Self care was a buzzword for 2017 with a lot of articles floating around on social media talking about ways to look after yourself ranging from tips on meditation to weekly manicures. Self care has both emotional and medical aspects to it. Self care is ultimately about making time to put yourself first. However, there is no one-size fits all self-care routine. In the end, you have to think about what you like doing, what you are comfortable doing, and what you can afford. I spent 2017 curbing my book buying and it is something that I am trying to extend to other aspects of my life. It is extremely easy to get caught up in the idea that self care means spending money on things you hope will make you happy (but deep down you know it won’t).
When I think about self-care I remove happiness from the discussion. In a Philosophy of Walking, Frédéric Gros talks about our misguided obsession with happiness. Happiness, describes Gros, is a fleeting emotion. It is something designed not to last. It contains elements of surprise and is finite. The happiness you felt when you received that puppy is a one-off thing. Now, you might think that you are happy every time you spend time with your dog, but I would argue that you are confusing happiness with joy. Gros describes joy as a sustainable emotion. It is something you can take with you and is tied with feelings of contentment and peace and is not a single moment. Joy is an everlasting emotion and whilst happiness can spark a life long experience of joy, the two are not the same.
So why all this talk about joy vs. happiness? When you want to do self-care, it is important to think about what brings you joy, rather than happiness. The joy of cultivating plants or learning a skill is not the same as a fleeting moment of happiness when you buy that skirt on sale. I do not mean that you should feel bad about buying things, nor do I believe that buying things is bad, but you should think about self care as a life long project, one that requires a lot of joy and a little bit of happiness.
I wanted to give some suggestions for ways to self-care that do not cost an arm and a leg, that can bring you sustained joy, and that cost nothing or little.
Caring for plants is a simple way to bring joy into your life. Seeds can cost sometimes less than a few dollars and you can also get already developed plants for good prices. Plants usually only need a bit of sunlight (sometimes hardly any!) and some good old H2O. What I love about keeping and growing plants is seeing them change and grow throughout the year and the seasons. If you get the right ones, they can also improve your air quality in your home.
Whilst self-care is often centred on the self, sometimes loving and caring for something else, like a plant, can bring us joy. Giving, caring, and nurturing are as much about the self as it is about others. If you are worried about killing your plants, there are some pretty hardy succulents and ferns that you can get which require hardly any water, sunlight, or daily affection.
FREE PLACES TO SOCIALISE
Free places to socialise is a great way to meet new people, get access to free local resources, and most importantly help you self-care. The library is a great place to start. Most local libraries offer free membership, however, if you are like me in Switzerland you will have to pay a yearly fee. Although 20CHF for all the books I want in a year is not such a bad thing.
Libraries also offer free wi-fi, computer access, and courses. My local library has language meet ups for French, German, Arabic, Korean, and Swiss German just to name a few! There are also mother’s groups and reading groups for adults and children.
FREE WAYS TO READ AND SWAP BOOKS
Other than libraries there are some pretty awesome ways that you can still get your hands on books if you do not have a library near you. Online groups like www.meetup.com have thousands of groups for people including reading circles, book swaps, and study groups (there is a group for everything though! Seriously, check it out!).
Another way to share, read, and swap books is through public book shelves. They have been popping up all over the place and are a great way to swap and share books. There are usually some rules: no textbooks, porn, or hate speech. They should usually be fiction or nonfiction works. Even if you cannot find a public book shelf like this in your neighbourhood, you can also check out second-hand stores and second-hand books stores because some of these places will give you store credit when you bring in books to swap.
MAKE SOMETHING (CHEAP ‘N EASY)
The last thing you can try for self-care is to make something. There are so many cheap and easy DIY things you can find. You can use your library card to find books or their free wi-fi to check out Pinterest for ideas. One thing that I like to do is make rose water that I use as a face toner. I have really sensitive skin and I am SOOOO over buying products that do not work, are expensive, and/or give me rashes or problems. So I started to make my own rose water toner. I buy rose petals (I get a bag of 400g for about 4CHF) and I boil them in water. I do not use alcohol because it dries out my skin, but this is something you can put in if you want. This has saved me so much money and it makes me feel good to know that I am taking care of myself (and my skin), saving money, and investing in myself.
With that said and done, these are some of my tips for self-care with a bit of a bookish emphasis. What are the ways that you look after yourself? As always, share the reading love.