I am constantly surprised and delighted at the tangible impact of self-care — in my case, little but abiding actions that contribute, mainly, to a Life Lived Less Anxiously, with benefits that cascade through the rest of my experience. Particularly in the last year, wading through the swamp of rebuilding your life from scratch in a place you’ve never been to and don’t know at all. This will not be a recitation of my routine (which is undefined and abstract, at best) as that strays too closely to the realm of recommendation, something self-care is too individualised and unique for. Instead, these are notes from a world where I happily and mostly consistently support myself, a trend that peaked when I ensured I would never forget my keys inside my flat ever again. It’s a little bit a pat on the back, and a lot an ode to the unsung heroes keeping me from coming apart at the seams.
My relationship with the hair on my body is somewhat arbitrary — I often don’t care, but when I do, I love my work. This is true for the hair on my legs and the hair on my head alike. The only exception to this rule are my eyebrows. For reasons unknown to me, they exist on an entirely different level of hair removal, inspiring a slowly deepening joy that infuses my entire body. I cannot really describe the feeling of looking at my own reflection post-pluck, and reveling in the arch of my brows, except to say that it never, ever fails to lift my mood. There is something about the level of care and attentiveness required to pluck your eyebrows that soothes the places in my soul that sometimes stir restlessly with perceived neglect.
Nothing makes me feel more in control than taking a comprehensive accounting of my finances. My relationship with money has been largely toxic and filled with defeat for most of my adult life, and coming out of that was one of the hardest, longest slogs I’ve ever undertaken. This is not about that though. Just one of the results: reviewing purchases, drawing up budgets, making wishlists, gathering my own financial data, makes me feel the kind of calm and on top of things very little else has the ability to do. Even if I’m broke as hell (which, for the record, I currently am), it’s less about the state of my finances and more about actually knowing that state. Intimately. Sitting with, and sometimes actively wrestling, my finances gives me a strong sense of competency. And gods, that’s difficult, especially when it comes to money.
Languidly smoothing Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula into every single inch of my skin makes me feel terribly, fiercely loved.
I’m disgusted by how great exercise makes me feel. I don’t agree with the whole thing on principle, primarily because I like being sedentary and I just want to live my life. I was reeled in by the wild hope it would help me sort out my anxiety. Yoga was my calling because, as I explained to a friend last year, “I will surrender to the exercise, but I want to do slow exercise” which is precisely yoga, but with all the necessary sweating (the prana can leave you all the way shook). It delivered in spades too. Kissing that anxiety goodbye in the mornings from the peaceful joy that is extended child’s pose. Reasons for doing yoga: affirmed. What I wasn’t expecting was the clarity of mind and the absence of a certain sluggishness in my soul, the warm burst of vitality that emerges somewhere between my last yogic breath and my first cup of coffee (decaf, because we’re dead serious about disempowering our anxiety).
I have a character I created, many, many years ago, as a young teen flush with the first successes of online roleplay and collaborative writing. She was, and still is, my first great love. Somehow, she has survived the numerous twists and turns of my life… somehow. Retired these last few years, a few months ago, I was feeling lonely so I picked her up out of the murky corners of my brain, dusted her off, and trotted her back into a story. It feels a bit like coming home.