Writers/Authors and self care
Being a writer of any sort of whether it is for comics, poetry, novels or short stories, we are under a lot of stress. Trying to build a brand, spread a platform, and while creating new and good content- it can be exhausting. Every day you are pushing more out onto social media hoping to grow your appearance and make better connections with people, sometimes it works out, other times, you end up at a dead end. Constantly posting, constantly focusing on the computer- to the point where you feel your eyes might bleed.
Self-care is something everyone should practice in everyday life. With society the way it is now, we are constantly tearing ourselves down, working on ourselves, and trying to make ourselves better then we were before. Until it isn't enough- we build and build, stress out until we crack and have to do it all over again. Self-care gives us a moment to just appreciate life, to appreciate ourselves and who we are as well as what we have accomplished.
When do you know you need self-care?
To me, self-care should be proactive, not reactive, so doing it often or throughout the week might make you less prone to have a breakdown, snap on someone, or grow so unmotivated that you do nothing for an entire day.
Some warning signs that you are in need of self-care include:
- Having trouble with sleep, whether it be sleeping through the night, or just falling asleep.
- No patience for anything, not even family or friends.
- Easily irritated.
- Crying unexpectedly
- stomach aches, cramps, troubles eating or going to the bathroom.
- Experiencing anxiety
- feeling overwhelmed to the point of ignoring all responsibilities.
These are just some signs of exhaustion that tell you, you are in need of some self-care. That is okay, having any or all of these symptoms is OKAY, and focusing on yourself for a moment isn't a bad thing. Someone has to focus on you once and a while, and it should be the person who knows you best- YOU.
In the moment kind of things;
You don't even have to lift your hands from the keyboard to do this one, but it can change your headspace dramatically if you just take a moment to breathe. In through your nose, pause, out through your mouth. I often imagine a beach, and my breaths are the movements of the water coming in and going out. I imagine my problems as trash in the water, depending on the size is how weighing it is on me. (There are a lot of car tires, don't ask me why.) I imagine them washing up on shore and there for releasing them from the fluid thoughts of my mind.
- Five sense grounding technique
If things are getting really overwhelming and you don't know what to do, use your five senses to ground yourself. Five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, one thing you can taste. At your desk, or wherever you are, note five things you see; your computer, a pencil, your pet, a book, anything you can see, point it out and say it aloud if you want. Then touch four things around you; whether it is a blanket, the arms of your chair, the necklace around your neck, ANYTHING. Things you hear can be your own breathing, the sound of the TV, of someone talking in the other room, or your dog barking. A smell can be fabric softener, perfume, coffee, tea, fresh cut grass from outside, just things you can catch in the moment. And lastly, something you can taste, if you have a drink, take a sip and a moment to really taste it. It brings you back to yourself and helps you calm down.
Pick a song you love and listen to it, get into the lyrics and sing along, it will take your mind off your stresses for a minute and help you re-center yourself.
- Shout it out
Yelling can help relieve stress- so if you are alone in the house or you go outside. Yell it out. "Every time I post something on social media no one likes it! My characters have to get from point a to point b and I have no idea how to get them there!" curse to the skies and get all that energy out! It will give you relief to say it out loud and release all that pent up irritation.
- Two Negatives and Two positives
Point out two negatives you keep focusing on at the moment, and then either two ways to fix it or two positives in the situation. You have only slept four hours and you don't have time to post on social media today before work. That's okay though because you need the money from working, and you can post on social media during your break. Sometimes forcing yourself to give the positives helps you put your worries into perspective.
Set aside time for yourself;
- Light a candle or incense
A smell can link us to good emotions and good memories, so use this to transport yourself to a better mood. Light your favorite candle, or maybe some incense if you have some. Take some time and let the smell envelope you. If you don't have candles or anything of that nature, make yourself a cup of tea or coffee and hold it within your hands, taking deep breaths in of the smell, sometimes that alone can calm me on chaotic days.
- Write down your struggles
Writing in a journal is something that many people do to alleviate stress and help reorganize their thoughts. If you aren't really a journal person that is okay, I personally would love to journal, but I am VERY inconsistent. haha Pull out a piece of paper and write down all the things that are troubling you; your emotions, people that have made you made, stressors on your everyday life, anything you want. Then take it and throw it away, rip it into a million pieces and scatter it to the wind, burn it (safely), whatever you need to to help let it go. Somethings you can't control, but you can choose what controls you.
- Reward yourself for your tasks
Sometimes the things we need to build our writer's platform can be draining, but rewards can make things worth it. Edit this next chapter and you can take a nap, or hang out on Instagram for ten minutes and we can go watch another episode of Lucifer. Giving yourself little victories makes the hard things more bearable, and less like a mountain of impossibility.
- Make a playlist
Make a playlist of all the songs that make you smile, and make you wanna dance- then listen to it. Drive around in your car, dance in your living room, whatever makes you happy, but let yourself live for an s little while. Don't think, don't try to figure things out, just smile and have a blast. Forget about your worries, because you deserve it.
It sounds harder then you think, but it's not just sitting in silence humming; it's really realizing yourself. You can do it to music, or to a mantra on youtube, and if it's hard for you to sit still, set a timer for 5 minutes and just close your eyes. Let your body rest while you drift, and when you come back, you'll feel a little more level headed.
Make a day of it;
- Change your surroundings
Sometimes just looking at my desk I get overwhelmed, so it's time to change my surroundings. You don't have to go somewhere adventurous or crazy, you can simply go to a friend. Visit a coffee shop, go on a walk around the block, change what your looking at and maybe it will change your mindset. Seeing the outdoors may make you feel a little less cramped up and stressed. Speaking with a friend may help put things into perspective- stepping out of your door can do a world of wonders.
- Do the things you've been putting off
Sometimes self-care isn't easy, like tackling the things you've been ignoring for eons. Maybe you haven't wanted to make yourself a website, but you know it would help, you need to do it. Catching up on ALL you query letters and emails that you don't even look at- look at them. Declutter it and after you will feel like you've conquered the impossible.
- Something you love
We often tell ourselves that we don't deserve things because we don't feel we've worked for them. We keep our heads down and we focus so hard we forget that life isn't just about work, it's about cherishing every day we are alive. Don't forget that. Take time to go grab your favorite cup of tea from your favorite coffee shop and take a walk. Buy that tee shirt that you have been eyeing FOREVER. Go on a date, take a night to be with friends. Let yourself have something you love because you deserve it. You deserve to be happy.
- Do something kind
Sometimes giving back makes us feel better about ourselves and all our stresses in life. Whether you do this in real life or on social media, just be kind and do something or others that don't involve yourself. Hold open a door, help someone with their bags, tell someone 'good morning.' It can change people's days SO much, if this has happened to you, you know the feeling. Some stranger said hello and smiled, it made you feel good. What I like to do is go through Twitter and look for posts from strangers about achievements they have made in their lives. I will post super obnoxious congratulations and GIFs and everything. Sometimes it feels good to have some care, to have some happy about something you did- even if you don't know them. Share the love.
- Take a break from social media
It will be there when you get back, so taking a day without it won't kill you. I do this sometimes on my days off work, I won't go on social media and I'll just give the day to myself. We all need this sometimes. Taking a day isn't going to kill everything you've created so far, believe me. Your followers should know that you need time for yourself.
- Read a book
Don't worry about reviewing it, or how it's written, or the author, JUST READ IT. Enjoy a book, transport yourself to a different world, be a different person and have an adventure. This is why we became writers in the first place, books take us to a place of wonders and make us feel special. get back to that feeling and just let yourself bask in it. It might help you reevaluate your problems and help bring you back to why you started in the first place.
- Write something fun, something easy
If your novel or poetry is stressing you out, step away from it and write something else. Pick a random writing prompt from online and go for it; let yourself be silly and enjoy the act of writing rather than focusing on the content so much.
- Turn off all electronics
There will always be something we compare ourselves to on social media, whether it be someone with more followers, more books published, more success- that can be toxic. Step away from it and leave it in the other room. Take a nap, draw, paint, cook your favorite food, but don' focus on your electronics. Put it away and bring yourself first- you need to put yourself first. You need to take care of you because no one else will. Taking care of yourself doesn't have to involve your phone or TV.
- Go to the book store
A book store is a beautiful place, full of millions of adventures and experiences all waiting for you. Walk in and let yourself be surrounded by the possibilities, take in time to sit on the floor between aisles and read some of a book. If you don't have the money, that's okay! Just look around, feel the covers, turn the pages, let yourself enjoy it.
We often forget ourselves when trying to achieve our dreams. We forget that life isn't just about the goal, but the journey- it's cliche, but think about it. Our ENTIRE lives is a journey to a goal, which takes more time. The ending or the path that took us there?
You will get there one day and look back and realize you never took a moment to enjoy being a writer. Enjoy writing, as well as the world around you. Sometimes experiencing life makes you a better writer, and being good with yourself as far as self-care can make you a better writer as well.
I hope this helps you in some way or at least reminds you that you need time for yourself. If you ever want to talk I'm always here.
*Title photo by Sarah Gualtieri