While I have resolved not to return to my life as a digital nomad until I’m debt-free, I haven’t resolved not to hate the winters I must live through in the meantime.
As someone who has always struggled with mental health, the lack of proper sun and cold weather makes the already difficult task of being a writer that much harder.
In my less financially responsible years when I was chasing the sun, I never got depressed once. While I still had bad days, they were mostly circumstantial and not due to variable mental health.
Without the option of getting on a plane and flying south, I was reminded after a particularly rough week last week of the necessity of amping up my self-care routine in winter.
Of course, my self-care can’t be expensive. It can’t feel good in the moment while adding to my financial stress. That would be counterproductive.
My self-care also can’t be impulsive. It needs to be thought out and sustainable. Surviving winter is a long game. Whether with time or money, I don’t want to overspend the limited amounts I have of each and have to abandon what’s good for me early on.
So here are some ideas as to how to add some cheap self-care into your life, whether you’re trying to make it through a polar vortex or you’re just trying to keep your spirits up while creating financial stability as a writer:
Delete all your social media apps off your phone. Move the conversations that matter to you to a different app that’s just for messaging. Take a break from mindless scrolling or intentional comparing. Your brain doesn’t need that right now.
Listen to music that renews your will to live. Lie in bed and listen to a whole album. Or follow playlists that introduce you to fresh music when everything else fresh around you has either frozen to death or has been shipped in from somewhere that has sun.
Take a bath or extra long showers. Use things that smell good. Light palo santo. Steam the shit out of your soul. Then wrap yourself in a clean towel and take a nap.
Make eating a ritual. Even if it’s just one meal a day. Even if it’s not fancy. Let yourself chew slowly. Let yourself feel nourished. Give your body a moment to be the centre of attention. It’s doing its best to get you through this god awful time.
Move your body in whatever way doesn’t feel like an obligation. Go for a walk. Dance to your favourite tunes. Do some basic stretching with lots of pillows and blankets for support and warmth. Again, give your body some time to open up and be appreciated.
Call someone you can shoot the shit with. Now is not the time for people who are going to ask you how you’re going to solve your winter blues. It’s okay to just be in the slog and it’s okay to find some relief with someone who gets that and who will make you feel less alone.
Masturbate. As much or as little as feels good. Do it though. Even if it feels lacklustre, your body will get the message.
Write reminders to yourself about how things will feel lighter in spring. How everyone is feeling this heaviness and how what’s real now is not necessarily going to be real in a few months time. Put those notes places you can see them. Trust them even if you don’t believe them.
Read things that make you like the world and the people in it. Now is not the time to take on what is dark and painful. There’s enough of that available to you every morning when you wake up. So read poetry, fiction, anything that distracts you from the weight of winter.
Listen to podcasts about other writers and creators. Let them remind you that struggle is real and that everyone has rough patches. You’re probably doing better than you think you are. The work you’re doing is a long game. Stick with it.
Write. This can be hard because words can freeze in the winter. Still write though. Again, whatever you need to. However frivolous or outlandish or flat it feels. Write about the sun. Write about what you’ll do if your soul ever thaws out. Please write. Trust that showing up on the page is enough.
What other inexpensive self-care do you need right now?