I have a tough time with self-care. It’s such a buzzy buzzword. Magazines and websites and the beauty industry have sculpted self-care into this pressurized, judgmental hawk that looks like Simon Cowell. Are you doing enough to be enough, ladies? Are you taking care of your skin? Are you getting enough sleep? DO YOU DRINK ENOUGH WATER?!?
It’s time for a pivot.
I want to embrace the weird delightfulness of taking care of ourselves; the things that make me happy in their oddest ways.
Instead, I want to embrace the weird delightfulness of taking care of ourselves; the things that make me happy in their oddest ways. Perhaps it’s by softly blessing ourselves to do absolutely nothing or eating a really weird comfort food (Writer’s Note: Sorry folks, but for me it’s macaroni with a lot of milk).
Let’s dig in.
Sometimes you have to tap into your past, specifically when you had no idea what self-care even was. For me, that’s sixteen years old, rollerblading with my best girlfriends at midnight to the likings of: Ashlee Simpson, DHT, Hilary Duff (specific request for “Come Clean”), and Fefe Dobson.
For me: Celine Dion “Let’s Talk About Love” and Hanson “Middle of Nowhere.”
Did you know? You can buy satisfying marker-sized, colorful strips of clay at Michaels and make tiny food/people and BAKE THEM so they are these perfect tiny objects you can cherish. Nothing makes me feel more in control of my life. Please trust me when I tell you this is oddly therapeutic.
I realize this is a little annoying, but if something isn’t making me feel better, self-care starts with the cheese troff at Whole Foods and ends with Culver’s.
I learned this one from Brené Brown. If you’re enjoying something you don’t think you deserve to enjoy (a T.V. binge session, a cookie, countless hours on TikTok) or if you’re giving yourself grace to leave a party early or not go at all, write a figurative permission slip for yourself. Or, you know what? Write it down on paper and sign it.
I learned this one from my mother. She picks up rocks on her walks. She paints them with the grandkids. She sets them carefully on her kitchen sink. She washes them. She gives them away. Rocks, oddly enough, have a very therapeutic quality. As humans, we’re gatherers. Sometimes, the mundane act of sifting through nature helps.
For some odd reason, I get deeply attached to underwear? I keep pairs with holes in them just because they gave me ten good years of not squeezing my hips. However, cleaning out those drawers and getting rid of anything you haven’t worn for a few months/years feels low-key electric.
I was really mad about something and did this recently and it truly cleansed my emotional palate. Perhaps it was something about repositioning myself in an odd space or how the acoustics sounded when I yelled “F*CK” that did it?
Um, I can’t stress this enough. Some of my favorites: bricklaying, makeup tutorials (I’m specifically prone to hair brushing?), and horse grooming.
The other afternoon, feeling stressed, I went to Target and Home Depot. It’s not something I’m proud of, but moseying through the model kitchens and light section of Home Depot made me strangely calm. Highly recommended.
For me, it’s been Excel tutorials about VLOOKUP and index match. I’ve always found learning to be exquisitely soothing (that’s why I loved sitting in class at college and just listening). And it’s really lovely to feel productive while, essentially, not moving from your chair.
I recently wrote an article about getting ahead by helping others first. Give others what you need. If you are craving a midday espresso as a form of self-care, offer it to a good friend too.
Breathing techniques are important. However, self-care is also about what we’re smelling. Research suggests that citrus scents help slash stress and anxiety. I keep a “Mental Clarity” essential oil at my desk that I take a deep breath of every so often and while it may initially seem odd, it helps me a lot.
I make a point to do this every afternoon. Sometimes, I wear flip-flops or slip-ons so I don’t walk fast or feel pressured to make the walk intense. This helps me wander. This helps my brain somehow detach itself and float in the breeze. I look at flowers, trees, sometimes only around the block. And it’s truly bliss. No pressure, baby. Just strolls.
Because who stinkin’ cares if it’s not your birthday! Basically, buy yourself anything that seems completely silly (e.g., cake, balloons, flowers, a thank you card, a Valentine). A sneaky, timely trick here is to go to the back of a Target and buy yourself something from whatever holiday section is out at the time. Even if it’s “Back-to-school” season. Buy yourself a Lisa Frank notebook!
Spring is the foraging season. Wander a field and pick flowers and grass and make your own floral arrangement. Anything you can do, in my opinion, to access your inner Little House on the Prairie is weird and delightful self-care. I’m not above churning butter if that was easily accessible either.
Take a really nice ballpoint pen and practice writing your name in cursive. Or, doodle on a blank sheet of paper. Draw those bubble S’s all the millennials make memes about. Mindless writing is sometimes the best kind.
It’s weird. And it works.
Do you have any weird self-care rituals? Share them below!
Brittany Chaffee is an avid storyteller, professional empath, and author. On the daily, she gets paid to strategize and create content for brands. Off work hours, it’s all about a well-lit place, warm bread, and good company. She lives in St.Paul with her baby brother cats, Rami and Monkey. Follow her on Instagram, read more about her latest book, Borderline, and (most importantly) go hug your mother.
BY Brittany Chaffee - May 9, 2021
Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.