I had a call from my friend about the lack of self care in my life (see that post here) and I started looking for self care ideas that work for us wheelies and spoonies...There weren't that many! Many I found focused on physical health and fitness, or included lots of outdoors things, which if like me, you can't get out and about independently right now, become pretty difficult! So I've put together a list with a couple of outdoor things, plenty of from bed things and lots of fun things! I hope it helps!
Emotional Self Care
This is what a lot of self care is about. Making sure you’re able to do things to keep you feeling good.
1. If you don't feel good about your body, at least feel good about the clothes you're wearing - no one should have to wear clothes which are uncomfortable and don’t display your personality. I have had to change my wardrobe dramatically, but with some careful tinkering and choice purchases, everyone can look good!
2. Share your emotions with others - It's hard to talk about how you feel with your nearest and dearest sometimes. But keeping them in the dark about how you feel all the time does not help you or them. Learning to express our emotions in a constructive way isn’t a task achieved overnight but it's something almost all of us could do with brushing up on. If you’re finding yourself in crisis without anyone to talk to, try a helpline such as the Samaritans.
3. Make a list of favourites - favourite food, songs, places, etc. The lists could be endless, but they’re a good thing to look back on when you’re feeling low
4. Speak out - If you feel something isn’t right, in your personal life or in wider society, make your voice heard! Write complaints, start petitions, small changes can start off larger movements.
5. What makes you laugh - another list, but being reminded of things that make you laugh is always a good thing. Scientific studies have shown laughter is good for you, if not always the best medicine, definitely one of them!
6.Watch a feel good film - My go to feel good film is You’ve Got Mail, what are yours? Heres a link to try amazon prime for free for 30 days - plenty of films to get you in the feels!
7. Make a list of realistic non-smarmy affirmations - I’m not really a fan of affirmations, but when i find one that actually fits (I like over the top ones) like today I’m a freaking unicorn they’re helpful just to push me through the really hard times.
8. Use pinterest to create an inspiration/feel good board - Pinterest is a great tool for finding beautiful things and motivational pictures.
9. Use essential oils - I love aromatherapy, but any good scent can be a pick me up! Again, pinterest is great for finding ideas for blends to make.
10. Write yourself a love letter - Might sound like a cringey thing to do, and difficult thing to do when you feel really down, but a really good pick me up to read back later on.
11. Watch some stand up comedy - there’s something for everyone. I really like some of Billy Connolly's stand up stuff, and (not stand up but equally hilarious) Mighty Boosh.
12. Paint - I find just getting some paint and doing something fairly abstract really cathartic! But if you want to paint a landscape or even your pet dog, go for it! You don’t need to have a talent, it's about the process and expressing your feelings, not the end result.
Mental Self Care
Mental self care is all about things that provide diversion and are mentally stimulation without causing further stress. I would say most relaxation techniques come under this.
13. Take day trips - Even if it's little trips around your home town, to see an attraction you’ve never been to, an exhibition at your local museum, or something further afield. It doesn’t need to be expensive or even a whole day. Just a little change of scenery can do the world of good. If you can't get out right now, plan some day trips for when you can.
14. Find a new hobby or spend time doing an old one
15. Take a data break - put the phone on silent, stop answering emails, maybe even ditch the TV for a day, and focus on the inner you, less on the outer world.
16. Journal - i’ve not managed to write something every day for a year. Its something i’ve often done on/off. But when you feel good or bad its often helpful to write about it and look back at a later time.
17. Read for pleasure
18. Keep being curious - think of a question and google it.
19. Reduce your stress levels - yes, thats a big statement, not always easy to achieve. But even finding small things that you can change is a start. I’ve found even having small things like having washing done on a friday and a Tuesday is easier and less stressful than sunday and Wednesday - terms of drying and making sure school clothes are ready for the little one if nothing else!
20. Use a calendar/diary and make sure you schedule you time - keeping organised is what keeps me vaguely sane! With so many different medical appointments to keep on top of, using a calendar is the only way I can make sure I don’t miss any!
21. Keep a budget - Same as using a calendar, keeping a budget is what stops me getting further debts and helps me see where I might be overpaying bills. Not being in debt helps keep me happy!
22. Start a zine/blog/e-zine - I love writing these blogs! I love it even more when I get feedback that they’re actually helped someone. I used to write a alt/feminist zine about crafts and fashion!
23. Make yourself a priority - I know how hard this one can be! If you don't look after yourself, it can be very difficult to properly look after others.With children and other commitments, it can be difficult to find time for yourself. Just pencilling in to your diary sometime for you can be start.
24. Do a brain dump - There are times when my anxiety gets the better of me.It can feel like everything that's going on in my head has become one unsurmountable to-do list. But I often find just writing down everything that's going on in my head is very helpful technique.
25. Relax watching the clouds go by - Make shapes out of them like you did when you were a kid!
26. Learn a new skill - there are loads of sites such as:
28. Adult colouring books - Amazon has a really good selection of books, and its a relaxation method I find fool proof!
Physical Self Care
I know we can't (or don't) always feel physically good due to our conditions, but looking after yourself can help!
29. Exercise or do your physio - Exercise takes up spoons, I know! But even if its small amounts of what non-disabled/chronically ill people would see as non-vigorous, its something! I’ve been trying to find an online wheelchair aerobics workout that isn’t going to over stretch me. Theres also seated yoga!
30. Drink enough - doesn’t need to be water, it just needs to not be caffeinated. If you need a fizzy fix, why not try sparkling water and lemon juice? I’ve been using the app Plant Nanny after my nurse who's dealing my dysautonomia symptoms suggested it.
31. Eat enough and eat the right things for you - I know I really can’t afford to have even a sip of something with artificial sweeteners if I don’t want a migraine. But yet I don’t always check labels… the same with my soya allergy! I know I should be eating 3 times a day (some feel better with having small meals throughout the day rather than 3 larger ones), and eating mainly plant based foods with a little bit of meat or fish. I know I shouldn’t have things high in fat or sugar...but I also need to be allowed to indulge sometimes. Everything in moderation!
32. Take your meds - As much as I don’t like it, I have to take my meds and my supplements to keep me going. If I don’t i get horrible side effects and end up in a world of pain. That said, I have poor short term memory and not always remember to take them. Having alarms on my phone sometimes helps (especially with time sensitive ones or ones I take more than once/twice a day). There is no shame in taking medication if you need it. I am well aware of the horribleness, especially in the US at the moment towards those using opiate-based medication. But if you’re prescribed it and you feel you need it then the naysayers can go do one! There isn’t always an alternative and there's a lot of research suggesting pain is more damaging than dependency.
33. Masturbation - again I know this is one which a lot of people don’t want to talk about, but it's a perfectly healthy thing to do! Its helping in aiding relaxation at the very least!
34. Assess your sleep hygiene - are you getting enough sleep? Are you sleeping at the right times? Do you have too much light in the room? Electronics? Making small changes to your sleep routine can make a big difference on how you feel both mentally and physically.
35. Take time to have relaxing showers or baths
36. Manicure or Pedicure - If you can’t do it yourself, why not get a mobile beautician?
37. Make a list of healthy comfort foods you can eat - Nuts, seeds, fruit salad, low carb or whole food brownies...there's a lot out there, why not indulge?
38. Take naps - Naps are so gooood!
39. Create a ceremony of taking a cup of tea or coffee - we don’t always feel we have the time to stop and relax. But if you can take the time for a tea or coffee, make a ritual of it. Drink it mindfully. Take some deep breaths. Have one or two of your favourite biscuits with it. Put the radio on for 5 mins and sit back and listen. Or go the whole hog and make more than just a ritual out of it
40. Have a traditional British high tea at home and invite friends - I have never had high tea. Certainly not in a posh hotel, and probably not about 3pm. Connecting with friends, eating cake whilst drinking caffeinated beverages sound like heaven to me!
41. Learn about spoon theory and pacing - you can learn about what spoon theory is and how it can help you pace here
42. Have a home spa day - Pinterest is full of DIY home spa ideas - from hair masks, facials, to foot scrubs and everything in between!
43. Have nice looking comfy clothes for duvet days
45. If you're having a duvet day make sure you have nice bedsheets
46. Get outside or open all the windows
47. Pop bubble wrap - remember the red dwarf tension sheet episode?
48. Make mocktails and have a mocktail party
Work/Volunteering/Practical Self Care
Work and Volunteering self care is all about keeping a good balance, reducing stress levels in the work/volunteering place, but most of all having an activity which you feel gives you some kind of validation.
49. Set clear goals - I was introduced to the SMART method for goal setting during a pain management program. Didn’t rate the program, but I did rate this method!
50. Negotiate the conditions you need at work or volunteering - whether it’s a raise, using the access to work scheme, or having accessible conditions.
51. Make sure you have balance in your life - Start off by filling out a wheel of life, then think about what actions you can take or work towards taking in order to balance those sectors. Its also worth doing a 24 hr diagram of your time. Do you spend too much time on social media? Is there something you want to be doing that you don’t feel you have the time for?
52. Prioritise your tasks - This blog explains how to do it best
53. Keep yourself organised and keep on top of paperwork
54. Share your skills - volunteering is a great way to do it! https://do-it.org/ has a great list of organisations near you, in need of volunteers.
55. Use unstuck - great app for finding ways through sticky situations
56. Learn productivity skills - some swear by the pomodoro method, but if that's not for you try these out for size.
57. Put systems in place - I like plans. I like labels. I like to know what's happening when. But even these don’t always work. I changed laundry days to make Sundays less stressful, and I have backup plans for flare ups. Doesn’t work for everyone but it certainly works for me!
58. Virtual volunteering - There are lots of online support groups which need people to moderate and give advice. Theres also many different causes which need people to campaign. Sites like 38 degrees, change.org are great places to start. Theres also virtual volunteering opportunities through the UN.
59. Knitting clothes for premature babies- It's a really rewarding task. It’s not always easy to buy clothes for premies and they’re always welcomed by neo-natal units.
Relationship Self Care
No one is an island! Friends, family and romantic relationships are all important to your wellbeing, as is your relationship with the wider world.
60. Skype friends and family - Even if you can’t get to see them IRL, a quick chat can raise the spirits!
61. Send message of appreciation - Thank you notes are great, gratitude letters (even if it's an open letter to the world), are better.
62. Make time for your best friend or partner to have a "date night"
63. Write good old snail mail - I love handwritten letters and cards. It's not easy for me to write for long but even short cards are nice to receive.
64. Set healthy boundaries - if you don’t want someone around or around so much, make yourself heard!
65. Don't neglect other friendships or relationships in favour of one other
66. Make new friends - Meet up groups are a great way to make new friends in real life, but facebook groups are just as good. I highly recommend Awesome Wheelies UK if you’re a wheelchair or scooter user living in the UK.
67. Don't over commit yourself - Think back to spoon theory and your wheel of life.
68. Spend time with pets
69. Intimacy and sex - We all need some sexual healing sometime! Whether thats physical intimacy, penetrative sex or somewhere inbetween. How you do it doesn’t matter, as long as you and your partner feel comfortable and safe!
Psyche Self Care
Your psyche, spirit, soul, inner self or whatever you want to call it is probably on of the most neglected areas of self care. Its a difficult on as a lot of people feel it relies a lot upon having some kind of religion or spirituality. It really doesn't (although that can be part of it). Its about learning to listen to yourself and get beyond those judgements we find ourselves making about ourselves which aren't always helpful.
70. Listen to music you really like - Spotify is great for finding new music, as is amazon music
71. Spend time reflecting - its good to just sit back, relax and think!
72. Spend time in nature or bring nature to you - If you can get out, find a nice spot - canals and bridal paths are often good places. If you can’t why not have bird feeders on your window or have house plants. Even nature sounds can help.
73. Get inspired by art/nature/architecture/music
74. Connect with your spiritual side if you have one
75. Indulge your inner child - Build a pillow fort, have hot chocolate and watch old school kids TV.
76. Learn mindfullness and meditation - I love the headspace app!
77. Sing your heart out
78. Pay it forward - its an old concept, but its a good one. More ideas here
79. Get involved with mail swap groups - There are many of Facebook. Check them out!
80. Have a gratitude list
81. Reflect upon your resilience - Us spoonies and wheelies are made of tough stuff! Celebrate your resilience, and the ways you have overcome adversity.
82. Watch the stars
83. Write poetry - If you’re not sure how, this is a very good book to show you
84. Take part in post secret - Post secret started as a small mail art project, and has now turned into a worldwide phenomena.
85. Read poetry - This is a brilliant book to unwind with!
What self care methods do you use? Let us know in the comments!