Over the years, I have developed my own morning and evening routines, based on what I need and want to do. I do not try to do what other people need or want to do in these routines anymore.
For example, I am not a morning person. I have never been a morning person. I thought I would eventually develop morning personitis as I got older, but that has not happened and seems to show no evidence of happening. So I have a pretty simple morning routine.
Self-care can be boring, unpleasant, and sometimes painful. This list reflects that. But it’s what works and keeps me going.
- Brush my teeth.
- This one seems obvious, but it can also feel hard when I wake up fatigued and sore, and especially so when I have canker sores. So I have to do it and get it out of the way.
- Take my medication.
- Doing this first with brushing my teeth means I won’t forget later.
- Make tea.
- Tea makes me happy. It doesn’t necessarily wake me up, but it gives me a task to start with, helps me hydrate first thing in the morning, and relaxes me. Even in the summer, I like to make and drink hot tea. Heat is a key pain reliever and relaxer for me.
- Take care of my skin.
- While my tea is brewing, I try to take care of my skin overall. I get dry skin a lot, especially in the winter, and I also overwash my hands because of my germophobia (which is part of my OCD), so my hands are chronically dry as well. On top of that, I deal with eczema and adult acne, so I have special eczema lotion. Having a part of my routine where I just focus on moisturizing my body feels luxurious and puts me in touch with my body in a way that isn’t about pain but helping it to feel better. In this way, I work with, instead of against, my body.
- I also do my morning face care routine. I put on a serum for acne, a moisturizer, and then sunscreen. I don’t love wearing sunscreen: I don’t love the smell, the feel (no matter how ungreasy the sunscreen advertises itself), or the way sometimes it pills on my skin no matter how much I rub it in. But I still do it because having had several moles removed I take it seriously now.
- I often wake up fatigued and morning is the hardest part of my day. Therefore, I give myself permission to lie down again after doing all or part of my routine before moving on to tasks or even making my meal and eating. This is super key. Otherwise, I can use up all my morning energy before I’ve even really gotten started. I often read or catch up on easy email during this period.
- Brush my teeth.
- Again, I have to make myself do this especially when I feel low energy at the end of the day.
- Take my medications.
- I take my most important medications at night because I know that I won’t ever forget. Additionally, some medications have side effects and they are easier to deal with at night when I’m going to sleep.
- Sometimes I have to add melatonin or anxiety meds to help me fall asleep. I have struggled for a long time with insomnia despite how fatigued I feel often, I frequently can’t get sleepy at night. I have a half-hearted relationship with melatonin: often it helps me get to sleep but not stay asleep. I’ll fall asleep for a few hours but then wake up completely wired a few hours later.
- Lately, I’m trying sustained-release melatonin which releases some melatonin right away and then steadily over the night so that I can stay asleep. I haven’t tried it enough to know how effective it is for me, but I will update once I can judge that.
- My nighttime skincare regime.
- I like this part of my regime because it makes me feel like I’m taking charge of my health and doing self-care that’s not strictly necessary but will make me feel better in the long run. I clean my face and put on moisturizer.
- I’ve started dry-brushing recently, partly for the lymphatic drainage. Apparently, we don’t have a lot of natural drainage in our legs and extremities. I’ve been having a lot of numbness in my extremities because of my high platelet count and low iron and it helps a bit.
- And honestly dry brushing also helps with the itchiness I constantly get on my legs (not the same as eczema—I avoid dry brushing any flare-ups). I love having a legitimate reason to rub down my legs with a natural fiber brush.
- In the winter, if my legs are dry I will also add a vitamin E oil. I love Trader Joe’s oil (and it helps that it’s cheap enough I can buy as much as I need for the long winters!). I struggle with lotions because they’re often cold and I can’t stand that much chill in the winter and oil is easy to use to cover large parts of my legs.
- I fill my diffuser with water and essential oils.
- I am highly sensitive to bad smells, especially smoke (such as from cigarettes). They trigger headaches and migraines. We live in a large apartment building and we can easily get funny and unpleasant smells through the walls or air ducts. Sometimes, as a result of my sensitivity, they can even wake me up.
- So I try to always set the diffuser with something pleasant and relaxing like lavender and lemongrass. It’s similar to my white noise machine—having a blanket noise or smell prevents bad and disturbing smells or noises from disturbing me in the middle of the night or when I’m trying to fall asleep.
- I can never immediately fall asleep at night partly because my brain is too busy thinking about what I need to do tomorrow and if I did everything I needed to do today. I need a buffer between the day and sleep. Reading is my buffer.
- I always read fiction and generally I try to avoid anything too suspenseful because that can cause me to read much more than I planned to or wanted to and cut into my sleep. This is a real problem I’ve struggled with over time. As a result, I have a bunch of books I read or reread especially at bedtime to help me relax into sleep.