This morning I got a hair cut. Luckily, my stylist owns her salon and she only takes one appointment at a time. Aside from a few months at the start of the pandemic, she’s been open for business. I am thankful for both of our sakes. She needs to have income from her business and I – well, I need to have regular hair cuts. It’s the least I can do for myself during this time.
February 2020 was the last time I had a hair cut and color. Being a dark brunette in middle age, I noticed I was going gray. I knew that every six weeks, I needed to have color put on my hair or else I’d get a line of gray showing up like a ruler on my head. But, not being able to get in for an appointment early on in the pandemic, allowed me to decide to just “go gray.” So, since that time, I’ve been letting my hair become its natural color. To help the transition, I’ve had it highlighted twice. Once in May 2020, and once this fall, I think in September. I probably won’t have to do that again. The gray is now blending well with both my natural dark brown locks as well as the highlighted ends. Yes, you can tell I haven’t colored my hair. But, since I’ve been getting regular cuts to help to keep it in shape and given that there is not a stark line of demarcation, I think it looks fine. But, most of that is the result of a good regular hair cut, the gift I gave myself this morning – even if it meant traveling 15 minutes in subzero weather.
Self-care during times like these is so important. Everyone is stressed – even though the reasons might differ. Some are stressed due to financial reasons. Some are dealing with the loss of loved ones. Some are stressed due to having to work and teach and learn at home. Some are stressed due to going to the office or school to work. Some are stressed as the result of not having a true vacation. Some are stressed due to following all the “rules” of the pandemic. And, some are stressed because others choose to not follow the rules. Anyway you cut it, it is a stressful time in our collective history. Self-care, no matter how small the act, can help to reduce stress.
Besides a regular hair cut, there are other self-care activities I regularly perform, even if I don’t always acknowledge that is what they are. These include my morning cut of tea, followed by my mid-morning latte, and an early evening glass of wine. These beverages, especially the warm ones, are stress reducers for me. As I hold a mug in my hand, the warmth spreads over my skin and envelopes me with a sense of comfort. And, the glass of wine with dinner? Well, if that helps keep my anxiety at bay, so be it.
Believe it our not, my well developed habit of writing daily is also part of my self-care. Writing helps to clear my mind of concerns or wonderments or, plain and simple, just allows me to think I’m being heard. It allows me to express myself in ways that I might not be able to do so verbally. Even if my writing never progresses from where it is now, I am caring for myself by continuing my writing habit.
Some of my other self care activities include walking weekly with a friend. We even did this yesterday, in the single digit temperatures of a sunny afternoon. Believe it or not, it was the warmest it’s been in almost a week! Again, these walks are more about being heard, and being a good listener – both skills that need practice to be retained well beyond the pandemic.
Food always offers some comfort as well. Whether it is a treat like the licorice I wrote about yesterday, or the warm pretzel I had today – sent as a gift from my sister in law, food often offers comfort.
So, while we are still fighting this germ-warfare, please remember to take a few minutes a day for yourself. You’ll be glad you did. For if you don’t take care of yourself, it becomes all that much harder to care for those around you – be it family, students, friends, or even a stranger you pass on the street.