Geek, Health

Self-Care and Seasonal Stressers

For supposedly being the happiest time of the year, the holiday season comes with an inordinate amount of stress. From parties and families to house fires and robberies, the end of year is notorious for running the stress gamut. I’ve personally been going through a good deal of stress in the last month or so. An additional job, participating in a wedding, and a holiday season with no snow but rising heating bills, to name a few things. To be honest, that tends to knock the shine off my Applejacks after a while. So, I fall into my self-care routine.

With everything surrounding this time of year, it’s important to remember to take care of yourself. If nothing else, remember that it’s ok to take a break to relax sometimes. All work and no play leads to Jack Nicholson and an axe, and no one needs that.

That Voodoo I Do

With the little free time I do have, I’ve come to rely on small things to carry me: listening to an audiobook, cooking meals for the week, cleaning the apartment. Some nights I open YouTube and rewatch comedy videos I’ve seen 30+ times to help bring me down for the evening. These little bits of normalcy and routine help me unclutter the grey matter, with the occasional side benefit of a clean place.

But more often than not, I tend to relax by shuffling a deck of Magic cards. I’ll grab a deck, maybe a favorite or one I’m tinkering with, and play out a game. Something about the tactile activity and the familiarity of the cards calms me down. That’s my safe place, my stress relief. I haven’t been able to play with others as much lately, but with the new year comes new hopes, right?

I’ve spoken about my love affair with Magic in the past, to the point where some of you might be rolling your eyes, but it’s become a comfort since I rediscovered the game. It brings my mind to foldout tables and friends in the student union. I flash back to Portland, playing some games with TGE’s own Dante at his local game store. It’s been the context for so many good parts of my life that now the game has become a source of comfort and relaxation during stressful times.

Little Piece of Home

For many people, escapism via tabletop or video games is self-care. The distraction of a game, the chance to sink into a story or dive into mechanics, is necessary from time to time. For many others, it’s the same thing with a favorite show or book or song. Whatever the medium or fandom, everyone has that one IP they go to in order to unwind.

But this time of year, finding the time to do that might be a challenge. Obligations tend to take the front seat and self-care is usually relegated to the back. It’s important to let the two of them swap places every now and again.

During my last semester at university, I got the chance to study abroad in England for a month. Now, I love England and British culture, so I was definitely excited to go. But as bad luck had it, nobody else in the course played, and to be fair bringing a deck of cards worth a nonzero amount to a different country might not have been a great idea. But before we left, I slipped a single card in my phone case to take with me.

A US rat on UK soil

Having that small totem with me, that physical link, was invaluable. I’m not joking when I say I pulled that card out on multiple occasions just to have something in my hand. Unfamiliar transport routes, at least one protest, and Pre-Brexit politics, among other things, proved various levels of nerve-wracking that month. But just being able to take a little while, put on a Twitch stream, and hold that piece of my safe space with me was huge.

Who Says I Can’t Take it with Me?

Taking a little piece of your passion with you gives you the opportunity to have that safe place with you. A lucky d20, a Firefly tattoo, Techno Syndrome on your iPod, whatever it is, that little geeky piece is there to ground you.

Grab your DBZ hoodie. Put on a holiday-themed playlist of video game tracks. Or, if you’re staying in, finish up that Sherlock Holmes book again. Pop in Viva Piñata for a little while then turn in early. Whatever you want to do to celebrate, go for it. Just remember that it’s ok to take a minute if you need it.

Pull out your little piece of home. Breathe. You’re ok.

As always, this has been Crab, wishing you a safe, calm, and happy 2019.

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