Sep 16

10 Self-Care Strategies for When the Universe Is Conspiring Against You

Self-care strategies are important because there are so many ways that everyday life wants to ruin your day. Even when you do everything you possibly can to ensure you have a good day, that doesn’t mean that the universe isn’t trying to ruin it.

10 self-care strategies for when the universe is conspiring against you

I’ve been using these self-care strategies lately for the times when other people’s chaos tries to get me down, or when I find myself in a situation that’s completely out of my control. Granted, none of these self-care strategies fix any of the external problems, but they do make it easier to deal with the problems. So today I thought I’d share my 10 self-care strategies for when the universe is conspiring against you.

10 Self-Care Strategies for When the Universe is Conspiring Against You Click To Tweet

001: Move.

I am by no means an athlete, and if you try to convince me to sign up for CrossFit, I’m gonna roll my eyes so far back in my head that my retinas will detach. Instead, I think everyone should focus on a workout that they enjoy, and stick to that. There are far too many terrible things we have to do in the day without adding another thing you don’t want to do to the list. For me, my favorite way to move is going to yoga class, or watching TV on the treadmill or elliptical. But never underestimate the power of getting up from your desk and just walking around for a few minutes. Seriously. It feels good.

002: Read.

I cannot express the joy I feel when I unplug from everything and cuddle up with a book. I love shutting out everything else, and getting absorbed in a completely different world for a while. And when I’m done, I always have that feeling of renewal because it’s like I’ve taken a break from life for a while.

003: Write.

I used to be in the practice of journaling every morning, and it was seriously the most mind clearing thing I have ever done. While I no longer do it religiously like I once did, I always reach for a pen when I need to get my head right.

004: Eat.

For the longest time, I would feed myself whatever garbage I was craving, and that was fine until about a few years ago. The older I get, the harder it is to eat junk. In fact, junk food now gives me hangover-like symptoms. (Aging is a joy.) So, now, to take care of myself, I’m eating more fruit and leafy greens. And even though I would love a pile of cheese fries or a gallon of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream at all times, I know I can’t have that and still be a productive person. A healthy meal goes a long way when it comes to my mood and overall well-being.

005: Primp.

Weird thing I’ve been into lately: moisturizing my cuticles and nails. I’ve noticed that my nails are super strong, and my cuticles no longer look like they were chewed off by a pack of wild dogs. And while how my nails look isn’t that important, it is important that I’m taking some time to do something for me that makes me happy.

006: Work.

There’s just something about scratching something off your to do list that’s good for the soul. I’m addicted to getting stuff done before noon, because it feels so good to know that I have the rest of the day to not stress about the things that I haven’t done. Sure, I forget this sometimes and procrastinate the day away. But I’m trying remind myself on those mornings when I want to slack how utterly terrible I will feel at the end of the day. And that tends to keep me in line.

007: Rest.

It’s taken me a long time to realize that resting is not scrolling through Instagram or reading all the tweets from the past 2 hours. Sure, I’m generally laying down when I do those things, but I’m not letting my mind have a break when it needs it. Instead, I’ve recently become a fan of the power nap. It’s a great way to take 20 minutes to recharge, and I wake up ready to go. And if I’m not feeling the nap that day, I like to rest by stepping out into the backyard with Rosie. We like to sit in chairs on the back porch and just watch the squirrels jump from tree to tree.

008: Listen.

Over the summer while I worked with the Institute of Reading Development, my record player was piled under tons of books. Now that everything is all cleaned up, I’ve been listening to a few special edition 45s from The Gaslight Anthem, and it’s made me fall back in love with just sitting and listening to music. I’ve even taken this into my work life. When people or technology issues get tough, I pick a playlist on my phone, and play it through my bluetooth speaker. Sure, it doesn’t fix the problem, but it calms me down enough to deal with it.

It doesn't fix the problem, but it calms me down enough to deal with it. Click To Tweet

009: Laugh.

This is perhaps one of the most narcissistic things I do, but I feel I should share it with you so you can also enjoy this silly tactic. I like to think of funny things I’ve said or done, because it makes me laugh out loud. I am my own biggest fan, and I’m sure I’m the only one who can fully appreciate my jokes. And thinking about my old jokes invariably leads into thinking about all the great jokes I will tell in the future, which is a great way to cheer up. Now, you don’t have to sit around and bask in your own comedic glory, but you absolutely should take some time to laugh. So, whatever makes you giggle, go for it.

010: Bond.

Whether I’m looking into Rosie’s eyes while I scratch her ears, or I’m talking about my day with Chris, I like to spend one-on-one time with people (yeah, Rosie’s a people) I love. And I think the one-on-one is important. No one bonds with a large group of people all at the same time.


What about you? What are your self-care strategies for when the universe is conspiring against you?

May 16

Speaking Directly: A Thing I Didn’t Know I Sucked At

I never really thought about speaking directly until it was brought to my attention how much I tend to speak indirectly.

Speaking Directly: A Thing I Didn't Know I Sucked At

For the past two weeks I’ve been in training for a position as a summer teacher with the Institute of Reading Development. The number one goal of the Institute is to help students develop a lifelong love of reading, so naturally, this is the most up my alley a thing could possibly be.

(That last sentence is really stressful. I don’t know why I phrased it that way, and I probably could’ve edited it. My stylistic intentions are errors in judgement. So here we are.)

Each day, we do some independent study with the lesson plans, training manual, and the actual novels and nonfiction books we’ll be teaching. Then, we go into small groups and model giving the lesson. It’s a really helpful thing to get feedback from fellow teachers. Also, I’m picking up little things here and there that I want to add into my teaching routine at OU. These aren’t proprietary things by any means, rather just little things that any teacher should probably do.

In addition to now thinking of my lesson plans as blocks of time rather than as specific activities that must be done, I’m learning to frame my lectures and directions to my students so that it outlines a clear path for them as learners. Oh, and I’m learning to speak directly.

Or rather, I’m consistently failing at speaking directly.

I'm consistently failing at speaking directly. Click To Tweet

When I say “speaking directly,” I mean not couching everything I say with some passive modifier. Words like just, sorta, kinda, and probably are my sweet spot. I don’t just use them conversationally. I use them in writing, primarily because I have a very conversational writing style that I’ve been working to develop over the past 6 or so years. I do not write directly. And since writing is my favorite way to communicate, a lot of the weird quirks and style choices I make in my writing bleeds into my conversation.

This means when I’m giving a lesson, I say those words. So when I’m giving my lectures, a lot of the things I say are filled with those words.

But even worse is my tendency to ask for things. So, while I’m modeling a lesson plan, I’ll say something like “Can I get a volunteer to answer this one?”

I’m the teacher. Of course I can get a volunteer. I don’t need to give them this option. I need to say “I want a volunteer to answer this one.” Or even better — I need to volun-tell someone to answer.

I’m not sure where this comes from, but I think it may be leftover from my old days as a 20-something people pleaser. Now that I’m 30, I need to remember that I no longer have to care what people think of me, and if they don’t like my directness, they can sit on it, Potsie.

The worst part of having other teachers critique my teaching models is realizing how much I’ve been doing that in the classroom at my full-time job. It makes me cringe to think about it. I’m almost positive my students have never noticed it, but thinking about how many times I’ve indirectly stated a direction to my students makes me mad.

(This is like when you realize that you’ve been wearing something that you thought was super cute only to find that it’s completely out of style. This is why I only wear very simple clothing items, and why I now only speak directly in the classroom.)

So now as we go through our lesson models, I catch myself being indirect and I try to correct it. Each time I hear myself saying “can I” my teeth grind. I will take this out of my everyday speech even if it means that I have to grunt and point like a caveman.

To some, this may not be a big deal. But to me, speaking directly is important because I want to be clear. I want my words to be interpreted correctly. And I want to speak in a way that garners respect. Perhaps the hardest thing about teaching a group of college students is conveying to them how they are obligated to treat you the same as they would treat the dean of the college. This is especially hard when you are the same age as their sibling.

And then, once I finally master speaking directly, I will work on not filling silences with um, okay, or the question “does that make sense?”

Public speaking is so effing hard, you guys.

Public speaking is so effing hard, you guys. Click To Tweet