Lately I’ve been trying to incorporate more self care into my life, but it’s becoming more important because I’ve been sick. I know that I’ve pushed myself a lot these past several months, but I think that’s normal for writers. If we’re working in writing full-time, then we need to hustle to keep work flowing and maintain business, part-time writers often have multiple jobs, and those who write in their spare time are basically spending their few free moments working.
Slowing down and caring for myself these past couple of weeks has me thinking about what kinds of self care activities might be especially great for writers. While this is not meant to cure your clinical depression or combat major issues, these suggestions are great for improving your life as a writer with self care strategies that fit in with your writer goals and identity.
Journaling is a natural choice for writers because it involves writing. There are tons of ways to do it: you can use a notebook, open a word doc, start a blog, use your phone, or just write on scraps that you keep in a notebook or folder (or throw away). You don’t have to write out lengthy entries; you could try lists, stick to the basics, or even try your hand at art journaling.
Regularly journaling can help you work through you feelings, stick to goals, focus on the positive, and mine your brain for ideas. Set aside a few minutes a day for a week and see how it goes. If you forget for a while or get too busy, just come back to it when you can. (Self care shouldn’t become a stressor.)
Having a Warm Cuppa
People often associate the word “cuppa” with tea, but it could mean coffee, cocoa, or hot apple cider. (If you’re sensitive to caffeine, you may want to opt for decaf.) The drink will warm and soothe you, and you can even gain other benefits if you want to explore the world of herbal teas. (I’m currently sipping on Chai tea as I write this.)
What’s great about a warm drink is that it so easily fits into your day. You can have it at home, at work, or on the go. You can make it yourself for almost nothing or you can pick up a pre-made drink. It’s also a quick option because you can microwave water for tea or instant cocoa in 2 minutes.
Most writers I know love to read. After all, isn’t that why a lot of us started writing? Sometimes we may not get enough time to read or might dismiss it as a low priority because of other responsibilities, but I’d argue that that’s a mistake.
Not only does reading help you become a better writer, but it can also be part of your self care. Reading keeps your mind sharp and provides enjoyment, which can boost your mood. It also helps you relax, which is great for helping you cope with everyday stress.
As a writer, you likely appreciate well-written words. Quotes usually fit that bill and can be great reminders to treat ourselves well. Collecting great quotes that appeal to your sense of self care and personal values can be a great way to help you take care of your needs while also helping you further your writing goals. By reading good quotes by others, you’ll help yourself improve your own writing.
You can collect your quotes in a journal or digital file, or you can display them in your home. I like to post quotes on my refrigerator and around my living space. I also use favorite quotes as my lock screen on my phone to remind myself of my purpose, value, and/or goals.
Soaking in the Tub
A warm bath is very restorative and can help you cope with mild discomfort. You can even go one step forward and add bath salts to create a mini spa experience.
One of the coolest parts about baths is that you can also get work done. I love writing on my phone in the bathtub (thanks Google Drive!). It’s a great way to take care of yourself and still fit in you writing tasks. Don’t want to work? You can also read in the tub.
Get Some Activity
Writing is a sedentary activity, so make sure that you factor activity into your day, even if it’s just walking. I like to take ten to fifteen minute activity breaks throughout the day to dance, do a little cardio, or do a few yoga stretches. I also like to go for a walk.
The type of activity you choose – whether it’s a workout program, active hobby, or a variety of activities spread throughout the day – is up to you. Getting in activity will help you stay healthy, and it will release chemicals in your body that naturally boost your mood and help you cope with stress.
Take Breaks From Writing
Not only should you have hobbies or work that are separate from writing, but I recommend making plans with others that you aren’t likely to break, such as dinner with your family or a friend. Writing is often more of a calling than a job, and it’s easy to get caught up in our art. That’s destructive, though. Writing too much can push you into stress or depression, and what you’re working on can affect your mood.
Try other hobbies, such as art, knitting, cooking, crafts, carpentry, or collecting something. Personally, I’m also an artist and collect vinyl. I have artist friends who check on me when I miss our regular gatherings, and I attend a lot of art events.
I also make regular plans that make me stop writing and completely leave my computer, even if I’m mid-sentence. I’ve left a sentence hanging because my ride showed up. I always feel refreshed after a break and grateful that I have people in my life who value my work but expect me to stop for them.
Stop for the people in your life.
Take Care of Yourself
Everyone needs self care, so don’t neglect yourself. You deserve to treat yourself well, and in the long run it helps you better accomplish your responsibilities. Don’t wait until you’re stressed to the max or get sick to slow down and take care. Try a new technique today.
What are your favorite ways to do self care?