Self-care Practices for a Healthy Mind, Body, and Soul. In it, she covers both immediate self-care practices and longer-term self-care. Plus, she reminds you that “self-care isn’t a one-time deal.” So true.

Now, I’ve written long enough. Over to you. What are some of your favorite instant self-care practices? Or listicles? Share in the comments below.

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