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The Hows and Whys of Self Care

Self-care is gaining popularity and attention across the board. While some debate how much caring for oneself is too much, the fact remains that more and more people, from overworked employees to sleep-deprived parents to school-weary teens, are beginning to realize just how much daily life demands of us, and that we can’t pour from an empty cup.

The same is true for writers. We often get so focused on producing results that we don’t take the time to make sure we’re refilling our cup. When we try to pour into our craft from a dry bucket, we end up harming our outcome, missing deadlines, giving less than we’re capable of at our best, and making a mess of things and of our mental health.

Self-care is important, and it looks a lot of different ways. When you’re actively working, for example, it can mean:

  1. Stopping regularly to stretch and correct your posture.

  2. Making sure you’re eating and drinking.

  3. Taking breaks to rest your eyes, pace a few laps, and let your brain relax.

  4. Setting up a reward system for hitting milestones.

But sometimes self-care also means we need to NOT be working on a project at all. We need to take longer periods of time to rejuvenate and refill our cups. Sometimes that looks like:

  1. Taking a weekend (or longer) off from writing.

  2. Reading for pleasure, not for work.

  3. Engaging in other activities you enjoy, like Netflix, shopping, sports, etc.

  4. Spending time with people/people watching.

  5. Changing your environment for a bit.

One of the most critical points to self-care is to not engage in negative self-talk when you have to do something other than writing. Taking a break and stepping away to relax and recover doesn’t have the maximum effect if you’re wearing yourself down the whole time with an internal monologue on how you should be writing instead.

It’s okay to relax. To step away. To let go for a bit.

Part of taking care of yourself is physical, and part is mental. Both are necessary for our overall health and it’s so important to strike a healthy balance in how we relate to writing so that we don’t completely drain our cup. We will do much better for ourselves and for our projects if we take much-needed and well-deserved breaks at regular intervals, so that we can approach our tasks with the joy and inspiration that help make them their absolute best.

What can YOU do to take better care of yourself today?

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