Self-care is a hot button topic in a society that can emphasize productivity at the expense of mental wellness. It’s quickly become somewhat of an industry, with corporations selling all sorts of often superficial products to us under the umbrella of self-care.

What does self-care actually look like? The truth is, self-care is unique to the individuals caring for themselves. Sometimes self-care is all about creating space and freedom to do less in a busy world. Spending quiet time with a beloved pet, going for a grounding walk, or firing up a scented candle and watching Netflix are all ways to create room to breathe.

Our contributors shared some of their favourite ways to unwind and take care of themselves. Read on for some authentic self-care stories!

Miss Part 1 of our self-care picks? Find it here.

Cliff’s Pick: Netflix

When I’m feeling like I need a break from life, writing or reading for my dissertation, planning for or teaching a course at Fanshawe, or from the zillion other things that beg for my time, I delude myself into believing I’ll gain more time by watching Netflix.

The retro logo. Photo provided by Cliff Davidson.

While I don’t gain more time to do things, I do gain more time by clearing my head and shutting out those dark clouds of “37 things to do in the next 24 hours.” It’s a kind of mindful meditation and resetting of the brain. I’m not suggesting that certain shows don’t fill some of those spots in my brains that I’m trying to clear. Rather, now I have more to think about than writing and teaching.

That is, until a week or so later, once my partner and I semi-binge the last 3 or 4 episodes—but then there’s another show to watch.

Kerryann’s Pick: Scented Candles

Come away with me to an evening of dim lighting as we indulge our senses in the feel-good aromas of scented candlelight.

Call me your typical girly girl, but after a long day or week, nothing unwinds tense muscles and relieves memories of hard work like a room filled with glorious scents.

Can’t go wrong with a candlelit evening. Photo by Kerryann Thomas.

There is something oh so satisfying about candles that goes beyond smelling fantastic. Scented candles provide hope in that dark room as it flickers into greatness. Forgive my romantic self, but candles are a whole mood. From the caress of flames with love to the pampered whispers of relaxation, candles are my favourite self-care tip.

Whether you choose lavender, rose, eucalyptus or vanilla, indulge after a long week, and relax with your scented candle of choice. I guarantee it’s the best-kept self-care tip for all seasons.

Shannon’s Pick: Time with Pets and the Outdoors

My two favourite forms of self-care are curling up with a book while snuggling one of my animals or walking through the woods with my husband and dog.

Nature is always soothing. Photo by Shannon Stotlzlimin

If it’s been a tough day, petting one of my cats and hearing them purr is one of the most calming experiences I can have.

The other form of self-care that ties for my favourite depends on the weather. When it’s warm and dry, taking a walk through the woods is a good way to reground myself, and remember that it’s okay to take a moment to breathe.

Pat’s Pick: Taking in Local Comedy

Editor’s Note: This article was assembled before the COVID-19 pandemic – comedy shows might be on hold for now, but it is something to look forward to once we can safely gather!

Comedy is my life. I love watching it. I love doing it. So for my self-care choice, I chose the most casual comedy show that you can find in this city. Held at London Brewing Co-Op on the First Saturday of every month, this comedy show brings together the best comedians from the area.

Sunshine and laughter. Photo by Pat Tiffin.

In this ever-moving, often depressing world, there are some times that you have to remember that there is always a lighter side to this existence.

Emily’s Pick: Spending time with my dog

Tommy, my family’s golden retriever, is my furriest supporter. A super snuggly dog, he likes to lie by my feet on the couch, sleep in my lap, or stand beside me and put his paw on my arm like he’s asking for pats. He’s especially insistent on pats if he thinks I’m spending too much time playing Pokemon or looking at memes on my phone and not enough time paying attention to him.

Imagine yourself hugging this dog. Photo by Emily Stewart.

Whether we’re people watching through the window, playing catch, or sitting down to watch reality TV together, Tommy’s great company. You could say he’s helped me a lot when life gets “ruff.”

Whichever types of self-care appeal to you, remember that what is fundamentally important is creating time for yourself! Take a walk, light a candle, use a bath bomb – but do it with the goal of putting aside everything else during that time. Self-care time is always valuable time.

Also, you are not weak if you need help getting to a place where self-care is manageable. You can get connected to mental health services by calling the CMHA Middlesex Reach Out service at 1-866-933-2023 or using their webchat service.


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