How do you engage in offbeat self-care?

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art fingers #1
I’ve been investigating the concept of “self-care.” But sometimes the tips I find don’t really work for me, even though they work for other people. For example, some people find buying a new nail polish and then taking the time to paint their nails is relaxing and boosts their mood.

So I thought that the Offbeat Homies would be a great way to come up with some novel ideas for self care.

I’ll start! Every morning I do a nice “self-care” thing for myself that may not seem like a big deal, but it really makes me happy.

After waking up and checking my phone to make sure there’s been no Empire urgencies (Empire-gencies?), I do all my morning chores — brush teeth, put on pants, walk dogs, discard poop, and feed all the beasts. Then I make myself my favorite coffee, and four pieces of toast with salt. Then I sit down to eat quietly and watch one of my favorite TV shows (whatever the DVR recorded the night before usually). I could get straight to work, but I take that time to center myself, indulge in yummies, and relax before diving in.

Then, of course, there’s always wine at the end of the day.

But during REALLY bad times… PUZZLES.

Your turn: How do YOU engage in self-care?

Comments on How do you engage in offbeat self-care?

  1. My self care includes an internet binge at a cafe (I don’t have home internet yet) with hot tea. It let’s me be out in the world, getting sunlight and fresh air, and keeping my headphones in means I am left alone.
    I also paint, listen to music while walking, and play Sudoku. When my boyfriend is in town, a good snuggle helps.

    Also, Know Thyself. Acknowledging and following your limits is like following the fuel gauge. When it’s empty, you gas up your car. Likewise, keep an eye on yourself, and engage in self care before you run out of gas.

  2. I like to take time to create something. At work, I do a chalkboard drawing about whatever crazy observance day or holiday it may be. at home I draw or sew or plan some craft project. I made fleece hats for everybody this year for gifts as and it really got my day off to a great start. I would set the timer for 20 minutes, turn on the radio, finish my coffee, and stitch away. I need these “tuning fork” moments as my life functions better when I can think creatively.

  3. I make sure to go out to my favorite coffee place once a week with a good book just to chill, it’s nice to be somewhere where I don’t have any chores or work in the vicinity. I even make a point of leaving my laptop and sometimes even my phone at home. Another thing I love is having my hair washed, most of the time at a beauty parlor but usually not accompanying a haircut. I have an awesome shampoo girl that only charges six bucks (including the two dollar tip) to just lather up my hair and it seriously feels about as relaxing as a massage or spa day for me but at a fraction of the cost.

    • I have a favorite coffee shop that’s an hour’s drive away in the mountains. The drive there (and back) is part of the escape and self-care time. I’ll listen to podcasts, or sing loudly to music, or ride in silence — whatever feels best. When I reach the shop I buy a hot chocolate with extra whipped cream, and settle in to read or journal or watch the tourists walk by on the streets below. My phone gets barely any signal and there’s no wifi, so I can escape technology. I love it and go at least fortnightly.

  4. My self care is yoga. Some days that means practicing long and hard at poses that need improvement, other days its ten minutes doing some simple movement. Just taking some time to be and enjoy what my body can do (not what it can’t) really grounds me and reminds me to be aware of myself.

  5. I don’t do mornings but I get up before I actually have to so I can hang out with my dog on the couch for a while and listen to the radio (usually news, sometimes music). I do have a second alarm set up so that if we both doze off again (which happens frequently) I’ll still be on time for work.

    • I do this too! My kitten and I have snuggle time in the morning. I also have 3 alarms too (Wake up, Start getting ready, and leave the house) Knowing that I have time alone with my kitten to curl up in bed together is one of the highlights of my day!

      • I definitely just finished my morning kitteh snuggle time. It was even better today because my boyfriend woke up before he had to get out of bed so we had a few minutes to snuggle the baby together before he had to leave for work. And then I got the cuddles alllllll to myself for another hour ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Self-Care for me is making a point in taking a lunch-break and taking my mind off work completely for a while. This includes going outside, taking a walk down the block to the store and grab some food, then I get back to our breakroom, eat my lunch and read whatever book I’m currently at.
    We don’t really have the opportunity to sit outside or taking a nice walk, but I do make it a priority to at least get a couple of minutes outside and then reading in a book – even if it’s just for 15 Minutes – ensures I’m not dwelling on work-related issues but actually do what a lunch-break was meant to be: Relax for a bit and get back to work refreshed.

    • Totally this. If i eat in our lunch room people will come find me, and I’ll inevitably get pulled out of lunch early or for something that could wait. When i started eating lunch in the garden at work, my day got ten times better. So i guess my offbeat self- care idea is to hide at work? Lol

    • Lunchtime breaks are totally part of my self-care. I work at a computer, and I get a huge mood lift from leaving my desk at lunch, finding somewhere to eat where I can see the sky (eating outside is the best, but a window seat suffices in winter), and knit for a few minutes.

      I also try to remember to take breaks that don’t require DOING anything. Usually my work breaks are to find office supplies, check personal email, eat a quick snack…but those aren’t *really* breaks. My mind doesn’t disengage. Once a day, I try to find 5 minutes to leave my desk and got somewhere quiet where I can just sit. I need the quiet, alone time to recenter my thoughts.

  7. I couldn’t agree more, Keira. I am always telling hubs that he wouldn’t drive a car with an empty fuel tank, so he needs to fuel himself up accordingly!
    As for my self care…it always seems to happen by accident. I tend to get so busy that I only go into town if I need to do something(or things) so on the odd occasion that I find myself with an hour or two to kill between appointments, I wander slooooowwwwly around and go to the pretty boutique-y places I wouldn’t normally have the time to go to and maybe linger over some coffee in a particular Parisian style cafe that I like. I consciously avoid going to town where possible on my time off, but actually, it’s funny how different the place looks and feels when one can take their time and only visit indulgent places-it makes me feel truly rested. I need to do more of this! Thanks for the reminder.

  8. I do cross stitch. I’m doing an intense Christmas stocking right now. It takes enough mental focus, that I can’t think about other things in life, but not so much that it exhausts me. And then at the end, I have a completed project.

    Also, I love to get my hair cut (even if it’s just a trim). I love how it feels when they massage my head during the shampoo and conditioning process, and I love how my hair feels so soft and light afterwards.

    I also like to plan trips. My husband and I try to take a week long trip to somewhere every year. I set myself a budget and do research on the places to go, and eat, and stay. I put it all into a spreadsheet of information and then I reorganize the spreadsheet into different tabs with all of the info.

    I have a touch of OCD and I think the cross stitch and trip planning both comfort that side of me.

  9. Next week, my husband and I are moving to the opposite corner of the US. The logistics are quite stressful so when I had my last day of work, I scheduled a hair appointment because nothing relaxes me like having someone else massage my scalp. When I got in the chair, we decided to take my natural hair color to purple. Best. Decision. Ever. That gave me 2 scalp massages plus blow drying and nothing says pampered like regal purple hair crowning your head. Any time I’ve felt stressed since then I just play with it…

    In less extreme fashion, my husband and I are really into shibari work and he is quite a competent knotter. If I’m stressed he will tie me up in various harnesses. The tying releases endorphins similar to finishing a run, so it relaxes me quite well. And it offers great couple bonding and sometimes leads to fun and interesting nooky. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Every day stuff: When I get up in the morning, I light some lavender-scented incense and practice my fencing while the kettle boils. At work, I have a pretty teapot I use to make tea, so every couple hours is like a tiny tea party at my desk. I also make sure I take plenty of snacks so I don’t get hangry. When I get home, I take 5 minutes to aggressively snuggle my cat before diving into chores or hard-core relaxation.

    For more occasional stuff, I:
    – make delicious cocktails and share them with my husband
    – take long walks
    – spend long weekend mornings playing World of Warcraft and not feeling guilty about it
    – go on “market dates” where we go shopping at the farmers market and then have tamales for lunch
    – cook ambitious meals that take all day and make a mess

  11. Reading is a big one for me. Escaping into someone else’s world for a little bit really helps. I read at least 45 minutes a day during my commute (NYC subway) and it makes a huge difference.

    I also find cooking can be a really important part of self care for me. Making something nourishing ahead for the week gives me piece of mind, and spurs my creativity really nicely.

    Less often, but equally important-dancing crazy to live music. I love going to psychobilly shows (often even alone) and just dancing. I don’t have the energy for it as often as I’d like, but I always leave feeling super happy and calm!

    • YES COOKING!! I know, a lot of people don’t want to bother after having had a stressful day and would rather order pizza, but for me it’s quite the opposite. Performing mindless tasks like chopping vegetables helps me unwind from my intellectually challenging everyday life whilst still being able to get creative with different styles and recipes, it’s like meditation … I love good food and a glass of wine, so I find making and having a nice dinner rather relaxing.

  12. For me it’s making myself breakfast and eating it before I go to work, even if it makes me late I will still stop to eat my breakfast. It’s taking my 15 minute break at work when though my boss probably doesn’t like it. It’s going out for a hike in my favorite park during nicer weather and planning time for a swim at the indoor pool in the winter. While painting is restorative in many ways for me it’s also my second job so usually my self care revolves around making and eating good food and physical activity.

  13. I have come up with a variety of things over the years, mostly learned during my PhD attempt. I used to make it a point to take one day off a week. Period. Like totally off. More an issue when my job was school and that could suddenly take over every waking moment, whether in actual work or in guilt. But I still try to take an afternoon or something to just do whatever I want, no guilt. No mandatory errands, no cleaning (unless you like cleaning), no work or school.

    I also stress-bake. I am not a fan of cooking but I love baking. I found cookies are the easiest because i can then take a bunch to work (or to school or a friend’s house) and share! Baking itself relaxes me, I get some sweet treats, and I get to share them with other people. Kinda the same with crafts although I do crafts for me a little more often. But it’s something I enjoy and can show off or share.

    Bubble baths are another fave. Bath, book, music, candles. It’s time just for me that’s a bit indulgent because I splurge on bubble and bath stuff for those times. You can’t get distracted by the messy kitchen or think maybe you should put away your clothes.

    Exercise in my routine is also something I have been working on. It helps burn off a ton of stress so when I realize I’m not sleeping well, I think about whether I’ve done anything active. Yet another time I take for just me and a podcast or an audio book. Nothing else I can do when I’m on a walk or working out so I just focus on that and not on worrying about things.

    • Thanks for the “baskets” moment! I am so going to use your idea of taking time completely off every week. I don’t think I could manage a whole day, but I bet I could pull off an afternoon. I have several jobs that all happen from home, and so I’m basically “on duty” unless I’m asleep, and generally only end up taking time that’s really “off” when I’m really stressed out.

    • Little Red Lupine – I smiled a lot reading this. As a fellow academic, this is embarassingly the first year of my life in which I am insisting on a day off, all for me (which may include social time). Self care is a lot about stepping away from work for me. I also am insisting on one midweek date night, even if it is just a quick dinner, so that we make sure to check in without any computers or mobile devices getting in the way.

      I love reading in the bathtub, and I’m working on daily walk or yoga time. And cooking, which I’ve gotten away from in the last few years!

  14. Not really that offbeat, but knitting! I started knitting about a year ago and am completely addicted. It’s a great balance of relaxing and challenging. Plus the knitting community is made up of some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met, and I never have to buy hats/scarves/mittens/cozy socks again.

    • also a knitter. I have multiple projects going at once. some very complicated and drawn out, others just simple mindless things. that way I can pick and choose what my brain needs. I love starting projects and figuring out new techniques. I also love that it keeps my hands busy, because I’m prone to destructive behaviors like skin picking, hair pulling, or nail biting if I get antsy, anxious, or fidgety. I don’t have as much of a problem with that when I’ve kept up with my knitting.

  15. My morning routine is a cup of coffee and a half an hour on the couch watching the news, before I do anything like get a shower or start my day. If I don’t do this, my day just does not feel right.
    When I am feeling off or need to recharge, I get myself outside. Fresh air and some exercise always works for me. A few quiet moments at the beach watching the furbabies chase seagulls, a two hour hike in the woods at a local nature preserve, stomping around in the snow throwing snowballs to the furbabies is just what I need to reset my brain.

  16. When I have time at lunch, I go to my top-secret introvert spot and either do some journaling, pin all the things on Pinterest, or bring play a game on my tablet. I cherish my solitude.

  17. I agree with everyone who has said cooking/baking. For some reason making soup has always been my go-to when I’m angry or stressed. I also agree with the reading.

    As far as bodily care, I just let myself take really long showers every now and then. Self-head massage when I shampoo, exfoliate with my body brush and yummy smelling bath products, shave if I feel like it. Not the best environmentally but hopefully it’s offset by the fact that my showers are usually much shorter and by not showering daily anymore.

  18. The best self-care is always based on individuality. My therapist taught me to think of times when I was happy, then consider what was different about my life at the time, or what I was doing at the time, and work at putting more of that back into my life. I am often happier when I’ve been cooking, for example. So I make sure that I get the chance to cook on a regular basis, and follow my food cravings most of the time (because it’s more fun to cook something that you’ve really been craving). But if someone else hates cooking, it sure wouldn’t work for them as self-care.

    So I would actually start by asking myself what DOES make me happy? Reading for a little? You could squeeze a reading break into your morning. A nice hot shower? A cup of tea that’s a little indulgent because it’s a special brand? Find what speaks to you, and then find a way to squeeze it in on the regular.

    • That is a great way to think about what makes you happy and go backwards from there! Sometimes when I watch tv, it is supposed to be a break, but it just doesn’t work, so I think I need to go backwards ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. As far as everyday care goes my schedule has been so much more manageable since I’ve given up trying to exercise in the morning and instead moved it to the evening after work. I’m an artist and I work from home so my schedule tends to get a little screwy but I’ve found that I’ll get up early every day if all I have to worry about is coffee, oatmeal, and the Daily Show for an hour. Also reading a book during lunch, and getting regular exercise.

    For the times when I’m feeling crappy a pretty new nail polish or lipstick helps. So does taking a walk while listening to music, reading a book, knitting, working in my sketchbook, playing Final Fantasy, taking an Epsom salt bath while listening to podcasts, and watching those comfort shows you’ve seen a million times like Doctor Who and Firefly. Also wine.

  20. I recently-ish (3 months) started taking time to meditate every morning. I use a platform/app called headspace, because I’m new to this. I usually sit down to meditate just after my first cup of coffee. It does mean waking up 15 mins earlier to work it into my morning schedule (a huge hurdle for me initially) but I’ve learned that taking this time for me is so beneficial. I’ve never really tried to work something like this for me into my schedule before but I really can’t express how much I love it now that I’ve started taking that time.

  21. Iโ€™ve got a big commute every day and I made the choice to stop driving and start taking transit, so that I wasnโ€™t โ€œwastingโ€ the time. Now, each journey takes about 20 minutes more, but I can relax and read or cross stitch โ€“ depending on seat availability ๐Ÿ™‚

    Just having that wee spot of โ€œme timeโ€ means that I can switch off from work and, when I get home, Iโ€™m ready to give my full attention to my husband (and puppy!).

  22. When I first started to engage in self-care I was pretty good about finding ways for chilling out and feeding the parts of me that didn’t get fed taking care of others or pursuing my degree. After a while though, I was still feeling haggard and burned out. “But I’m taking a Quiet Time every morning!” I said (my quiet time consists of tea, journal and materials from my spiritual path and just contemplating and journaling about bits from it), “I listen to podcasts during my commute, I experiment with sewing and and craft projects, I have a beer after dinner and just watch my favorite show, I read fun stuff at bedtime”. Then it was pointed out to me that that stuff is great but self-care is also a lot like child-care: it’s regulating your behavior and habits in a way that is healthy for you. Like, come bed time my kid is convinced she wants to stay up until Forever, but I know she’ll be healthier and happier if she has lights out by 9 am (and there’s no point any earlier because she won’t settle down earlier than that and will work herself up to where she can’t sleep worrying about random things and then we’re both up late). I often think I can stay up “just a little longer” too, to finish something for work or to read one more chapter. But I KNOW I will be cranky and groggy the next day if I do, and that sleep is a huge piece of health and I will probably get sick more if I don’t stick to my personal bedtime. Rats. I never WANT to eat breakfast, but I know if I don’t I’ll have a little crash around 10 am when I’m at work and it wouldn’t be good for my health to skip it all the time. So I eat at least one fried egg. Also, sometimes self care is not an activity. Sometimes it’s doing nothing. Or napping.

    • “Then it was pointed out to me that that stuff is great but self-care is also a lot like child-care: it’s regulating your behavior and habits in a way that is healthy for you. ”

      This sentence just changed my life. Seriously, I’ve been struggling with putting too much pressure on myself and then feeling guilty when I can’t get it all done. I also have a hard time being forgiving of myself. This perspective of self-care being like child-care totally reframed the way I think about myself and the things I need to do to take care of myself. I’ve been feeling better and getting more of the stuff I want/need to do done ever since I read this. Thanks!

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