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Practicing Self Care During a Pandemic (Without Getting Burned)

...Don’t be alarmed; I burn soy wax candles and never leave them unattended. Due to recent events, I feel like I must preface any mention of flame and remind you to indulge responsibly.





It’s now mid-to-late September—so Fall is practically knocking at our doors. Classes have already resumed for many and are just about to for the rest. Regardless, this summer was really...something. I thought I’d share with you some ways I have been and will be practicing self-care for the foreseeable future to help combat the stress and anxiety that often comes with the start of a new academic year—especially within these current circumstances. Now, onward to the fun part!


Candles.


I am weak for the creature comforts that are fall classics, so I must, of course, mention my love of candles. Can one ever have too many candles?? The answer is no.


Lately, I’ve been lighting this one called “Santal Fig” I picked up during an Anthropologie sale a million years ago, and it smells amazing—like fresh figs and the warm Mediterranean seaside. I can almost see the torches flickering in the night as I recline on a chaise lounge, the breeze a soft lull and my eyes slowly drifting closed.


I swear I’m not being sponsored—trust me, I wish. Pro-tip: I always light it (this specific single wick candle) for at least an hour, both to fully enjoy the warm scent and to ensure that the wax is getting an even melt. For the longest time, I couldn’t figure out why my candles were tunneling, then I realized I wasn’t keeping the wicks trimmed and lighting them long enough. Seriously, you’ll thank yourself later for not ruining your expensive (or not so expensive) candles.


Tea.


Of course, I can’t bring myself to light a candle without also fixing a steaming cup of tea to accompany it—really setting the mood. Have I been obsessively hoarding teas as a coping mechanism for the looming start of online classes?


Maybe...


Anyway, I’ve been downing mug after mug of Bigelow’s Earl Grey (my go-to: classic and affordable), but I recently picked up their Constant Comment blend at the recommendation of the Tea subreddit—don’t judge me—and it’s quite nice. I was pleasantly surprised at the spicy-ish, orangey goodness. I also treated myself to some slightly fancier Harney & Sons teas; I could no longer resist the gorgeous tins the sachets come in.


It’s been good to switch things up—this’ll be the most exciting thing to happen to me in weeks.


Technology, Begone!


So, what next? My candle is lit. My tea is brewed. It’s now time to shut my laptop and turn my beloved cellular device face down.


Listen, I know it’s hard. I find myself waking up, eyes snapping open, fingers twitching for the familiar weight of my phone in hand, my first thought to refresh my emails, but it’s okay. Really. I try to remind myself that the world will not end if I don’t check my phone or my laptop or any other device with internet access. Even if it’s just for an hour, the throbbing between your temples and behind the eyes will appreciate it (I speak from experience). Also, if possible, now would be a good time to make a dramatic exit from the room you tend to study/work in. Unsurprisingly, I find it much easier to not think about work if I’m not in the same space.


I know it sounds trite, but don’t underestimate the soothing powers of a warm drink and the simple pleasure of candlelight, so unlike the harsh cast of fluorescents or LED bulbs.


In my case, I set the candle on the coffee table next to the couch. I lie back, throw a (heavy) blanket on top of myself, sip my tea, and let the night wrap its arms around me.



This piece was written by one of our tutors, Minh Thu.

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