July 24th is International Self-Care Day! I love doing things to treat myself or recharge- this often involves bath bombs, good books, and petting every dog I see. For this post, though, I wanted to highlight the less visible, less luxurious forms of self care that are just as valuable.
Daily Acts of Living
A lot of self care is the opposite of glamorous. It’s brushing teeth, dealing with bills, and doing all kinds of hard stuff to maintain our health, homes, and general functioning. I love artist Hannah Daisy’s series on Boring Self Care because it recognizes the little ways we take care of ourselves, and celebrates what a big accomplishment completing them can be!
There are two strategies I love to use when the boring stuff gets hard. One is the concept of body doubling- there’s no reason we have to take care of ourselves alone, and human brains, especially neurodivergent ones, can gain a lot of motivation from being in the room with other folks accomplishing stuff. I love grabbing my wife to brush their teeth while I brush mine, or setting up a time with friends to complete work side by side.
I also enjoy the concept of a traffic light system, which can take self care out of an all-or-nothing mindset. This involves brainstorming ways to accomplish tasks on high-energy days (green light), days that are a bit tougher (yellow light), and days where things feel close to impossible (red light).
Incorporating movement into my day might look like going for a long walk in a park I love (green light), choosing stairs over elevators (yellow light), or kinda waving my arms around a little or dragging myself from the bed to the couch as I continue to play video games (red light). If showering is hard, consider dry shampoo or body wipes for red light days. If that still feels too big, consider rinsing your face or your mouth out with water. All self care is good self care; don’t feel like you can’t practice it if you can’t do the most complicated, idealized version of a task.
Nurturing Our Environments
Creating environments conducive to our wellbeing can also be a great way to care for ourselves long-term. We might want to spend time cleaning up our physical environment, decorating it with things that make us smile, or adjusting lighting and textures to make it more sensory-friendly. I firmly do not enjoy cleaning, but know that decreasing the chaos in my surrounding space can also help my mind feel a bit less cluttered.
We can also consider our emotional environment. Making sure I know what my boundaries are and communicating them with others can help ensure I’m spending my time in spaces that feel safe and doing activities that I find meaningful. Investing in my relationships helps me to feel connected and establishes support systems I can rely on. And now more than ever, I like to find ways to be involved in my communities, spending time with incredible people and promoting our collective wellbeing. Spending time out in the world doing stuff you care about can fight isolation and make you feel just a little bit more in control amidst our big, sometimes-scary universe.
Wishing you a restful and self-caring day from me and the NCCEC team!