“Self-care” has become a loaded term in mainstream culture today, and often calls to mind things like bubble baths, spa days, and shopping trips—ways to allegedly decrease your stress by taking a break from it all or indulging in guilty pleasures. But for folks who are dealing with trauma and/or oppression—such as trans and non-binary survivors of sexual violence—mainstream rhetoric around self-care can feel completely out of touch with the reality of our lives.
Hannah Daisy, a British artist and occupational therapist who is on Instagram under the handle @makedaisychains, turned mainstream mythology about self-care on its head by making fabulous illustrated medals for small victories that she calls “boring self-care,” starting with a boring self-care award for “picking my underwear up off the floor.”
“I started noticing that online, self-care was talked about in a very different way, often only about nice lovely things you can do for yourself, like a bubble bath, a massage, buying nice crystals, etc.,” she says. “In my profession, we talk about self-care involving a much wider range of ‘occupations’ or things you have to do every day. For example, doing the dishes, washing, dressing, housework and laundry.”
For many of us, just getting out of bed can be a momentous challenge, much less keeping up with basic everyday tasks like chores, eating three meals, opening mail, and paying bills. Being a survivor of sexual violence is linked with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety, all of which can make it more difficult for a person to accomplish daily activities.
It’s easy to feel ashamed when we can’t accomplish basic tasks, or when doing one seemingly simple task exhausts us. It’s also super common for that sort of shame to send a person into a spiral where such tasks feel like a bigger and bigger hurdle, but it’s not your fault if PTSD, depression, or anxiety are serving as a block.
Hannah Daisy’s illustrations remind us not only that something as simple as taking a shower or changing the bed sheets can have a hugely positive effect on our mental health and well-being, but also that these small tasks deserve to be celebrated.
“There is worth in doing boring tasks and boring tasks can be an act of caring for yourself,” says Daisy. “If you live with chronic illness or mental health problems and you managed to get up and get dressed, this is worth celebrating.”
So what does “boring self-care” look like for you? Make a list of boring self-care things that you can do for yourself, and celebrate and reward yourself when you accomplish something on the list. Check out the hashtag #boringselfcare for ideas and to connect with the hundreds of people that Hannah Daisy’s concept has resonated with. And if you find yourself feeling stuck, check out these four tips for how to get out of bed (or accomplish any other boring self-care act) when it’s particularly hard to do so.