By Maggie Reimherr
I recently came home from work one day to find Derek in a different state than his usual, vibrant self. He was quiet and withdrawn. I asked him what was wrong, and he said he was just tired. I continued to prod. Turns out, he’d had a minor allergic reaction to an apple and had taken a couple of Benadryl. He was a walking zombie, but it was medically induced. NBD. But it got me thinking. The quiet withdrawal? That must be what it’s like to live with me sometimes.
He’s a happy go lucky kind of guy. I’m a weight of the world on my shoulders kind of gal. That’s just how we roll. I tend to get in emotional ruts. However, seeing what it was like to be on the other side of me made me get serious about taking care of myself. When I’m intentional about self-care, I’m easier to be around.
Here are 11 ways I recommend to relax, unwind, and take care of yourself:
1. Wake up early to enjoy a cup of coffee and read a devotional.
Here’s the truth: when I’m spiritually healthy, I’m emotionally healthy. My best time with Jesus is spent during quiet mornings before Derek wakes up. I make my yuppy French press coffee, curl up on the sofa, and open the She Reads Truth app. I’ll read through the scripture and devotional for the day, jotting a few notes in my journal as I go. Then I pray. Starting my day with God gets my mind right for what lies ahead. The tough commute, tedious work, or stressful project is easier when I’m rooted in God’s truth.
When my routine’s interrupted, I tend to let this fall by the wayside. We spent a lot of time traveling in November and December, and it took me awhile to get back to a normal schedule. Luckily, I’m back in the swing of things with my 6:30 am alarm set.
2. Take a long bubble bath.
Baths are the best. Unfortunately, our bathtub situation in the apartment is not. The tub is tiny. The water doesn’t get hot enough for a good bath, and every ounce of this semi-hot water gets used up to fill up the tub once - refills don’t work. I’m looking forward to getting out of this apartment so I can enjoy my baths again. Derek even gave me a bath tray for Christmas that holds a glass of wine and a book. I’m ready to put it to good use.
3. Buy flowers for yourself.
This is a new one for me. I used to be terrible about not changing the flower water and just letting them die. No more! I’ll see what flowers are on sale at the grocery store when I’m doing my regular shopping for the week and buy myself a bouquet. It’s so nice to have something bright and cheery in the apartment.
I have a blog, so you know I’m a writer. I’ve been a journaler on and off my whole life. As a kid, I had diaries. As a teen, I had notebooks of angsty poems and songs I’d written. As a college kid, I treated Tumblr as my journal (very cringe-worthy). During the second half of my junior year of college, I stepped away from blasting my problems on the internet. Since then, I’ve filled up probably 10 journals with thoughts, prayers, notes, and whatever’s on my mind. The other day, I cracked open my journal and made a list of everything that was making me anxious. Then I reflected on it and prayed about it. I’m a big-purse gal, so I carry my journal with me everywhere.
5. Put on a really cute outfit, do your hair and makeup, get your nails done, etc.
The saying holds true: when you look good, you feel good. My friend Emma justifies her regular manicures by categorizing them in her self-care budget - pretty nails make her happy. You can set aside $20 every few weeks to do this - it’s worth it if it makes you feel good.
6. Get productive.
During my worst boughts with sadness, I kinda act like a sloth. I shirk cooking and cleaning and real activities and lie on the couch bingeing Netflix. This blog has been a huge source of productivity and creative output for me, and it’s really helping me combat ruts. Find your productive activity. Volunteering, exercising, cooking a new meal? Whatever it is, get up and go for it.
7. Make the bed.
TBH, I just feel better about life when the bed is made.
8. Plan something fun.
I was in a M-A-J-O-R rut over the summer, and it resulted in my booking a vacation to Mexico 9 months in advance. I’m a little dramatic and kind of an extremist. You don’t have to be like this. It can be as simple as planning a weekend outing to your favorite restaurant or brewery, and it gives you something exciting to look forward to.
9. Talk it out.
I’m really grateful to be married to a guy who’s no stranger to feelings and gets the need to process things externally. Whenever I’m feeling really bad, I vent/talk about it with Derek. Here’s a disclaimer though: I put a warning label on the subject before I start to vent. I label a topic as serious or no big deal, and we talk from there. If I don’t tell him that something’s NBD, he treats everything as a major issue and starts to grow weary of carrying the weight of my burdens. I never want to dump my problems on him, so the warning label works well for us.
10. Figure out what’s at the heart of your sadness and deal with it.
If you’re regularly crying about your job, maybe it’s time to find a new job. If you feel like a relationship isn’t going right, it’s probably time to have an honest conversation about it. If you’re feeling lonely, jump on Bumble BFF or Hey! Vina and start swiping your way to friendship. Or check out a Meetup in your area. Or go to church and join a Bible study. Once you figure out what the issue is, you can begin the process of coming out of your rut.
11. See a therapist or doctor if it’s more serious than a rut.
We’ve mentioned therapy before. I’ve done it, Derek’s done it, and we believe in it. If there’s a serious issue going on, the ways I listed above might just be a band-aid for your problems. And if you’re clinically depressed, self-care should include talking to your doctor and finding a medication that’s right for you to treat it.
So now we want to hear from you: how do you take care of yourself when you’re in a rut? Leave us a note in the comments or on social. I’d love to add more self-care tips to my routine!