-warning, this blog includes swear words, turn back if you’re under 18 or faint of heart-

Now, I’ve included the quote marks in the title to demonstrate that I am using that term with a bit of chagrin. ‘Self care’ is 2019/20 word for doing the shit you need to do to keep yourself alive as a functioning adult. This doesn’t mean it’s any less hard to do when you’re going through a period of stress, or are busier than usual, or have other priorities like your kid, a partner, a hobby or job but I’m just not a fan of the word.

A colleague of mine once told me ‘if you want a job done quickly and efficiently, give it to a lazy person’ – it’s me, I’m the lazy person. If there’s a ‘hack’ way I get something tedious done faster, I will find it and use it, no questions asked.

Also, unlike some bullshit lists like this, I offer you a judgment free, practical way to cope with ‘adulting’ (sorry gen z I know you hate that word). This isn’t about ‘living your best life’ or ‘optimising your day’ or adding any unnecessary shame or judgment, this is about just getting through the fucking day in the best shape you’re capable of right now.

Caveat- I am a single adult, without kids and I don’t have any mental health conditions or disabilities- so I will freely admit some of these will not be 100% for everyone as they are based on my experience, or the experience of the people close to me who’re largely in the same boat.

  1. 1/2 hours of adulting time = 3/4 hours of freedom
    -no, hear me out, say you get home at 6 and straight away have a quick little hoover, deal with that washing and bung on some dinner. BAM, half an hour of adulting time, leads you to chill time.

    This is followed by adulting part 2, somewhere around 9:30 ish (depends how early you go to bed)- shower and get shit prepped for future morning you who will baffled and confused. Then freedom part 2, pre sleepy time can begin.

  2. Do things by routine
    – I know you’re not a five year old but if you’re finding basic day-to-day care tasks a little harder, setting a (REALISTIC) routine will help you. Brain can take a backseat, muscle memory will do the rest.

    Tell yourself that the dishwasher goes on 8, so at 7:45 you go in kitchen, bung shit in dishwasher (oh, by the way, now you’re in kitchen, give surfaces a wipe, sweep if you’re feeling fancy) – just like that, kitchen gets done (shhh I know it’s not that easy but it’s about baby steps).

    For me, my room and clothes on my floor was my big, cannot fucking deal with, issue. Always, it would mount up until it was 4 hour job+ tidying it, which is by then too big of a job and so on and so forth. So, all I changed was that I put the clothes away before shower and bed. I allowed myself to live my best messy life going out the door but each evening I put them away. Once this was routine, it was easier to add an extra, like sweep while I’m at it. And just like that, my room is longer messy.

    This goes for bigger tasks i.e. alternate Sundays is the day you change your bedding- put it in your phone calendar, make it a routine (but do you see the realistic caveat of not tasking yourself to do it weekly…?). Or 31st of the month you’ll clean the oven etc etc

  3. Apps- use all the apps
    – I am a product of my generation and I am not afraid to use an app to remind me to do things.

    Use your calendar, use Siri/ Alexa etc, use alarms, use to do list apps and reminder list apps. Don’t be afraid to shop around. Use fitness and health apps to turn your phone into a nagging mother – you can get apps that remind you to drink water, that remind you when to go to sleep, to remind you to eat, to exercise- there’s so much out there.

    (important side note, if these reminders will exacerbate any anxieties, or make you feel like a failure if you don’t hit goals, then this tip is not for you- either try going for smaller goals, or try the equivalent for you that is adapted to you’re happiest/easiest way to do it)

  4. Over scheduler by nature? Schedule time off
    -Like to make yourself to do lists and schedules? Or are you the type prone to burn out? Plan ‘time off’, plan gormless telly time, plan wasting time on facebook, plan time to read. If it’s on the list then you gotta do it.

    – on the reverse, procrastinator who gives themselves too much time off? Set time limits for yourself like you’re a child (oh, I know, there’s no real consequence if you don’t follow through- except maybe living in a shit hole or being tired the next day…)

    -guard this time like it’s precious, this is guilt free, pre-planned fun time.

  5. Just do it’
    -do the tiny thing before it becomes a bigger one.

    clear up the coffee splash now before it becomes a ground in sticky mess, pick up that top now, clean that pan instead of ‘soaking’ it, just do it now. It will be a bigger job later. Do the tiny, tedious thing now and it will pay off. Give future you some love. Future you will thank you.

  6. Lay stuff out ready
    – tomorrow’s outfit, tomorrow’s lunch, work/school bag with everything in it. Once again, do future you a favour.

    -this can apply to other care tasks when you’re tired. Showering? Put each thing -shampoo, soap, body wash- in a line and do it in that order, put away each item as you use it. Cooking? Same same. Cleaning? Same same again.

  7. Short workouts are fine
    – oh the guilt about exercising, who needs that shit when you’re up against it.

    But if you want to get that little buzz, that little sense of achievement (if you’re that type of person), or get your blood pumping a little- then, the big secret is- ANYTHING GOES. It all counts. Two min walk up your road? ‘Counts’. 15 min stretchy yoga thing on youtube? ‘Counts’. Anything you do can be your exercise.

    Ignore any advice that tells you that you ‘should’ be doing XYZ a day otherwise YOU’RE GUNNA DIE. It’s bullshit. A little something, no matter what, is always an achievement. I will not deny to you the benefits, both to your mental and physical health of incorporating a little exercise into your daily routine but I’m just saying, stop placing imaginary limits and guilt. It makes it a punishment and something that supposed to make you feel healthy and good, should only ever be associated with that and not punishment and baggage.

  8. You’re basically a complicated plant
    go outside, at least once a day, during daylight if you can. Drink your coffee standing in your open back door if you have to. (this is a very 2020 problem)

    drink water. If you’re a grown arse adult who doesn’t like the taste of water, squash is fine, flavoured water is fine (although, the sugary ones, or chemically pretend sugar ones, may be a bit counter productive but one hurdle at a time!)

  9. Get your vitamins, proteins etc whatever way you can
    – Doesn’t matter how. Fresh fruit and veg is expensive and frozen isn’t practical if you can’t store it. Same goes for certain meats and meat alternatives.

    Just make sure you’re filling that gap some how. Take vitamins, use protein powders, drink smoothies (if you can afford them), eat that high fibre cereal bar. The ‘how’ doesn’t matter because it’ll be better than not at all.

    For example, when my job stress was at its highest, I had children’s chewable multi vitamins, that I would put on top of my lunch/ reusable coffee mug and chew whilst walking to the bus stop. I keep forgetting them otherwise and I was so disorganised in the morning that I didn’t have time to take ‘grown up’ ones with water and I didn’t want to carry rattling pill bottles in my bag (adult chewable vits are hella expensive btw so children’s were the all round practical solution).

  10. Ready meals
    -They get demonised and looked down on but I promise you, if the alternative is nutrition-less crap, or nothing at all, or take out, then hell-yes, pre-made ready meals are fine! They can be frozen, refrigerated, you can even get cupboard ones (like the Blue dragon meal kits).

    – this a great option if you’re low on energy, or time, or literally just don’t really know how to cook. Depending on where you shop they can be cheap- although the ‘healthier’ ones are pricier.

I have no idea how helpful you’ll find this. I am one of those types prone to burn out and I have had a run of not-so-great jobs with very little work-life balance. Things spun out of control and I just never seemed to get basic shit done, so I though I’d share some, admittedly, fairly obsessive ways I stopped the downward spiral into further chaos.

Disclaimer- I am not a nutritionist, a mental health professional, a doctor or anything else useful- I studied English and Creative writing. These are just some handy tips from someone who is not naturally organised, or naturally good at taking care of herself. Please don’t hesitate to speak to an actual professional, if you’re finding things really hard.

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