I write this blog because I am a busy freelancer. I am a busy freelance writer because I am also a medical student, a mother, a partner, and a mistress of the art of procrastinating. Unfortunately, this also means I slip into the habit of not engaging in self-care activities. And when that happens, I feel sort of crappy.
If you’re here, it might be because you too are ridiculously busy. Your reasons might be different to mine, exactly the same, or somewhere in between. Whatever your reason for needing rapid self-care activities, I want to enlighten you to the ways you can engage in them without compromising your other responsibilities.
One of my favorite self-care activities: reading a book
I refuse to believe that you don’t have at least 15 minutes a day to reading a book. It doesn’t have to be one that sparks a period of existentialism. Or even one that’s revered worldwide. Anything that sparks joy and interest in your heart will do.
Right now, I am reading Happy: Finding Joy and Letting go of Perfect by Fearne Cotton. As a radio presenter who is pretty famous here in the UK, I had no idea she had her own struggles with anxiety. The most refreshing element of her book is that it doesn’t come from an entirely medical perspective and it is very personal.
However, examples of other books I have read recently include:
- Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine which is so funny, I devoured it in three days
- The Chimp Paradox which is a slightly heavier read that’ll help you work towards achieving happiness
- The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fck which really will help you not care about the smaller things
Reading isn’t just about enjoyment or finding other self-care activities you can incorporate into your life. It broadens your perspective, heightens your vocabulary, and opens you to new ideas. Set a daily timer, pick up your perfect book, and switch off your phone.
Essential self-care activities that are effective even when brief: meditating, yoga, and freewriting
I have blabbered about meditating and yoga as self-care activities a lot in the past. So, I won’t labor the point. Instead, just read the post I linked to and consider whether they’re worth donating a small donation from that finite resource that is the time you have in each day.
What I want to focus on here is this: freewriting. Or, if you’re not into freewriting, journalling. Again, the aim is to set a timer for 15 minutes and write about your feelings.
Don’t approach the activity as though it is an essay. Instead, write about how you feel, what caused your feelings, how you’re trying to resolve it, whether you feel better yesterday than you did today and vice-versa. You can do this whether you’re in a happy state of mind or not. Our emotions fluctuate, and I believe being able to get them down on paper is an excellent form of therapy.
According to the University of Rochester, writing a journal can:
- Reduce anxiety
- Lower stress
- Help you manage depression
And, it’s one of the few self-care activities that is truly free. All you need is your journal, Google docs, OneNote, or whatever.
Switching off from social media
To a degree, I love how much we can rely on social media. In a former life, I worked as cabin crew/a flight attendant (pick the name based on whatever country you live in) and social media has helped me stay in touch with people from around the world.
Social media also helps me promote my business. I get new ideas for my business. I follow medical revision apps that help me tell the difference between various ECG/EKG patterns. It is, in many ways, excellent.
At the same time, social media is highly corrosive. At the tender age of 17, when many kids’ hormones are causing them to fluctuate in their moods, my sister and her mates would post statuses such as “Rate me out of 10 and I’ll do the same for you.” Erm, as if having to look at photoshopped images isn’t enough! Now we’re bringing peers into it.
As I said, I won’t decry social media entirely. However, one of the kindest self-care activities you can briefly try is to switch off from it. In fact, taking such an approach gives you a chance to become more productive. I and my partner use an app called Forest. It tells us to set a timer and during that time a tree will grow. If we disrupt it, for whatever reason, the tree dies. Seriously, it works wonders.
Date night and spending time with others
If you are in a relationship, never underestimate the importance of date night. Honestly, I get so tetchy when something impedes on our date night activities and it’s not an emergency. We’re both such busy individuals, I cherish the chance for us to just be together and chatting.
If you’re not in a relationship, schedule a date night with someone else. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t mean literal serial dating here. Start seeing your friends and family more often. You don’t have to go out for food, just visit someone and have a cup of tea/coffee/glass of wine.
Social isolation is a killer, which makes seeing other people one of those self-care activities you must not avoid. If you’re struggling to figure out where socializing will fit into your hectic schedule, check out my range of printables and see if they’re of any use.