To some people, it really looks like our lives are self-care 24/7. We don’t have midnight feedings, no one jumps into our bed at 6am on a Saturday full of excitement for the day ahead, no kids to drive to practice or cook an early dinner for. It certainly gives the illusion that our life is all sleeping in & bubble baths.
And maybe it is! You chose that life, and I’m proud of you! But that doesn’t mean your life isn’t fucking exhausting. It’s life, your boss is a dick, your partner is pissing you off, traffic sucks, plus the big life things like depression and disease and the horror that’s always in the media and the fact that your parents will die, and your friends will die, and so will you, and it’s all too fucking much to handle all of the fucking time.
I mean, maybe that’s not how you feel but it’s definitely how I feel sometimes. Or even more than sometimes.
Regardless of the life you’re living compared to the life other people have chosen, we all feel the same stress. I don’t know anyone who isn’t tired right down to their soul. We all need some self-care right now.
In my quest to be more of a perfect ideal woman, like the internet has told me I should be, I found that a LOT of the self-care tips floating around out there are not super helpful to a woman who has chosen the childfree life.
Take a bath? Like every night that I lie awake thinking about the latest mass murder?
Get a babysitter & go have a spa day? Do they babysit my job or what? How does that work?
There needs to be a different vision of self-care that’s less mommy-centric. Here are some of the things that help me detach my mind from the things that cloud it.
Go walk up a mountain or a big hill or into a valley or on a flat ass prairie if that’s where you are. Go walk downtown, it’s Urban Hiking, it totally counts. Join a hiking group, Women Who Hike is a great way to not be alone in the woods with bears and make some friends at the same time. It’s also a great way to get motivated to get up & actually do it. Committing to a time & place that a bunch of people will be waiting for you to go do something that’s kind of a solitary activity, but together as a group, is the best way to actually fucking do it. Well, aside from that group coming to your house & forcibly dragging your ass outside. But that’s got some legality issues.
Cliche as hell, but you can go buy a cheap beginner watercolour set from the craft store & start for little initial investment. Watch some tutorial videos & just go through the physical act of trying them. Do it just to humour me, if anything. Because even if it’s stupid, even if you hate it, guess what? You stopped thinking about other shit for like 20 minutes. Even if you have zero interest in BEING a painter or making art, this will take your mind off of the things that are dragging it down. That’s going to help you so much, and you will feel better for it. Also, what if you are an undiscovered art genius? Any one of us might be.
I know you saw this one coming.
“Oh, look at Miss Writer, trying to tell everyone that writing helps cure their crippling depression!”
Yeah, I am. But I’m not about to claim that it’ll cure you. It’s really hard to get past the part where your words all feel SO STUPID. I’ve had many hard covered, beautiful notebooks in my life that sat empty until I decided to just donate them because they had no purpose in my life. What I didn’t realise is that even if some of my words are stupid, some of them aren’t. Some of the stupid words aren’t so stupid to other people. But some of them really are just stupid.
What helps a lot is remembering that they’re the same words, in different combinations, and you’re just trying to get them sorted into the right order to release whatever is blocking your flow of energy or emotion.
My personal trick for this one is to read something old. Really old. It helps me to get out of my head to remember that times were shitty long before this shitty time. I’m not the first person this century to feel like things are hopeless, that love is fleeting, or that everyone is doomed forever.
Make reading an appointment with yourself. It’s really hard to find time to disconnect & concentrate. This is where reading a physical book helps a lot, there are no apps in the background to pop up a notification. My favourite source for books lately is Persephone Books, who publish the most beautiful forgotten books, primarily by women authors.
Honestly, it’s fun to do some punching & kicking when life is getting me down. Secondarily, it’s probably a good idea to learn how to do a punch. In an era where we all grew up watching for strangers lurking in the bushes, avoiding anyone who looks sketchy, and the media telling us that everyone is a rapist… it feels good to know that I have some self-defence skills.
This isn’t the BEST one, it’s not environmentally or financially friendly to be just burning fuel because your brain is running non-stop. But oh man does it help. My favourite road trip to do when I’m depleted of mental energy is to go to a town somewhere within a 1–2 hour drive of where I am, usually alone. I prefer towns I haven’t been to, but those run out quickly. Get a hotel room, get a 6 pack, a book & some bubble bath. Hole up in the room & go to sleep early. Obviously, this is not the cheap way to do self-care, and not possible for everyone. There’s a trick I use to afford it. In a separate bank account, or a jar, I throw a couple dollars in when I can. This is the Road Trip Fund. The mental reset I get from this is well worth the skipped mocha or latte a couple times a week.
I know that you’re just as tired as other people, even though they say things like “You don’t know tired until you have kids”
As a childfree woman, you have many stresses in your life & different demands on your time than women who have children. We are all tired, all the time, and that’s the plague of our era. The onslaught of bad news, decreased funds, extra responsibilities and the weight of life itself is enough to crush us.
Try something different, whether it sticks or not, it helped you clear your mind for a time.
The act of doing something in the name of self-care is self-care in itself, and you deserve it.