This season of my life has me heading into the Dissertation Proposal stage of my PhD program. I have... 5ish academic publications I'm working on (in various stages). So things at work have been... busy.
I've also been trying to be around and spend more time with my family and friends. (And boyfriend, because literally one month after writing this, I started talking to a very cool boy. And, actually, we did meet online and my description of myself did include that I was a Christian feminist and into science. So, for those of you who shared my concerns, take heart and take hope and don't shrink.)
I've also had a TON of ideas for Mary&Marie. But the ideas have been bigger, which makes them a bit intimidating. It will take some work (and money) to expand in the ways I want to expand. And the blog-post ideas have been less-developed, with no time to work them out. I was beginning to worry that I've said all I came to say. That I had nothing left.
And can we talk for a minute about how tiring it is to write controversial things, to write passionately about social-justice, to even think consistently about social justice?
So, while obviously not an exhaustive self-care list, here are some things I've been doing when I haven't been writing. And some things I've been doing to get myself back to writing.
1. Sleep. Sleep, sleep, sleep. I (try to) go to sleep when I'm tired. As someone with autoimmune issues (RA) and chronic pain, this is essential. But it's also important for recovering from exerting mental energy-- which is basically what I do here, and at work.
2. Little luxuries. For me, this includes things like: remembering to put lotion on. Taking a minute to pull out a different pair of earrings or shade of lipstick (instead of wearing the same one(s) I've worn all week because I haven't put them away yet, so they're more accessible). Wearing comfy socks or a favorite t-shirt. What makes you feel luxurious? What's a simple pick-me-up you can incorporate into your daily or weekly routine?
3. Recreation. Sleep isn't the only important thing. Rest and enjoyment are up there! I read for enjoyment, articles as well as books. I have a few blogs I follow pretty regularly (check them out here!). I sit outside when it's warm enough. I talk to friends and do things to nurture my relationships. I cook (for enjoyment) when I have the energy and I get the urge-- I love trying new recipes. I snuggle up and watch a movie (which, if left to my own devices, I won't often do, even though I love it!).
4. Unplug. I have really amazing Facebook friends. But they're diverse, with a wide variety of interests, convictions, and political views. There are days when it's noon and I have seen one too many (things I would deem) hateful things on Facebook already. Some days, a conversation may be appropriate. Some days, I shut it off and I try not to go back on. I'm one person and constantly engaging with the problems of the world is painful and exhausting. Taking a break allows me to be stronger to tackle the problems again tomorrow.
5. Listen to your body. For years, I've read articles on morning routines and bedtime routines and longed for just the right one that would make me function my best, chronic pain and all, so I can be at my peak and be super productive all the time. What I've realized more recently is, for me at least, there's no one fix. What I've learned instead is to listen to what I need, not what I want to need or think I should need.
I may want to read a book, but I may be too exhausted and need to sleep. I may want to stay on Facebook, but if it's upsetting me, getting offline and losing myself in a show might be the better option. I may love reading, but maybe I need to leave the tab with the social-justice article open to read when I'm feeling stronger. Many things bring me joy. Balance is learning which one is right at the right time, and making sure that that joy and rest is a part of my life even in the busy seasons.
6. Keep the good ideas. Resting doesn't mean you stop getting good ideas. In fact, you may find you get more of them! A fellow grad student suggested Google Keep to me, and I've been using it ever since. It's a great app and also includes the ability to make lists, include pictures, set reminders, etc. And you can color-code things for easy accessibility. I have different colors for the two labs I work in, personal things, and Mary&Marie ideas. And if you're glued to your smartphone like I am, you can always jot a note down wherever you are (well, almost. I'm still trying to find a solution for my shower/car ideas). And if you use Google, it syncs wherever you're using the app.
Do you have any favorite self-care routines? Are any specific to the work of social-justice? What restores you? What about good ideas? Any tricks to keep them from getting lost?