3 Effortless Things You Can Do For Self-Care At Home Right Now for Free

Now that much of the United States appears to be committed to staying at home to combat the spread of the Coronavirus, most of us are finding ourselves anxious, bored, or somewhere in between.

I’m convinced this is all happening for us, rather than to us. This is a time to identify the things that matter to us and let go of the things that don’t.


As for me, I was struggling before we were asked to stay at home. I was making my life endlessly complicated with new commitments and uber-long todo lists. Taking time for self-care was never a priority. However, necessity–and a little creativity–have made this experience pretty enjoyable.

Adding to the stress is the growing number of people losing their jobs, seeing their hours cut, or closing their business due to stay-at-home orders. Self-care activities often cost extra money. You may not be comfortable spending right now: gym memberships, makeup, skincare, and who knows what else that bills itself as essential to your self-care routine.

If you’re looking for something to do for yourself without spending extra money, you’ve come to the right place.

1. Meditate

Meditation and mindfulness are fantastic and easy ways to practice self-care. The best part is, there’s no “wrong” way to meditate if you are focused on experiencing the moment as it is. Frequently, I hear people criticize themselves for “thinking too much” and “not being able to meditate.” However, that’s not how it needs to be. It really can be as easy as finding a quiet place, breathing in and out, and focusing listening to whatever you hear. I’ve found that even when my husband is playing video games and yelling (as annoying as it is), I can sit and accept his yelling as part of my experience: one of the essential points of mindfulness.

If you need a little guidance, the Calm app has free guided meditations.

2. Read

Yes, read. But don’t spend too much time finding the right thing to read. Chances are, you can find interesting material at your fingertips. Medium.com is a great website to visit with exciting articles by independent writers. There is a paywall for some pieces (as the membership helps writers get paid), but there are tons of free-to-read articles on the page, too.
Further, you can download digital books from your local library if they participate. Most libraries include instructions on how to set that up on your smartphone so you can find a book that suits you and dig in. 

I read on a Kindle, but you can download the Kindle app on the device you’re reading this on for free.

 

3. Write

Now is not the time to find the perfect journal or writing pen. Again, we’re being challenged on determining our priorities.
Writing is one of the most cathartic things you can do. All you need is a writing pen and a paper surface. That means you can write on the back of an old bill, in a notepad, or even an envelope.
Where you write doesn’t matter–the act of writing down your thoughts, whatever they are, can change your mood.

There you have it—three no-brainer activities for self-care.

How are you taking care of yourself while staying at home? Tell me in the comments below!

I Survived My First Experience with Writing Criticism

Don’t go to Reddit for validation.

Photo by Josep Castells on Unsplash

 

 

I am not a writer. At least, I didn’t think I was. Then I did. Then I didn’t again.

Here’s what happened:

Initial Success and Unrealistic Expectations

I have been writing for one week. I’ve been thinking about writing and reading about writing now for years. I’ve been talking about it for a little less than that. And I finally, finally walked through my fear of vulnerability and after having my husband (a proven writer) proofread my work, I published my first article on Medium one week ago.

The first one did not get curated. As it turns out, no matter how much information I’d consumed about “How To Write a Great Medium Article” and “11 Things To Do In Every Medium Article,” asking for claps is not cool.

So, I tried again. That one did get distributed.

And I felt the sweet success of unrealistic expectations and external validation. I started fantasizing about leaving my day job and tra-la-la-ing through a field of abounding, never-ending streams of freelance work and waking up at 8:00 AM.

Not really. Kind of. That’s not the point.

For the first time in a long time, I felt purpose. I wrote words and people — real, breathing people — read them. And clapped for them! Without my asking!

 “Just keep writing,” They said. “Even when it’s hard!” They said.

I tried again. I didn’t even ask my husband to proofread it! I got bolder.

I publicized it. I wanted everyone to see it.

Photo by Luca Upper on Unsplash

“Everyone” Is Not a Target Audience

I posted the article to the r/dnd Subreddit, a Subreddit for Dungeons & Dragons enthusiasts. Makes sense, right? Now I was tra-la-la-ing through a field of digital high-fives and viral social media shares.

Wrong. I was immediately criticized. The nature of the criticism here isn’t the point.

The point is that I felt, within minutes, the side of writing that isn’t talked about as much as the “13 Ways To Quit Your Day Job and Be a Freelancer.”

I felt hot, red, and sick. I felt Impostor Syndrome.

What I felt was shame.

Nearly a #DecadeChallenge ago, Author and Researcher Brené Brown shared her definition of shame: “the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging — something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection.”

And ultimately, that’s what I felt. In the safe space of Medium, I started to feel worthy of belonging. My voice belonged somewhere.

On r/DnD, I learned my voice did not belong. And it hurt.

Photo by JD Mason on Unsplash

Hurting Mindfully

Tamara Levitt, Head of Mindfulness for the Calm app, often tells me in the Daily Calm meditation that I should, essentially, breathe into my pain. She asserts that by acknowledging my pain (or fidgeting or thinking), I’ll start to find it easier to let go of it.

So that’s what I did.

I allowed myself to feel the hurt of criticism.

I acknowledged my pain. I acknowledged that it hurts when someone doesn’t love my writing. And I acknowledged that I misunderstand a lack of warm reception of my work as a message that my words aren’t worthy of being read.

Photo by Kaitlyn Baker on Unsplash

8 Upvotes, 11 Reads, and 1 Very Important Share

I recognize this all sounds a little dramatic for something that was seen by a smaller percentage than the followers I received for the article.

24 hours later, I recognize that this experience wasn’t that big of a deal. I’ve seen much, much worse in the realm of writing criticism. I wasn’t cyberbullied, I wasn’t attacked, I wasn’t Swatted. The damage was approximately 13 fairly reasonable comments on a buried Subreddit post from people I’ll never meet.

More importantly, the people that read the article weren’t my target audience. I didn’t write it for them. I wrote it for professionals who think people who play D&D are weird. I wrote it for mothers who are worried that their kids playing D&D aren’t socializing enough. I wrote it for the mother of a young friend I’ve watched grow up simply as a result of playing Dungeons & Dragons and learning to think critically in a safe space.

So, I learned a few things:

  1. “Everyone” isn’t going to like your stuff.
  2. “Everyone” doesn’t need to read your stuff.
  3. “Everyone” doesn’t dictate my self-worth.

And that’s okay.

Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

24 Hours of Self-Doubt

I’ve come full circle in this dramatic brush with criticism. I decided that, even though I’d decided I was a writer, I wasn’t anymore. And then, I decided that what feels like a fair-weather love affair with writing is perfect exactly how it is. I am allowed to internalize the joy, pain, and everything in between that comes with this craft because it is my craft.

It is my voice and my impact. And if I’m getting criticism, that means I’m taking a stand.

My friend’s mom saw the article and shared it on Facebook. That was enough to open a new, blank draft.

Oh, and I didn’t ask my husband to proofread this article. I didn’t need him to.