Self-Care, On a Budget, For Everyone.
I’m kind of a perfectionist.
When I do something, I like to do it well. Really well. So in the category of “being sick,” the perfectionist in me really wanted to get an A+ from the universe. And that means being a pro at self-care.
“Self-care” has been a pretty trendy concept as of late, but it’s something a lot of people still struggle with. My mom is a perfect example who comes to mind–– she’s a workaholic who was raised in a time (and a family) where things like meditation and adult coloring books probably would’ve sounded ridiculous. She’s gotten a bit better about it as she’s gotten older (she has one of the aforementioned coloring books now!) but it’s still hard to get her to sit down and relax for the length of a Jane the Virgin episode without having her jump up to do laundry, send an email, or take a work call.
But self-care is hugely important–– it’s what keeps us running mentally. It’s what keeps us from having a mental breakdown in the grocery store. It’s what keeps us from snapping at our loved ones when we’ve had a long day. And if you have an inflammatory disease, it’s what helps to keep stress from making you physically ill.
That’s exactly why –– although self-care is of supreme importance for everyone –– it’s of even greater importance for the chronically ill. It’s super mentally draining to know how unpredictable your body can be. That’s why when some serious Crohn’s flares entered my life, I started meditating. I started doing yoga. I started writing down my feelings. I started taking long, super self-indulgent baths.
But “self-care” sometimes gets a bad rap as something only people with wealth or privilege have time or money for. That’s because so many things that are touted as “self-care” involve purchasing an expensive bath bomb or some face mask made of real gold. While expensive candles are part of some people’s self-care, it’s also possible to keep your self-care budget-friendly (if not free) and accessible to all.
So from my crash course in self-care, here are some things I recommend you #treatyoself to, whether you’re sick or just in need of some me time:
Read a book! If a book seems like too much, try a short story. Or an article. Or even like, a series of short tweets. (Just make sure the articles and tweets aren’t on topics that stress you out, like impending nuclear entanglements.)
Cost? Potentially free, because as Arthur once wisely told us, “Having fun isn’t hard if you’ve got a library card!”
Yoga. It’s not just for wealthy young moms anymore. (Fellow IBDers, I fully recommend this particular type of yoga-ing.)
Cost? Classes vary depending on where you go, but YouTube is full of some free (and actually great) in-home options.
Meditation! It sounds silly, and in the beginning, I felt a little silly doing it, but I find I actually feel so much better on days I can squeeze in 10 minutes of meditation –– even better when I can reliably fit in meditation for several days in a row. I've managed to work at least 5 minutes into every day of 2018 so far, and I'm a much better person for it.
Cost? Try the app Insight Timer for some quality (and FREE) guided meditations. They have a different option for every mood and every time commitment.
Journaling. I’m a writer, so I’m a bit biased, but writing down how you feel is a really easy and cheap form of catharsis.
Cost? Like, $2 for a notebook.
Coloring! Seriously. I know adult coloring books are ~crazy trendy~ at the moment, but sometimes things are wildly popular for a reason. And the reason is that they’re great. When I’m sick and fatigued I easily get anxious that I’m not being creative or productive –– coloring is a great way to create something without using a ton of brain power you don’t have.
Cost? I have a few coloring books, all of which cost around $12 each. As for your coloring tools, you can get really fancy (and expensive) with your markers and colored pencils, but I go the $3 Crayola route.
Take a bath. Seriously. I started taking Epsom salt baths to help my prednisone-induced joint pain, and I was immediately like, “why do we ever stop taking baths?!” It’s relaxing as hell. Make a playlist and light some candles and really treat yourself. I live in an apartment with a standard (small-ish), not-fancy bath tub, but I still make it work.
Cost? If you want to splurge, Lush bath bombs are expensive because they’re great –– but if you're on a tighter budget, I can get a huge bag of Epsom salt that will last for months for about $10 at the grocery store.
Watch your favorite show. For some reason, TV has this weird reputation as an activity of laziness–– boring people love to brag about how they “don’t have time” for tv or “don’t even own a tv.” But listen. TV is great. Make time. Watching your favorite show is a great way to get out of your own brain for a minute. Escapism is a great form of self-care. Current favorites include Lovesick, Stranger Things, and Big Mouth.
Cost? Free if, like me, you still use your mom’s Netflix account ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (But seriously, even if you don’t, Hulu is the best $9/month investment a sick kid can make.)
Did I forget anything? Drop your favorites in the comments.