For people who do not have depression, I think one thing that’s often misunderstood is the physical toll it can take on your body. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Pain and depression are closely related. Depression can cause pain — and pain can cause depression. Sometimes pain and depression create a vicious cycle in which pain worsens symptoms of depression, and then the resulting depression worsens feelings of pain.” Yesterday, I mentioned in my post that I was having a difficult mental health day. Today, I woke up and although my mental pain felt lighter, the physical pain in my body was worse. Everything ached and my body just wanted to shut down, but I convinced myself to get out of bed because not only am I so close to finishing this challenge, but my weekly deep clean task for the day was the living room, which is arguably the easiest weekly task.
Have Decided to Go Live in a Fort Made of Books, BRB
Our living room is pretty minimalist, so daily dusting and vacuuming takes care of most of it…except for the books. Because I’m a writer, you’re probably not surprised to hear that I love to read.
So, like many avid readers, I used to have a lot of books. And when I say a lot, it wouldn’t be hyperbolic to compare my stash to the library in Beauty and the Beast.
However, a few years ago, I, much like every other white woman in America, got heavily invested in the magic art of tidying and KonMari-ed the shit out of my stuff. I thought purging my books was going to be really difficult, but that turned out not to be the case. And now, in the midst of doing this housewife challenge, I’m feeling pretty glad that I chose to embrace some more minimalism in my life, especially when today’s weekly chore involved me individually dusting every book in our living room (which is still a lot, but it’s a fraction of what it used to be).
Because I’ve been doing this intense, high level cleaning for eleven days, this challenge has made me more aware and appreciative of my belongings. Sure, it started out with me complaining about how many loads of laundry I had to do in order to wash all the linens for two bedrooms, but that kind of excess has now been brought to my attention and I’m trying to correct it by getting rid of what we don’t need. The more stuff I have, the more stuff I have to clean.
I’m hoping I’ll be able to hang onto this feeling even when the challenge is over to help keep me conscious of how much stuff I acquire. Do I think it’s necessary to get rid of everything? No, of course not. Could I benefit from doing another Marie Kondo-style pass on my belongings? Probably.
Who knew dusting could spark a whole train of thought about the value of possessions? Marie Kondo probably did, but I’m not interviewing her because one, I don’t know her, and two, she seems like she has her life together like a Real Grown Up™ and I find that intimidating.
When I’m in the zone of creating something, I feel incredibly alive. My brain doesn’t feel foggy, I don’t notice how tired I am, and it’s like the rest of the world melts away. That’s how I know I’ve chosen the correct profession. Once I’m done creating something, I ride a high for a little bit, that euphoric feeling of satisfaction that comes with accomplishment. It’s wonderful.
Once I come down from that high, I am completely and thoroughly drained. Creating is hard work and it can take a lot out of you. Like the popular quote says, “You simply sit down at the typewriter, open your veins, and bleed.”
Self care is incredibly important to writers–or anyone who creates–for this exact reason. You can’t possibly continue to create and create and create without doing something to recharge or proverbial batteries unless you’re actively trying to have a breakdown.
I’ve talked a lot about mental health in the past and will continue to do so because I think it’s an incredibly important topic and because so many people deal with it, it is necessary to talk about it to help remove the stigma. Coupled with that is the need for self care. So often we’re told that we need to go go go and multitask and “do it all” but I know that for me, I need to take time to breathe. Below, check out my self care tips for those days when you need a recharge.
1. Take a nap.
Before you say anything, I know this isn’t always a viable option. My kid is four and two years ago he gave up naps completely because he suffers from a severe case of fear of missing out.
However, if you’re able, let yourself take a nap. You might not think you’ve been expending a ton of energy because you’ve been sitting at your computer instead of running a marathon, but creating is exhausting. You’re putting so much of yourself on the page and it’s necessary to allow yourself to rest. Plus, there’s nothing more decadent than sleeping in the middle of the day as an adult.
2. Watch a movie.
This might not seem like a huge treat in the age of epic Netflix binges, but there’s something to be said for letting yourself indulge in someone else’s creation. You’ve just done all this work to write your thing–let yourself consume someone else’s creativity for a little bit.
Plus, watching a movie (or an entire TV series, no judgment) requires zero effort except keeping your eyes open.
3. Read a book.
Whenever I feel like I’ve overextended myself, I like to let myself relax and enjoy a book from an author I love. This seems very similar to the last item on the list and it is, but reading is different. Even if you’re reading on an e-reader, you’re eliminating the stress of blue light on your eyes (like what happened when you stared at your computer for hours on end to finishing writing that thing). Plus, I feel that all writers are first and foremost readers. It’s why we fell in love with words and writing in the first place. Reading exposes us to different thoughts and ideas and turns of phrases we’d never considered that can trigger our minds to think in new ones to later create new content of our own.
My personal favorite? Anything by David Sedaris. In particular, “The Santaland Diaries” from Holidays on Ice. Regardless of the time of year, that essay both inspires and intimidates the fuck out of me.
4. Treat yourself to a fancy drink.
I don’t know about you, but I fall heavily into the stereotype of the writer fueled solely by coffee. I usually make my coffee at home, but every once in a while I’ll splurge and buy coffee like the bougie basic white girl I am. I don’t generally encourage using food as a reward because that can get into sketchy territory, but the occasional indulgence can make you feel good. If you’re on a tight budget, you could even make yourself a fancy coffee drink at home. Stock up on hot chocolate mix, whipped cream, and chocolate sauce to drizzle on top. If you’re not into coffee because you’re an alien, splurge on a tin of fancy tea. Or, if you drink neither, go get a fancy smoothie or something. The point is to treat yourself to an elevated version of something you love. After all, you just wrote a thing–you deserve it!
5. Go for a walk.
Seriously, you’ve been inside for how long working on this thing? You need some fresh air. Your skin hasn’t seen sunlight in god knows how long. Put on some sunscreen, put on your shoes, and go outside.
6. Hang out with a friend.
Remember those people you used to spend time with before you started writing that thing? Your friends? Take a break and hang out with them for a bit. Whatever you folks like to do, go do it. I’m an introvert and I don’t often like to leave my house because it’s too people-y outside. However, I do have a couple of people that don’t drain the life force out of me and hanging out with them is kind of nice. It gets me out of my own head and makes me stop staring at my navel for a minute, which is refreshing.
7. Do a face mask.
If you’ve never done one before, hang in there. Face masks are one of the simplest ways to pamper yourself and they require little to no money. You can get a basic mask from Target or Walmart or wherever for a couple bucks or you can make one at home with ingredients in your kitchen like oatmeal and honey. If I’m being honest, I used to view face masks as the height of vanity. But then I watched the reboot of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy on Netflix, and I was really struck by a comment Jonathan Van Ness said about face masks to a client: “It’s not vanity, it’s self care.”
I really think Jonathan is right. There’s nothing wrong with caring for the body you have and if that means spending ten minutes with a mask on your face, why not do it? It’s a simple way to indulge and treat yourself AND your skin will feel wonderful when you’re done. You’ve earned a reward–just do it! No one else has to see you in a mask if you don’t want to be seen.
What’s your favorite way to reward yourself or de-stress after you’ve finished a writing project? Let me know in the comments!
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Revealing personal information about yourself can be a little nerve wracking, even to family and friends, because you don’t know how they’re going to take it. Are they going to be cool about your new tattoo? Are they going to accept that you’re gay? Are they going to get all uptight about the fact that you keep Kevin Smith chained up in your basement? It’s hard to know what people will say until you actually tell them. I’ve found this to be true, except in one case. Sometimes, I say something so horrifying that the reaction is universally negative:
“I’m on antidepressants.”
I think they’d prefer I admitted to keeping Kevin Smith in my basement.