self keeping: simple things that help me

disclaimer: no matter how adorable the organizational system (or the tumblr girl you got it from) is, your life still won't be perfect. even better, it'll be a life. full of mess and chaos and late mornings running out the door. there will be moments of contentment and moments of striving. in that spirit, I will try to share the simple basics.

some of the stuff I struggle most with is the basics: staying clean, fed, hydrated, rested, and present. I'm always looking for "hacks" that can bypass the bad habits in my brain. or looking up tips for being more [productive, actualized, present, buzzword, buzzword...] and inevitably disregarding all but one or two. this is the stuff that works for me:

taking care of my body

micellar water – I'm not great at regularly washing my face, so micellar water was a game-changer for me. it feels just like water, removes makeup, and doesn't have to be rinsed off. it saves me from going to bed with my eyeshadow still on.

moisturizing – this might be the most sterotypical "self-care" thing I do. people get me bath & body stuff for christmas every year, which is nice because I'm unlikely to buy that stuff for myself. I keep hand lotion in my desk at work and on my bedside table at home. I like to use a little body butter after a shower, when I've got the spoons for that step. I do it because it makes me feels nice and it requires me to pay attention to my body. to be gentle toward myself.

drinking hot water – some folks in my office would do this, just pour themselves a mug of hot water from the kettle. I tried it, and found it kept me warm in the winter and saved me from indulging in too many cups of tea. (I do love a nice mug of strong black tea with milk & sugar, but the sugar and caffeine add up.) an easy way to get myself drinking more water!

taking care of my space

making my bed – do you know why I make my bed? it's because I spend a lot of time in my room. I like to sit on the bed while watching videos on my laptop. I like to use it to fold laundry on or to rest things on while I vacuum. it doesn't have to be perfect; just pull the sheets and comforter up so it looks reasonably neat. honestly, it makes my room feel tidier. so I make time to make my bed.

taking care of my mind

making dark thoughts funny – okay, here's a thing my brain does: when I'm having a bad day, for whatever reason, the voice in my head goes, "what do we want? death." it's not a serious thought, but I'm uncomfortable with that as my default. you know what helped? this animation of the game grumps playing super troll island. the game is an atrocity. steph's animation captures the boys' descent into madness beautifully. at 0:57, danny says, "that being said, I'm cool with death now. playing this game...made me happy to die." so now, whenever I think about wanting to die, I remember danny, and super troll island.

it's like in harry potter and the prisoner of askaban, when they're facing boggarts (which take the form of your worst fear) and the students have to defeat them with the riddikulus charm and the power of laughter.

only you know what makes you laugh, but I encourage you to find connections between your dark thoughts and something funny. put snape in a dress and vulture hat. remember that there are things worse than death (i.e. super troll island). and don't let your dark thoughts be your defaut ones.

task management

doing stuff badly – my big flaw: avoidance. when I am unsure or scared, I avoid the thing. to combat this, I give myself permission to do things badly. get 50% on the test. send the email without checking it 4 times for typos. eat the overly-sugary snack bar instead of not eating. sometimes this is the best I can do, and at least it keeps my moving through the world. what's worse is being stuck.

lists lists lists – I need lists. they are my lifeline. whether its for grocery shopping or emailing people back, I like to make lists with checkboxes. and I'll break a task down into really tiny pieces just so I get to tick more boxes as I go.

one page at a time – I don't think my attention span has gotten worse; I do think there are more demands on my attention than there once were. I struggle with this when I'm reading or writing—I start to think of all the other things I could be doing. so I set a goal for myself. for writing: one page. for a book: either one scene, one chapter, or 5 pages; whichever feels manageable. for meditation, I start at 5 minutes. part of the reason this works is that it reminds me why these things are worth the time. and then it gets easier to set aside time for them.

mindful technology

customize the heck outta your phone – back in 2017, I did an eight-week MBSR course. it helped me to be more aware. what does that mean? well, for instance, I started to notice this tiny blip of anxiety whenever I picked up my phone or opened my laptop. now, I'm not here to recommend a social media detox or that you shut your phone up in a drawer. as a communications professional, it's literally my job to be online all the time. but I think there are little things you can do to make your phone friendlier.

  1. use a ringtone you actually like. mine is the grey's anatomy theme. (previous fave ring tones included "the north strand" from the once broadway cast recording and "serious profession" by omar lye-fook, which is the theme song from chef! with lenny henry.)
  2. set custom text-tones! (and/or ringtones!) knowing who is texting me or what app is making that notification sound helps a bunch. plus, if you're waiting to hear back from someone special, it might save your heart from bursting out of your chest when your mom texts you a picture of the cat sleeping in a weird place.
  3. choose filters for night or less distracting browsing. of my iphone's accessibility features, I mostly use the filters: low light for night browsing in bed, grayscale for less addictive social media browsing.

songs that get me back on track

"matches" by sifu hotman (guante x deM atlaS x rube)

I owe many thanks to astrid, who tweeted about this song years ago and introduced me to it. when I need to pick myself up, this is the song I turn to. the lyrics are posted on my bedroom wall.

"in my mind" by amanda palmer

I probably read amanda's blog more than I listen to her music, but when I love a song, I really love it.

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