I was originally thinking about this post from a teaching perspective, i.e. “the boring parts of self care for you.” But I decided to reverse that and share with you the boring parts of self care for me… because I struggle, I’m a normal human, and I think a little vulnerability can both encouraging and helpful in a post like this. So here are a few things that I consider self-care, even though they’re also boring. You may read this and think some of these things are simply adult maturity. I would say that’s true. But I would also say that there are many adults out there who still don’t do these things. So if you’re taking care of yourself in these ways, remember that they really are valuable!
I don’t know why I get annoyed with taking medications and/or supplements… it’s literally so simple. But I do. And so I have to intentionally shift my view of supplements and medications from something I have to do to something I get to do for my own health and self care. I do think it’s really important to understand the purpose of any medication or supplement you take, and know that it does, in fact, benefit you.
Of course, taking care of my body is self care. But I often forget that, because my hygiene routines are so ingrained. Sometimes I just stop and think about taking a shower or brushing my teeth or trimming my nails more as a luxurious, spa-like experience than as just something I have to do. It helps me have a more loving attitude toward my own body and want to spend time taking care of myself. And, if you are struggling with mental illness and managed to take care of your body today, remember how valuable and important that is.
Scheduling and going to appointments
Going to appointments sucks sometimes. They can be frustrating, discouraging, and expensive. But I consider making my yearly medical appointments.. Even the dentist, which I hate… self-care. Preventative medicine absolutely falls into that category. And I am also trying to stay more on top of fun appointments, like hair cuts! That’s self-care too.
Disclaimer: I’m not in therapy at the moment. But I have seen a counselor in the past and it was nothing but helpful. A big part of that was because I was willing to do my homework outside of our sessions, which kept what I was learning in therapy fresh in my mind. Think about this: if you spent one hour a week in therapy, that leave 167 hours a week during which you’re not in therapy. That’s why therapists give out homework, so you can keep applying those skills throughout the week. If you’re doing your therapy homework, you’re taking care of your emotional health.
And getting good groceries, as in real food and not everything in the frozen aisle. Because I’m often just cooking for myself, I’ve found that getting a few items a few times a week is more helpful than trying to stock up. I don’t buy a lot of produce at once because if I do, I can’t eat it all quickly enough and something inevitably goes bad, leaving me frustrated and annoyed. Smaller trips help me stay on top of buying and preparing healthy food, which also helps me meal prep and not grab junk food takeout last minute.
During my college years, I got into the habit of doing my laundry about once a month. First off, the fact that I even had enough clothes to do that might be an issue! This sort of had a practical motivation: I didn’t have an apartment with a washer/dryer in unit and the campus facilities were generally terrible. So I’d wait until I could get to my parents’ house and wash clothes there. But this led to a bad habit of waiting on laundry even once I did have a washer and dryer in my home. And then last year, I had an apartment without one again, which just reinforced the bad habit. I also felt guilty if I washed small loads, feeling like I was wasting water.
But over the past year, I’ve been working on taking care of myself in this way and doing laundry more often. I’ve gotten rid of excess clothes, forcing me to wash mine more frequently. I’ve also gotten over the guilt of small loads, because most washers today have efficiency settings that help minimize wasted water. I feel so much better when I don’t have a giant pile of dirty clothes piled up.
I am a very tidy person, but I hate cleaning. I’ll pick up stuff and put it in its place all day, but scrubbing the bathtub and toilet? Ugh. But cleaning has become part of my self care routine. As I’ve grown in my sense of responsibility over my home, my desire to keep it fresh and clean has grown as well. In addition, since working in a hospital, I’ve become more aware of how quickly germs spread and how to keep things actually sanitary. This benefits my health and the health of anyone who comes to my apartment.
I’ve also become more aware of how important it is to take care of my car. We need to credit my boyfriend for that one, as he is very diligent about keeping his own car clean, and often washes mine! Cars are in investment. My car is nothing fancy, but it cost thousands of dollars and it is essential to help me get to work and everywhere else I need to go, so I need to take care of that investment. I want it to last as long as possible and stay in good shape. Ditto to staying on top of car maintenance. A small expense here and there is sooooo much better than waiting until something major needs repair.
I’m still not great at exercising consistently, but one thing that has helped is shifting my mindset from “I have to work out to be thinner” to focusing on exercise as self-care that benefits my health. Even though it seems obvious, we have to find workouts we actually like doing. I thought I had to do specific routines that I absolutely hated for so long, because the internet or my friends or whoever told me to. So I would just not be able to keep the habit. Now I do active things that I actually like, and so of course my motivation level is going up.
What “boring” things do you consider self-care? How do you manage the boring parts of self-care in your life? Let me know in the comments! As always, if you liked this post, give it a share! For more Ivory & Pine, subscribe to The Ivories below!