No Days Off

This week we’re supposed to write about self-care, relaxation, and the importance of not writing. Well, I spend a lot of time not writing. More than I should. Often, I’m procrastinating – thinking, oh I’ll just do this one thing… okay 5 things… okay how the hell is it 5pm and I haven’t written a word today??

But I don’t spend a lot of time truly relaxing and taking care of myself. I’m usually bouncing from one item on my to-do list to the next, or thinking about new things I should add to my to-do list. It’s exhausting, and it’s something I’m hoping to work on in 2019.

Here are the things I’ve found that actually relax me, when I take the time to do them:

  • Watching ASMR, meditation, or other relaxing videos on YouTube. My current favorites are tarot reading videos (especially the ones my writer friend Jade makes!)
  • Napping with my dog. He loves to snuggle, and listening to the slow and steady rhythm of his breathing often helps me hop off the mental treadmill for a few minutes.
  • Pilates. I started doing reformer Pilates earlier this year, and it has changed my life. It’s as much a mental challenge as a physical one, and when I’m in my weekly session it feels like a moving meditation. I always leave the studio feeling relaxed, focused, and fully present in my body.
  • And last but not least, reading. I’ve been worried that being part of the publishing industry would make reading feel like work, and honestly sometimes it does. But when I find a truly excellent, absorbing book, the outside world still falls away like it did when I was a kid.

Self-care and relaxation can feel like they’re taking me away from writing, or other work I should be doing, and quite often I stubbornly push through and keep plugging away far beyond the time when I should have taken a break. But every time I do that, I’m swiftly reminded, by the pain in my body or the agitation in my mind: I can’t be productive if I have no fuel in the tank. I can’t write if I’m running on empty. I have to replenish my energy, fill myself up. Breathe.

Another thing I’ve learned about myself over this crazy-busy past year, though, is that I don’t really care for having days off. I prefer to work a little every day, with periodic breaks, rather than giving myself a full day – or, god forbid, an entire weekend – to kick back and relax. I went on a three-day vacation to a remote Montana cabin this past October, and while I did enjoy it and probably needed it more than I want to admit, by the end of my stay I was dying to return to the real world and get back to work.

So although I need to take better care of myself in the new year, I also have to accept that I’m probably never going to be a chill person who loves leisure time. I like to work, especially when it’s work I love, like writing.

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Layne Fargo

Layne Fargo is a thriller author with a background in theater and library science. She’s a Pitch Wars mentor, a member of the Chicagoland chapter of Sisters in Crime, and the cocreator of the podcast Unlikeable Female Characters. Layne lives in Chicago with her partner and their pets.

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