There are lots of factors that can influence our individual self-care needs, like being of one or more marginalized identities, having a certain illness or chronic pain, or even managing specific life circumstances. Sex workers are an extremely diverse group and our needs reflect that – as should our self-care practices.
Of course, there’s never going to be a complete list of tips where every single action will apply to every single person, so take what you like and leave the rest. I would say a good place to start is to prioritize getting enough sleep, managing your stress, drinking water, eating a well-balanced diet, and prioritizing personal safety – important forms of self-care that everyone should work on, no matter what their job. Then you can figure out ways to treat yourself and make sure you’re taking care of yourself. I try to break it down into categories so you can find something that best resonates with you.
Find community online
Something to save your mental health is to unfollow anyone that makes you feel bad. Don’t ironically ‘hate-follow’ anyone. Block trolls and mute words that you don’t want to see. Try to make friends and find a community of friends, and curate your online space to be one that makes you feel happy to be there. Not only is it great to network with likeminded people, but having friends helps it feel less like screaming into the void when being online. Try and cultivate your online experience to be as welcoming to you as possible. Good places to connect with folks are Twitter, Reddit, Discord groups or Telegram groups.
Take the time to do something just for you, whatever that means to you. It could be as simple as drinking a nice tea, or taking a bath and playing Animal Crossing. Maybe it’s playing with a pet at the park. Invest in time off for yourself and figuring out what exactly that means for you. This is that standard advice of face masks, fancy dinners, going to bed early – classic self-care anecdotes for a reason.
Physical activity can boost your immune system and help reduce stress. Exercise releases those feel-good endorphins that can help promote better mood, sleep patterns, and alleviate tension. Essentially, finding some type of activity that involves movement that brings you joy can have multiple positive effects on you. I’m not saying you have to take up going to the gym; it might be taking a walk, going to a park, dancing or yoga. It could even be reorganizing something, doing the dishes, or deep cleaning your house.
Doing something creative is said to help focus the mind and it can sometimes push people to think outside of the box. The best part of creative endeavors is that there are no rules, so find the right creative medium for you. For example, is it a journal for you to doodle in? I have no artistic talent, so sitting with an adult coloring book is my calming activity. Even redecorating your house can help reinvigorate you. Just small changes in your environment can encourage new cell growth in the brain. Or try your hand at a brand-new project like resin art, or go to a museum and get inspired!
While many people associate spiritual activities with religion, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes getting involved in various spiritual practices can be self-care and can help a person improve their mental and emotional health. Think along the lines of not only worship for various religions, but meditation, spending time in nature, prayer, silence, volunteering for a cause you care about, and so forth. It can look different for everyone and finding a grounding practice that works for you can be incredibly peaceful.
Engage your brain
Research has shown that mental stimulation can help keep your brain active by stimulating new connections between nerve cells, so any brain activity is giving your mind a little workout. Things like puzzles, crosswords and math games can all help boost your memory, concentration and focus skills. Even reading a book, researching something new or listening to a podcast will get your brain muscle working.
Humans are social creatures, which means we need regular connection with others to thrive. (Yes, even us introverts need some human contact to survive.) That’s why prioritizing activities that nurture our relationships with others is critical. While of course we all need to just say “no” sometimes and spend time alone, it’s also extremely important to make time for social interaction. So call a friend, write a letter, visit a nursing home, plan a game night, or go on a date night with a significant other or platonic friend!
Masturbate just for you
As sex workers, we’re often playing the role of someone else’s fantasy, so take the time to prioritize your pleasure and your needs. No makeup, no moaning, no need to put on a show for someone else, exactly how you like to do it! Whether that means turning your vibrator all the way up over your pajamas or taking time off from masturbating all together, it’s completely up to you.
Self-care is whatever you need it to be
Yes, even mundane, everyday activities can be considered self-care. Anything that you need to do to make sure your core needs are met and that reduce stress can be defined as self-care. I hope this list inspired you to take care of yourself and prioritize your needs and find a self-care practice that works for you. Rest isn’t earned, it’s a necessity.