SOS Self-Care: Self-Care When You’re Barely Surviving
When you’re barely able to keep your head above water, how can you possibly find time for self-care?
When life is running smoothly, it’s easy to find the time and interest for self-care. But what about when life isn’t so smooth? When you’re overworked, grieving, stressed to the max or otherwise barely surviving, how can you find the time and interest for self-care?
I think you need to reevaluate your idea of self-care in these times. Instead of your typical self-care routine, you should instead give yourself some SOS self-care.
What is SOS self-care?
SOS self-care is Save Our Self self-care. It’s the self-care that you can engage in immediately when you’re desperate. It’s the self-care you can do when you have no time, no money, and maybe even no energy for self-care.
SOS self-care is the self-care you do when you drop everything because you realize that you are about to explode, collapse, or simply that you’re running on empty and need to do something for yourself right now.
Save Our Self self-care is simple, almost always free, and often very short and quick.
Why do we need SOS self-care?
Other forms of self-care are great when we have time, energy, extra cash, or just plain feel up to doing them.
When life has become about survival, though, we can’t always rely on having the time, energy, or cash. When we feel like we’re drowning, when we’re working two or even three jobs, raising kids, grieving the loss of a loved one or a divorce, self-care feels overwhelming or even indulgent. When we can’t find the money to pay the rent, we don’t want to spend any cash on a massage. When we’re mourning the death of a parent or sibling, eating healthy or taking a bubble bath isn’t going to help and probably won’t even cross our radar.
In those instances, when we’re clinging to life and hoping we don’t lose our grip and our sanity, we need self-care that’s easy, fast, and simple. We need something to turn to that won’t require a lot of effort, thinking, or energy.
We need things we can do no matter where we are or what’s going on around us.
What does SOS self-care look like?
SOS self-care can be a big deal if you need it to be. If you’re desperate enough, SOS self-care can look like taking a day, weekend, or week off to rest and recover from everything that’s going on.
Most of the time, though, SOS self-care is going to be relatively short and to the point.
SOS self-care can look like:
· Stop and take slow, deep breaths for 1–5 minutes
· Journal about what’s happening right now
· Prepare and drink a cup of hot tea (chamomile, lavender, fennel and valerian teas are all excellent for relaxation, but any tea will do)
· Call a friend for a quick chat
· Splash some cool water on your face, over your wrists, or on the back of your neck
· Press the meaty part of your hand between the thumb and index finger, inner and outer wrists, and/or the outside lower corner of your thumbnail to relieve tension in your hands
· Choose a small object and focus on as many details about it as possible: shape, size, smell, texture, weight, temperature, special features, etc.
· Pop a breath mint or a piece of gum and focus on its details: flavor, shape, texture, temperature, and anything else you notice
· Crank up a favorite song and dance
· Take a short walk or run (even if it’s just around the parking lot)
· Do some easy stretches or yoga
· Recite some affirmations to yourself (preferably ones you’ve already found/created)
· Do a guided imagery meditation
· Create playlists of music for calming, energizing, etc., then listen to them as needed
· Keep a bottle of lavender essential oil handy and take a deep inhale when you feel stressed
· Find something with an aroma that reminds you of something good — your grandma’s perfume, your father’s pipe, a campfire, etc. Keep this with you and smell it when you need to
· Pray if that’s part of your belief system
· Read a book
· Step outside, sit down, and watch the sky
These are all things that won’t cost you any money, and can be done no matter where you are. They can all also be done in 10 minutes or less. In fact, most can be done in less than five minutes, if that’s all you have.
Keep your list handy
Whether you choose to use the list I gave you here, or to create your own list of ideas, keep a list of SOS self-care ideas at hand. Whenever you feel desperate, overwhelmed, or like you’re going to totally lose it, pull out the list, choose an activity and do it.
It may not make everything 100% better, but it can at least take the edge off.