In honor of World Mental Health Day, we asked Quirk authors what they do to practice self-care. Need some inspiration? Read on.
Ashley Poston, author of Geekerella
For me, self-care is hard. It's so easy to listen to that voice in my head saying I should be working 24/7 — if I'm idle, I should be working! Am I playing a video game? I should be working! Reading a book? WHY AREN'T I WORKING!? It isn't healthy, and in the end, I don't do my best work if I'm forcing myself to work all the time. So I set goals for myself. If I write for 4 hours, I'll go take a walk and recharge. Did I beast that deadline? Time to treat myself to a new video game! Sleep in on weekends, schedule time out for my friends, plan that D&D campaign I've always wanted to do — stuff like that. Self-care isn't always about face masks and spa treatments, sometimes it's just sitting down, taking a deep breath, and telling yourself, "Take your time."
Sam Maggs, author of Girl Squads, Wonder Women, and The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy
As a writer and an introvert, it's pretty easy for me to isolate myself. And as someone who genuinely enjoys and recovers energy from being alone, it can be hard to convince myself that getting out is the right thing to do for my mental health. But really, there's nothing more restorative than a solid afternoon with my buds, whether it be seeing a movie together, hanging out on the couch in our PJs playing video games, or sitting around a table playing D&D. And then returning to my solo cave afterwards, of course. But with the full knowledge that I've loved and have people around me whom I love, too.
Jess Zimmerman and Jaya Saxena, authors of Basic Witches
Jess: It's so tricky to figure out self-care right now because we (or at least I) tend to feel like it's unconscionable to let our guard down or put rage aside even for a minute, but it's also so mentally and physically corrosive to live that way. For me, one way this has manifested is that I have an increasingly difficult time with the aspects of self-care that feel like letting myself off the hook. (I still do them, but I feel guilty and crummy about them which is not very self-caring!) What works for me instead is revisiting books or TV that I find comforting and meaningful—Great British Bake Off, Red Dwarf, Good Omens. I'm still engaged, but I'm engaging with something familiar, where I can relax and let my mind run on well-grooved tracks.
Jaya: There are definitely some days where the only things that keep me going are take-out pad thai and Purple Rain, but for the most part, I feel better about myself when I feel like I'm being active. When I'm really ambitious that means taking an afternoon off work to volunteer, but usually it's running errands and exercising and seeing friends. Just anything that has me actually engaging with my community instead of looking at my phone in despair.
Larissa Zageris and Kitty Curran, authors of My Lady's Choosing
Larissa: I like to take special care of myself by taking leisurely strolls around certain stores. It isn’t about the shopping, but more about being quiet and contemplative in a place full of people and hustle and bustle. I like to take really long walks or walk home from work if I can, and just listen to the sounds of the city. I think both of those acts are my form of meditation. I also like to make food for the week to save time and cut stress, and the act of making the meal is so pleasantly focused and low-key that it feels very comforting.
Kitty: I import PG Tips from The Old Country, and basically chain drink it at all times. Tea for me is like Tiffany's for Holly Gollightly: Nothing very bad can happen to me when I have a cup. (It also has the advantage of being portable, unlike Tiffany's.)
Gabrielle Moss, author of Paperback Crush
My #1 self-care practice is cleaning my house while listening to comedy podcasts. I like to blast an episode of "My Brother, My Brother & Me," "Womp It Up!," or "My Dad Wrote A Porno" and just go to town on some shower mold. The comedy soothes my brain, and the cleaning makes me feel like I have control over something in life (even if that thing is shower mold). Is it totally missing the point of self-care to relax by cleaning a toilet? I don't know, but it is the only thing that brings me any peace in this crazy-ass world.
KaeLyn Rich, author of Girls Resist!
I don't have self-care down exactly right all of the time and part of what I do for self-care is forgive myself for not always being able to do self-care. Ha! Real life, though, the last thing I need to add to my stress baggage is guilt that I'm not doing enough self-care. I do try to get myself back on track as soon as I can, though. I find I'm most successful when I map out what self-care looks like and come up with a chill way of monitoring my progress. In my planner, I create a little tracker for self-care that I can check off every day. Self-care can be anything from watching some TV to reading a book to taking a nap to eating comfort food. It doesn't always have to be a major thing. Even just putting down my devices for an hour can be really centering in an otherwise busy day. I think the key to self-care success is to make it attainable and to allow it to be imperfect.