1. Call friends on the phone.
Take a break from clicking over to their page to post a video of a sloth waking up to actually call them and let your voices mingle for a while. It may seem archaic, even kind of inappropriate at first. (We all occasionally get that moment of, “Oh, shit, I’m actually expected to talk now? Yikes.”) But it’s a little bit of extra effort that allows for more natural conversation and shows someone else that they’re a priority to you. It’s insane how many different topics one can end up unexpectedly covering when you’re just having one of those old-school “talks” with no real objective or ulterior motive — we should all be getting into impromptu debates about Paula Deen with our friends through the spontaneity of a real conversation.
2. Take a longer-than-usual shower.
Obviously there are some people for whom this won’t work (limited hot water is a problem even the most conservative shower pressure can’t fix), but if you have an opportunity to take an extra-long shower, take it. Light a few candles, even. Pour some of that bath liquid that makes things smell good. Basically give yourself the luxury of a bath-type experience in a world where most of us don’t have actual bathtubs (and/or are not in a position to scrape of all the foot residue before washing up). The difference between a mediocre day and an awesome one can be as simple as allowing yourself to go into a vaguely catatonic state under a scalding-hot showerhead for a few minutes. We all owe ourselves the occasional pleasure.
3. Ask someone to teach you a recipe of theirs you really love.
Whether it’s your mother’s baked macaroni and cheese or your best friends appetizers that you always want to eat, like, 50 of before you even sit down for dinner, let them teach you. Get in touch with both the tactile aspect of making a meal, and the social benefits of being in the kitchen with someone. Have a nice glass of wine while you do it and make it into a fun little event. There is no reason that cooking can’t be a cool hangout activity for people other than bourgie couples in the newly-gentrified suburbs.
4. Learn when things are in season.
I spent the first 22 years of my life eating tomatoes that were all grainy and mushy and mealy and pale and watery and horrendous until I was like, “Woah, I live way too far north to be eating these bad boys in January. Woah.” It turns out that, with a little bit of effort, you can find out when is the best time to be eating everything (and even where you can buy them fresh from little market stalls). It turns out there is a season for everything that allows you to maximize the non-frozen, non-canned portion of your fruit and vegetable diet, and you will be doing yourself the ultimate favor by learning it. (And don’t worry, Hot Cheetos are always in season.)
5. Set aside a “treating yourself” portion of your budget.
At least 20 dollars a month should go to buying yourself a random cupcake whenever you want it, or splurging on a gaudy, poorly-made accessory from the checkout line of Forever 21. I don’t care how little money you are making — you dig around in your couch cushions until you find enough change to get yourself that bottle of sparkly nail polish.
6. Have a guilt-free TV marathon.
If you’ve never done yourself the favor of pre-buying a bunch of your favorite snacks and downloading an entire season of a show you’ve been meaning to watch with the full intent of sitting through 8 straight hours of television, you are missing out. When you open up those cabinets and remember that you’ve taken the trouble of getting all the things you crave the most when zoning out in front of a TV, it’s like Jesus himself is smiling at you from next to the cereal boxes. It’s basically like giving yourself an orgasm, only less messy, and you don’t have to touch a penis/vagina. There is no reason why we can’t dedicate an otherwise-mundane Sunday to the eating of York Peppermint Patties and the watching of Homeland. It’s the gift that everyone can enjoy, and everyone deserves.
7. Write a list of the things you are good at.
It’s so easy to dismiss activities like this and be like, “Do we really need to be more self-obsessed?” And I suppose, in theory, it’s a fairly narcissistic endeavor to actively list all the things that we do better than most people (or at least better than we thought we’d be able to). But it’s funny how much stuff we don’t actually remember in day-to-day life because we think it too insignificant to commit to paper. Humans are capable of being good at an enormous array of things — from excellent knife skills in the kitchen to being able to listen to someone when they talk — and it’s a shame that we don’t think of them more. If you were to make a list of all the things (important and incredibly minor) that you do with proficiency, you’d probably be shocked at how competent you are. (Yes, you can include your ability to use a minimum amount of toilet paper with maximum efficiency. Credit where credit is due.)
8. Tell someone how you feel about them.
There are so many people for whom we have this dense little knot in our stomachs that refuses to go away. Maybe we love them, maybe we want to forgive them, maybe we need to say sorry ourselves. In any case, no matter how hard it is to start the initial conversation, it’s always invariably a huge weight off your shoulders when you finally open up to them about how you feel. More than once in my life, I’ve written out a long letter to someone telling them something I’d been meaning to say for a long time. After a solid hour of torturing myself by hovering over the “send” button, I clicked it and hoped for the best. In one of the cases, it was someone whom I had been obsessed with from semi-afar for an egregiously long time, someone I finally worked up the courage to be honest with after months of hemming and hawing. Long story short, the answer was not the one I wanted. But I finally had an answer of any kind, and was able to close that chapter and stop being eaten from within by questions and possibilities that were never going to come true. Though it’s directed at someone else, being honest about your feelings can be the most profound kind of self-care. It’s being honest even when the truth is terrifying, and letting yourself breathe after holding everything in for so long.