Reading is a huge part of my self-care routine; probably the only part of my self-care routine that I regularly stick to. Despite my love of horror and weirdness, I find huge comfort in immersing myself in a novel, and I feel like I’m constantly searching for the next book that will completely transport me (previous favorites are listed at the bottom of this post). I read before I go to sleep, meaning I don’t get distracted by my phone, and I also like to start my day reading sometimes. The to-be-read pile on my nightstand got so out of hand I had to turn it into a TBR shelf. But it’s vital to me that I always have a book, or my trusty Kindle handy. I can’t read prose on my phone, which is probably a good thing.
There are other ways I incorporate reading into my self-care routine. I recently started cross-stitching again, and I’m currently working on a beautiful Baba Yaga pattern from The Witchy Stitcher. I mostly do this while I’m watching TV (Hannibal, at the moment), but I also enjoy listening to audiobooks while I sew.
I recently started writing a journal entry every day. I got myself a lovely notebook, and a matching pen, and each day, I take a few minutes to just write about what’s been happening. Inevitably, this usually comes back to what I’ve been reading, or what books I’ve bought, but it’s nice to just get my nonsense thoughts down where I don’t have to worry about who is going to read/judge them.
I try to do yoga every day, which can have mixed results. This month I managed 18 practices, which I am very proud of. My favorite type of yoga is Yin, which involves holding poses for a few minutes. I find that sometimes (not always), I can manage to listen to an audiobook while still following along with the yoga practice. I appreciate that the point of Yin yoga is stillness and quiet, but sometimes my brain just needs something to grab onto before it runs off to anxiety-ville.
I also listen to audiobooks in the shower. My husband bought me an amazing waterproof speaker, and I’ve used various successful alternatives over the years. However, it’s probably not a good idea to listen to Psycho in the shower. I can recommend the fantastic audiobook of The Exorcist!
Now, I appreciate that some of the things I do are not healthy. I have a habit of placing an order on AbeBooks, Book Outlet, when I’m feeling sad. I do NOT recommend this. Although I have a wonderful collection of books, I feel very guilty for not having the time to read them all. And that makes me sad, and then I buy some more books!
I also recognize that sometimes I use audiobooks as background noise to drown out the voices in my head. This probably isn’t healthy as a long-term solution. I have found that meditation, particularly on Calm, has helped with recognizing negative or damaging thoughts, and being able to stop them, or at least acknowledge them. This is an on-going journey.
I am so glad that I’m able to find solace in reading; I find it genuinely baffling when I meet people who do not read for pleasure. If anyone is in need of a gateway book, please don’t hesitate to reach out, I’d love to help.
Finding a self-care routine that works for me has taken time, and no doubt will probably evolve some more over time. I also take medication, and have done for almost two years now. It was something I’d previously been hesitant of, but it genuinely changed my life. I also have the benefit of a wonderful career, a beautiful family, and so many amazing people in my life (if you’re reading this, you’re probably one of them, so thank you!). But my brain still feels broken sometimes, and that’s okay. I’m finding ways to deal with life’s little challenges. Like grief, it never goes away, it just slowly gets easier.
Anyway, as promised, here are my favorite engrossing books in recent memory. Enjoy!
- The Vet’s Daughter, by Barbara Comyns
- We Have Always Lived in the Castle, by Shirley Jackson
- The Bass Rock, by Evie Wyld
- Daddy’s Gone A-Hunting, by Penelope Mortimer
- Hamnet, by Maggie O’Farrell
- On Fragile Waves, by E. Lily Yu
- Flyaway, by Kathleen Jennings
- Things in Jars, by Jess Kidd