Writer's Survival Guide Part 3: Taking Care of Our Needs
The writer's life is a busy one. On top of all our regular responsibilities (work, family, bills, chores, etc...), we're squeezing in writing, revising, story planning, social media, and many other things unique to our career.
Add the dead of winter to the mix and an on-going recession and it's easy to let our personal needs slide until they eventually disappear. (I'm too tired. It's too gray outside. We can't afford it.)
When I started writing, I was excited, so excited about the future. But as time wore on, more ups and downs passed, and, eventually I moved from a perpetual mood of excitement to a gripping hope.
I'm not sure exactly how or when, but during the last years, I neglected some of my needs in the anticipation of getting published, as if somehow a contract would give me the right to need them again.
How dumb! We have to take care of ourselves. Every day. Period.
Now, I live in a more grounded reality, and it's one where I take care of my needs. No more waiting for someday to happen. I have to take care of me NOW.
Your needs will be different than mine. The important thing is to identify what yours are and find ways to fulfill them. Easy, right? Just:
1. Identify what your needs are.
2. Fulfill them.
It's a magic formula, folks. :)
Read through my blog archives and you'll see my needs haven't changed much. Here are some of the things I do to keep my spirits fresh. (In no particular order)
a. Read magazines that inspire me--cooking, home decorating, celebrity gossip, and writing craft magazines keep me dreaming.
b. Listen to soothing music on my iPod. (How hard is it to slap earbuds in and click a button? And yet, too many days go by with me hearing only background noise. Blah.)
c. Care for my skin. I take Fish Oil vitamins to keep my skin clear, nails strong, and hair healthy. I also like to put on a skin mask once a week, use witch hazel as a toner each night, and slather on rich, thick nightcream. All of these tasks take little time and are inexpensive.
d. I make my bed each morning. We have a beautiful bedspread, soft throw, and several accent pillows. I like arranging them. It makes me happy to see my pretty bed.
e. Take a walk outside. Fresh air is vital to my soul. Vital. I don't care what temperature it is outside, I try very hard to take a quick walk. Plus, I like to talk to God outdoors.
f. Keep my tootsies smooth. Maybe this is TMI, but I want my feet to be sandal ready all year long, so I keep a foot file and a small tube of Bath & Body Works lotion by my bed. Less than 60 seconds a night keeps my feet soft.
g. Indulge in homemade treats. I love to bake. I love coffee. I love hot tea. If I want a brownie on a Thursday night, I grab a box mix and have one. I try not to compartmentalize my day with food, nor do I have off-limits treats. Since I know I can have a hot cup of coffee or a cupcake whenever I want, I don't want them as often. :)
h. Check in with friends. Most of us have a group of besties. My sister and my mom are my tight inner circle, but I also have wonderful, close relatives from my husband's side of the family in addition to good friends. I'm not always great about reaching out, but when I do, I feel better. It's good to have friends.
i. Head to the library. The library is my happy place.
j. Dare I say it? Exercise. Yes, I avoid it as much as the next person, but I always feel great after a workout. Go figure.
I could go on and on. If I'm at a point in my life where I can't take an hour to read a magazine, listen to my iPod, or pop a fish oil pill, well, I know things are spiralling out of control. This list is full of simple, cheap or free pleasures.
Sometimes I think we wait for someone to give us permission to take care of ourselves, but we're making a mistake. First of all, they don't know exactly what we need at any given moment, and secondly, we give away our power by expecting others to meet our needs.
We need to meet our own needs. Find a way to incorporate your essentials into each day!
What is one need you neglect? Is there any way you can find a way to meet it this week?