Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

How Do You Practice Self-Care?

After a stressful couple of years in which I didn’t prioritize myself (my health, well-being, etc.), I vowed to make 2018 a year of good self-care (or at least, relaxing a bit more). So far, I’m pretty on track: On the medical front: I’ve started bimonthly acupuncture sessions to treat my alopecia and anxiety; I had a dental cleaning last month; I get a full physical and gyne exam next week; and I see my endocrinologist a few weeks after that. I still need to see the dermatologist, but I’ll get to it. I’m also working toward changing my diet, eliminating/reducing foods that increase inflammation and eating more of those that fight inflammation. I am sleeping better and have more energy during the day.

More fun that all of than though are the small (and big) pleasures I enjoy as a way to practice self-care. A few of my favorites that I’ve embraced this year:

* Ever since we moved into our place just before the winter holidays, I’ve been taking lots of baths. Baths, of course, are not complete without bath products. I love sheet masks, like this one, this body polish, I’ve been into this bar soap lately, and I use this tray to hold everything. (Drew’s gotten into taking baths, too, and for his birthday this week, I got him this to take the experience to the next level).

* Reading good memoirs. The last one I finished was this. I have this one on hold at the library. Any other recommendations?

* Jogs in the park listening to current favorite songs on repeat. This week, I’ve been listening to an old favorite and practicing for a karaoke date coming up with some neighborhood friends.

* I take a CBD gummie, which I recently described to a friend as “Xanax lite.” You don’t need a prescription, it’s totally legal in all fifty states, and it can be mailed directly to your home. (The CBD is the cannabinoid found in marijuana without the THC, which is what makes you stoned. With a product like a CBD gummie, you relax a little without being high.)
The company I like isn’t cheap, but I look for discounts online and I then I ration the gummies sparingly (and double up when I fly, which I hate doing).

* Curling up with a heating pad. Drew tweaked his back a couple months ago and bought a simple heating pad that he used for a few days. Since he got better, I’ve basically stolen the pad and use it myself almost every night before bed. I read this essay a few days ago and it totally resonated with me (like the author, I also have a Bed Buddy that I heat up and wrap around my neck when I’m tense).

* I succumbed to a trend I spotted on Instagram and bought my own jade roller not too long ago. A few nights a week I moisturize my face and roll my face out before bed. Maybe I’m just tricking myself, but I swear my complexion looks more even and vibrant on the mornings after these rolling sessions.

* It’s not very often, but every once in a while, if I have gotten enough work done early in the day when Joanie’s with our nanny, I take a 20-minute snooze when she comes home and goes down for a nap. Balancing working from home part-time with being a stay-at-home mom is a juggling act and in the past I felt guilty about taking any time that I wasn’t directly caring for the kids (like when they were at school, with a nanny, or taking a nap) to care for myself. But then my hair started falling out in clumps and I was diagnosed with alopecia, which is triggered by stress, and my perspective has been slowly changing. In addition to an occasional nap and all these other acts of self-care, I am also practicing saying “no” more often to things I don’t want and don’t have to do.

How are you practicing self-care these days?

53 comments… add one
  • A.K. April 10, 2018, 9:11 am

    Omg can you please tell us more about the gummies? I have never heard of these before, but as someone who experiences a lot of daily anxiety I am now massively curious… what are the effects like for you?

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    • Dear Wendy April 10, 2018, 9:15 am

      Honestly, the only effect for me is the reduction of anxiety. There’s no body buzz or high or brain fog or hangover or anything. I just feel less anxious.

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  • Ale April 10, 2018, 9:14 am

    Those CBD gummies look extremely interesting…
    A jade roller! I so, so want one.

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  • Howdywiley April 10, 2018, 9:29 am

    Since the beginning of the year I have lost 28 pounds by focusing on my diet and going to the gym. It’s been a big change focusing on myself so much because I have three small kids.

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    • Ale April 10, 2018, 10:20 am

      Wow! Congrats, keep up the good work.

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  • Lianne April 10, 2018, 10:03 am

    Being 40 weeks pregnant today, the majority of my self care has been weekly pre-natal massage and trying to get as much sleep as possible. The latter item is a challenge due to major sleep issues in my nearly two year old. He slept all night last night, though, and I feel like a new person today!

    Once baby is born and our routine is established, I plan to start working out, indulging in more boozy brunches, getting into therapy, reconnecting with friends, and getting outside more (once the weather turns!).

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    • MaterialsGirl April 10, 2018, 6:38 pm

      whoho!! 40 weeks! Hoping the little one comes soon 🙂

      I want a boozy brunch so bad… 25 more weeks to go.

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      • Lianne April 10, 2018, 7:46 pm

        Almost half way there!!!

  • Kate April 10, 2018, 10:18 am

    My particular issues don’t respond much to talk therapy, but a lot of common issues do, I think, so it’s totally worth a good try for lots of people. If you need more than talk and behavior modification, they can figure that out with you.

    So instead of therapy, I go every week for a blowout, every other week for mani, and every month for a pedi. Every 9 weeks for cut and highlights. That really helps.

    I’ve had very bad sleep problems my whole life, so I have to practice good sleep hygiene. This includes herbal tea, an early and consistent bedtime, and reading books. Unfortunately it also includes some other stuff, which I’ve alluded to elsewhere.

    I do a short workout every day on an app and I walk a good amount.

    On weekends I like to go to brunch.

    I also need to get to the sea whenever possible.

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    • carolann April 11, 2018, 1:44 am

      I have also had very bad sleep issues my whole life. I am currently taking l-tryptophan (but it keeps me a little too regular 😉 and cbd to help with that. I have tried so many teas, herbs, etc… spent so much money! Some help, but only a bit. Melatonin works well, but it gives me a headache the next day. I won’t take anything prescription. I have tried a few in the past though.
      I am waiting for mj to be legalized here. It is the only thing that really helps me without side effects.

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      • Kate April 11, 2018, 8:08 am

        My job right now is very low stress, like tooooo low stress, so my mind isn’t racing at night. All I should need is a relaxing tea and one zzz-quil (Diphenhydramine does work pretty well for me). But during a crazy time at work, I started taking a prescription benzo every night, just a very small amount, but the joke’s on me because now it’s proving very hard to quit entirely. I feel like I can do it though. Almost there. CBD, idk, I haven’t heard anything to make me think it’s not safe, but I wonder if you can develop a dependency. Weed has never really done anything for me, but maybe the CBD alone would. I would like to be able to stick to just diphenhydramine though.

  • Loo April 10, 2018, 10:50 am

    One of the biggest ways I’m kind to myself if when I fill up my car with gas before I’m on empty. I know it’s a small thing, but it’s something I try to gift myself after many many stressful drives looking for a gas station while driving on fumes.

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  • Copa April 10, 2018, 11:24 am

    My favorite method of self-care is exercise. I love my gym. The community is great, and the workouts are challenging and require focus, so it’s my worry-free hour. I love that.

    Other things I try to do:
    – Cook healthy meals. I’ve had a couple abdominal surgeries over the past few years, including gallbladder removal, and my GI system can get thrown out of whack easily. I love food and drinks out, but am increasingly sparing myself the tummy issues that so often come with that.
    – Long dog walks. This winter has been brutal (was ready to punch someone yesterday when it was snowing) so I’ve been taking what opportunities I can to take my dog on long walks. Our favorite is beach days. He loses his mind at the beach, he’s so happy, and I love it.
    -I have a bad habit of falling asleep on the couch while watching TV when I’m stressed out. Unsurprisingly, this makes for a bad night of sleep when I wake up late at night and have to drag my ass to bed. I’m cutting this habit out. It’s helping.

    Work is pretty stressful right now, and I’m prone to work stress dreams, so I keep thinking I should try bedtime yoga/stretching/meditation to see if it helps. Just can’t quite force myself to do it yet.

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  • K April 10, 2018, 11:44 am

    I started taking yoga classes once or twice a week. I’ve also been taking a few boxing classes, but I like yoga more in terms of self care. I go for manicures on occasion. Soon it will be kayaking season and that’s one of my favorite relaxing things to do.

    For memoirs, I recently read “The Rules Do Not Apply” by Ariel Levy. It was a quick read and I really liked it.

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    • Kate April 10, 2018, 11:45 am

      I read that too, it was pretty good!

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  • Dear Wendy April 10, 2018, 11:49 am

    I forgot one of my faves: fresh flowers! I splurge on flowers almost every week. I especially love the mixed bouquets available at the farmers market near me in the spring, summer, and fall. For $15, you get a huge, beautiful bouquet of seasonal flowers that lasts all week.

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    • Lianne April 10, 2018, 2:40 pm

      Funny you mention this! I just picked up a bouquet of tulips (my favorite) when I stopped to get a few things at the grocery store. I thought to myself, you really need to buy flowers more. Adding it to my list.

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  • Angie RS April 10, 2018, 12:26 pm

    Weekly writing sessions at a coffee shop with my writers’ group. I’m an extrovert, so kicking it alone in the bath isn’t my idea of recharge time. I also consider my gym membership that includes childcare, a bistro (have to pay for food/drink), an indoor and outdoor pool to be essential spending for my mental well-being. We have to budget for it, but it’s worth it to get two, kid-free hours to myself. My husband and I will sometimes drop the kids off and hang at the pool or bistro just to get some couple time. I need regular workouts to keep my lingering postpartum anxiety/depression manageable.

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  • ktfran April 10, 2018, 12:36 pm

    YES to fresh flowers! I do this more in the spring/summer months when I can get to the farmers market. Flowers make me smile.

    Other self care routines:
    Private pilates. Expensive, but fucking worth it.
    A bath once a week with some good old CVS brand lavender bath salts.
    Cut and color every six weeks. (I sport a pixie that grows super fast).
    A coffee and almond croissant at a local coffee shop on my 1.3 mile walk home from the grocery store every Sunday morning.
    A face scrub I like from Kiehl’s twice a week.
    Brunch or HH dates with friends.
    A couple of hours of guilty pleasure TV shows or a movie on Sunday’s when the husband is bowling.

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  • anonymousse April 10, 2018, 1:32 pm

    I love Epsom salt baths and bath, body, facial care products. I’m a bit of a product hoarder.
    I try to stretch and do some yoga most mornings. I have found I really do well with a somewhat of a routine everyday, so I am trying to get back into that. And I’ve been steadily Kondo-ing negativity out of my life.
    My self care rituals are part Parks and Rec “treat yo’self” and part really taking care of my body. I try to exercise outside daily (other than the 10,000+ steps running after toddlers) eat mostly vegetables, and I have pretty much stopped drinking except for social situations when the champs is just too tempting. I have lost a ton of weight since last fall so I do indulge in my favorite junk food more than I used to. Potato chips!

    I am very sad to not be in a legal recreational state anymore, but I have been tempted to try very expensive CBD gummies. They are a lot more pricey that I imagined!

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    • carolann April 11, 2018, 2:11 am

      Have you tried the “Simply” Ruffles? OMG they are like crack for real!

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      • anonymousse April 11, 2018, 8:53 am

        I’m a Kettle chip fan. I like the sea salt and black pepper ones, or jalapeño.

  • JD April 10, 2018, 4:18 pm

    I moved recently and am actually struggling. Beyond an occasional face mask there is no self care of any kind. I don’t have a bath tub now and I may lose my mind over it. I am a daily bath taker. All I do it take care of people, it is sucking the existence out of me, sigh. Off to shuttle kids around.

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    • Dear Wendy April 10, 2018, 5:31 pm

      You have to find an outlet! You have to prioritize self-care. You will be of no use to your family, let alone anyone else, if you let yourself burn out on caring for everyone but you.

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      • JD April 10, 2018, 6:10 pm

        Counting the days until I can run outdoors. Already burned out. Need some spa and shopping time badly. Also to not explain repeatedly to a teenager why washing their hands is something that needs to happen. Hahaha

    • carolann April 11, 2018, 1:54 am

      I am a daily bath taker myself. I couldn’t imagine going without. Is there a friend or family member with a bathtub you can use? Tell them it is an emergency!!!!

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      • JD April 11, 2018, 10:48 am

        Well we have a bath in teenagers bathroom. I barely fit and I have to clean the heck out of it prior. My arms dont even fit in the tub with my body and I am small. SO thought it was fine. He just didnt realize.

    • anonymousse April 11, 2018, 8:55 am

      Before I moved in with my then bf (now husband) I asked him to look at an apartment or two for me, and he crossed them off the list when there was no bath tub. Even then, he knew what I needed to be happy even better than I did.

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      • Kate April 11, 2018, 11:16 am

        The place we’re moving into in Cambridge MA has legit 1920s bathtubs that are deep. It also has unlimited very hot water that comes up from the basement boiler and hits our place first because it’s on the first floor. Where we’ve been living, one of the bathrooms has a tub but it’s not too big, and the flash heater runs out of hot water too soon imo. I’m going to get back into baths! My husband is into it too because he can fit in there for a soak after a workout.

        The bathrooms also have the original 20’s toilets, with flushometers on them because it used to be a hotel. These things are industrial strength and you could flush just about anything down there.

      • anonymousse April 11, 2018, 12:34 pm

        That sounds amazing! I used to live in Cambridge years ago.

      • Kate April 11, 2018, 1:56 pm

        Oh yeah, I think I knew that! I’m excited to live there.

      • Emily April 11, 2018, 2:48 pm

        I work in Cambridge! I’m jealous of your bathtub. Our house was built in 1927 and somewhere along the line they put in a “modern tub” which sucks. The back is completely straight and it is so uncomfortable. I miss baths.

      • Kate April 11, 2018, 2:53 pm

        Oh you do? Cool! I wish I worked there too. They’ve just kept like, refinishing these tubs, because otherwise I think you’d have to do significant demolition to get them out. It’s that original “subway” tile on the bathroom walls too, for the same reason. But it looks cool and has been polished up. 1926 is the date.

      • anonymousse April 11, 2018, 4:38 pm

        I lived on a street off Central Square, which was definitely interesting. I later moved to Inman Square area. Near Bukowskis. Ahh, memories.
        It’s probably been ten or so years since I’ve been to the Boston area.
        When do you move, Kate?

      • Kate April 11, 2018, 4:59 pm

        Ah yes, I worked for a while on Mass Ave between Harvard and Central and took a bus in and out of Central to get home. And my friend lived in Inman. We’re moving to Porter, May 17.

      • anonymousse April 11, 2018, 5:16 pm

        Exciting. Congratulations!

      • Kate April 11, 2018, 5:21 pm

        Thanks! Excited to get out of this House of Assholes and town full of reckless drivers.

  • Guy Friday April 10, 2018, 4:32 pm

    Not to be a Debbie Downer, but to clarify: CBD gummies aren’t technically legal in all 50 states. Most states have more than zero tolerance for different types of cannabidiol products, but my state, for example, has only allowed CBD oil, and only by prescription (which most doctors are still uncomfortable doing, sadly).

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  • Miss MJ April 10, 2018, 4:48 pm

    This is a really good thread. I kind of needed to see it.

    I’ve been stressing out a lot lately even though there’s nothing to really stress out about. And it’s making me angry at myself for being stressed and sad because I can’t fully enjoy that it’s slow at work and it’s finally spring and the downtime won’t last long and I feel like I’m wasting it. So, I’ve been over-medicating with wine, which is nice in the moment, but not really helpful as a long term strategy, you know?

    Y’all have inspired me to go for a run after work, then maybe redo my nails before finding a really good book to read tonight.

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  • Shelly G April 10, 2018, 5:20 pm

    I’ve always eaten pretty healthy and love, love me a good bath (under my bathroom sink in pretty much filled with Epsom salts and bubble baths, the like). What I’ve changed this year, though, is making sure to schedule some “me time” during the week — Wednesday afternoons are all me, I just do whatever I need to decompress, usually a very long, very hot bath, a damn good (pre-made) dinner, and catching up on my shows. Sometimes I add on going to The local bar for karaoke. The house is still clean from the weekend and I give myself permission to just not stress.

    My favorite is Sunday evenings. This won’t work for most people, but that’s my “spa day” with my daughter (who is almost 6). The house is clean, I am set up for my work during the week. I put together a “spread” — like meats, cheese, crackers, fruit, veggies, nuts, just easy snacking. We do face masks, paint our nails, each take a bath with bubbles and Epsom salts, and lounge around in our robes watching AFV and The Simpson’s. We bond and relax for the upcoming week. She usually cuddles up with my fiancé and falls asleep.

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    • ktfran April 10, 2018, 5:28 pm

      This sounds like so much fun! I like to make myself a similar spread when the husband is away on business or with friends.

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    • JD April 10, 2018, 6:13 pm

      Oh this is good. I do love Sunday’s since all the chores are done and I can be lazy, paint my nails, face mask. I own a disturbing number of face masks. I put them on my husband too. Then just lie around and eat and watch ID channel all day.

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    • MaterialsGirl April 10, 2018, 6:51 pm

      This is so fun! i love it 🙂 and who doesn’t love meats and cheeses and crackers!!!

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  • Ange April 10, 2018, 6:36 pm

    My self care is skin care, I love slathering whatever new stuff I’m into all over my face and seeing the results. Otherwise I spend weekend mornings in bed with a coffee watching youtube. I need to incorporate more exercise but I can feel a rheumatoid flare up lurking below the surface so I’m taking it easy. The start of the year was super busy and stressful with work which has probably triggered it so I need to slow down a bit.

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  • MaterialsGirl April 10, 2018, 6:42 pm

    i’ve been hearing about educated lately! i wanna read it! maybe DW book club?

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  • MaterialsGirl April 10, 2018, 6:50 pm

    Bathtime was my New Year’s Resolution. Facemasks (see my instagram, I just loaded up from my recent trip to Seoul). Fresh flowers. Guster. The Smiths. The Killers. The Cure. Old songs from years ago that bring me back to certain time periods of my life. Sunday mornings when my husband is still asleep and I listen to music, drink tea and clean and have the sun shine into the apartment.
    Running. Running. Running. Weight lifting (particularly the heavy ropes. 7 minutes and I feel like a new person).
    Writing down little tidbits in my bullet journal. Making lists to help me visualize my emotions and the things that scare me (makes them much less scary and then I have a plan! I love plans!)
    Cooking elaborate meals and feeding people. Making a beautiful table.
    Looking at the lake. i’m a water person 100%. floating in the pool.

    Pregnant MG loves naps. (not pregnant MG hates naps). Pregnant MG also loves fruit popsicles (I actually love ice cream, but I’m trying not to make a 10 pound baby like my sister in law just did, uffda).

    Wandering around downtown people watching and window shopping.

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    • carolann April 11, 2018, 2:03 am

      My first baby was 9 lbs 5 ounces…had her vaginally and that was rough! My other two were 7 lbs 2 oz each. The first was so rough the other two are lucky I was willing to have anymore.
      Wait, I shouldn’t be saying this to a ? should I?
      You’ll be FINE, lol

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      • MaterialsGirl April 11, 2018, 11:02 am

        haaaa. my mom had 5.. only one was above 10.. (4’th one)
        the rest of us were between 8-9

  • MaterialsGirl April 10, 2018, 6:54 pm

    @Wendy, I’ve been considering this jade roller and I may just trigger on it. I have the R+F needle roller thing too which I’ve liked. I started the “korean skin care process” or whatever since I got back and that has been wondrous on my skin and this would definitely be a fun step 🙂

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  • carolann April 11, 2018, 1:36 am

    I vape cbd. My husband buys cbd (nicotine free) vape juice for me where he buys his nicotine vape juice. I also sometimes buy the straight oil (which is way stronger) and put a few drops under my tongue. I pay about $50 for the straight oil and whoa, does it ever calm me down when the kids get me worked up. The vape juice is nice to sit and smoke on. It’s like my peace pipe.

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  • Dear Wendy April 12, 2018, 11:13 am

    This is such a good one. I think of it as family-care and relationship-care as much as self-care. Ours comes twice a month too and I would — and do — sacrifice many things before sacrificing professional house cleaning. Our housekeeper was out recovering from an injury for the first ten weeks of this year, so I was back to doing 98% of the cleaning myself and it sucked. When she came back, I paid her some sick leave pay and gave her a raise. I hope she never leaves again!!

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  • Sara S November 19, 2018, 7:06 am

    They certainly are expensive but worthwhile at Green Roads. If anyone is looking for a Green Roads CBD discount this is the place I visit before buying https://yourweedcoupons.com/store/green-roads-world/

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