It’s holiday time and what better moment to talk about self-care gifts. But… self-care… what does that even mean?
True self-care is not salt baths and chocolate cake, it is making the choice to build a life you don’t need to regularly escape from.
This quote from Brianna Wiest recently made its way into my consciousness. Makes sense, no? Create the kind of life you want to live. But it’s not always easy.
“It is often doing the ugliest thing that you have to do,” Wiest goes on to say. “Like sweat through another workout or tell a toxic friend you don’t want to see them anymore or get a second job so you can have a savings account or figure out a way to accept yourself so that you’re not constantly exhausted from trying to be everything, all the time….”
So for this holiday season, I put together a list of self-care gifts designed to help you build the areas of your life you want to strengthen and help you face the things we often want to avoid.
Plus I’ve included some just-for-fun gifts. They’re to draw, eat or do something lovely for yourself when you’ve done the hard work of taking care of yourself as you move forward in your writing and life.
Self-care gifts for your writing life
Pitch and write articles for pay
You’ve been wanting to pitch but aren’t sure where to start. Or you want to up your current pitching game. Get your copy of Susan Shapiro’s The Byline Bible: Get Published in Five Weeks. With tons of glowing reviews, this book is one of the best things you can do to get your writing published in top publications.
Get your copy of The Byline Bible.
Sign up for Pitchwhiz.
This online pitching platform connects freelance journalists with editors and publications. It also helps you send and organize your pitches, plus they send a regular newsletter with calls for pitches. It’s free.
Join PitchWhiz now.
Make your characters come alive
Whether biting her lip to hold back giggle or throwing her head back in full-throated amusement, The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi will keep you inspired to present your characters with the most believable emotions.
Choose from a list of hundreds of possible emotions to inspire your writing and build deeper more believable characters.
Get Your Copy of The Emotion Thesaurus Now.
Create a plan for your writing life
I based The Writer’s Roadmap: Paving the Way To Your Ideal Writing Life on a decade helping writers create a clear vision for their writing lives. In the book, I outline a system I developed after years of feeling frustrated with my own writing opportunities. What changed for me? I started seeing my writing as a business and then set about making a plan to get me where I wanted to go.
Get Your Copy of The Writer’s Roadmap Now.
Find your writing community
When you’re looking for a group to cheer you on and hold you accountable to your writing plans, The Workshop offers support, accountability resources and more. In the Workshop, my exclusive online writing community, you’ll begin by creating a plan for your writing life using The Writer’s Roadmap book. Then via live events with published authors, award-winning journalists, Q&A sessions and our private forum for accountability and support and so much more, you’ll make your ideal writing plan a reality.
Join The Workshop Now.
Organize your book, screenplay, pitches and other things you write in this incredible writing interface. From cork boards you can move around to outline your project to a space to keep notes and research, Scrivener keeps your writing organized and easy to edit. Once you’re finished writing, it’s just a couple of steps to format your writing to send to agents and publishers.
Get Your Copy Of Scrivener Now.
This Magnetic Notebook
I love a good notebook, and this one has magnetic edges on each page so you can move things around and custom. There are also refillable packs of paper.
Get Your Magnetic Notebook Now.
For your mental well being
A self-care camp to keep things calm
I met David Cain years ago online and we’ve stayed in touch ever since. His level headed blog posts have inspired be since I first signed up for his mailing list almost a decade ago. Now he runs Camp Calm, and 30-day virtual workshop for learning the basics of mindful living.
Learn more about Camp Calm here. I’ll also send out a reminder in my newsletter before Camp Calm launches next so you can join in.
RESET: A Cosmic Tune-Up For Your Workday
Jocelyn Glei writes about ways to create more space in our lives by freeing ourselves from the tyranny of e-mail, social media and all the things that take our time and attention away from our most important deep work.
I took her RESET course earlier this year and learned loads. She helped me carve daily space for writing and find a comfortable rhythm so I can focus and get my work done.
Jocelyn often sends a special discount code to join her course. I’ll send a reminder e-mail in my newsletter along with the code when she launches her course again.
Breathe in the beauty of lavender.
Lavender essential oil is an incredible way to calm your mind, sleep better and get rid of headaches among other things. I’m including this in the list, because this oil has amazing memories for me. We found Chateau de Bois when we were driving through France in the first few months after leaving Brooklyn to travel full time.
If you can go there yourself, I highly recommend. Or you can buy your own online. It’s not cheap, but a small bottle does last a long time.
Get Your Lavender Oil Here.
Self-care gifts for your reading list
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng.
Aside from being a beautiful story that asks important questions about what it means to be a good mother, the alienation of being an immigrant in the US and more, there’s a scene in this book that describes the artistic process beautifully. It shows the trial and error, the patience needed and the methodical experimentation it takes to create art. Plus the willingness to be able to let go if something doesn’t work.
Get Your Copy of Little Fires Everywhere Now.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
This book is for anyone who has ever felt lost on her journey. And who doesn’t feel lost as least sometimes? It takes you from where you sit now to realize that where you are now is exactly where you need to be.
“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” But of course, you also have to take action and take the first steps of your journey.
Get Your Copy of The Alchemist Now.
The Dip by Seth Godin
We’re often told never to give up. Never Quit. The Dip makes the case that sometimes, it’s actually better to stop pouring energy into something that has no return. The trick, though, is knowing whether or not a project, book, relationship, job or whatever else is going will eventually be worth the effort it takes to move through the steep learning curve that invariably goes with creating something amazing.
The Dip offers guidelines for making a decision to stop or keep going.
Get Your Copy of The Dip Now.
Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon
What a lovely little book of hand-drawn and written words to inspire your creative process. Steal Like An Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative demystifies many of the ways we see art and frees you up to try new things.
This book includes quotes from Mark Twain, Jim Jarmush and Steve Jobs plus advice like “Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started.”
Get Your Copy of Steal Like An ArtistNow.
Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin
“There used to be two teams in every workplace: management and labor. Now there’s a third team: the linchpins. These people figure out what to do when there’s no rule boo. They delight and challenge their customers and peers. They love their work, pour their best selves into it, and turn each day into a kind of art.
Are you a linchpin? Do you want to be indispensable in the work you do? This book talks about what that means and how you do it.
Get Your Copy of LinchpinNow.
Due North by Lola Akinmade Åkerström
A photo book with corresponding travel stories from one of the most talented photographers I know. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Lola at travel magazines as well as helping her edit her latest novel. In Due North, shares her memories and way of seeing the world in this beautiful book of stories and gorgeous photography. It’ll make you want to see the world and know more.
Lagom: The Swedish Secret of Living Well
The Swedish art of moderation in all things. It’s not just how much chocolate you eat, it’s a way of life. This book, also by Lola Akinmade Åkerström, tells the story of finding the middle way through the eyes of someone who isn’t Swedish but has lived there and come to understand the nature of finding balance and happiness.
Get Your Copy of LagomNow.
The Butterfly Girl: A Novel by Rene Denfeld
What a gorgeous new novel by Rene Denfeld. The Butterfly Girl tells the story of Naomi, who we first met in Rene’s last novel, The Child Finder, as she searches for her sister in a city where young, homeless girls have been going missing and turning up dead. The Butterfly Girl is
Rene has a unique eye for seeing the world through the eyes of people we too often don’t see. Do yourself a favor and Google her as well. You’ll find a host of poignant journalism and personal essays that will make you see the world in a new way.
Get Your Copy of The Butterfly GirlNow.
Self-care for your business and home
Pay for a session with a CPA to get your finances in order.
Get a copy of Freshbooks or Quickbooks to invoice and keep records.
Pay for a day of housecleaning.
Buy your domain name and set up your website.
Create a sign up on your website to collect e-mail addresses for your mailing list.
Self-care your creative life.
Draw, paint or sculpt something
From pencils and paint to sketchbooks and clay, buy yourself something so you can use your hands to create. This is especially wonderful to do if you don’t consider yourself an artist. Let yourself free as you create something away from your computer and phone.
Browse art supplies now.
Cook or bake something new
Bake bread with Poilane: The Secrets of the World Famous Bread Bakery.
Or make a traditional Argentine asado with Francis Mallman: Grilling the Argentine Way
Find your way to The Food Network and choose a recipe you’ve been wanting to try. Or try this amazing potsticker recipe from Steamy Kitchen. They’re a favorite in our house, although I’m still learning how to pinch the dumplings closed properly. Or this old fashioned cake donut recipe I make almost every Chanuka with my kids.
Self-care gifts you give for free
The gift of a block of time every day to get your work done
Take a nap
Walk in the woods
Recognize your accomplishments
Go to sleep early.
Or sleep late.
Say no when you want to say no
Adopt a pet.
Or a plant. I planted an old piece of ginger in a shallow box on our porch earlier this year. I soaked it in water overnight then filled a planter we had with dirt and covered the root. Watered regularly and after about three weeks, this happened.
It may not be pretty (yet), but it makes me happy.
Some other ways to take care of yourself for absolutely no money at all:
Take a bath
Turn off all your tech for the weekend.
Ask for something you want.
More lists for gifts for yourself and for anyone else in your life
My 2019 Gift Gide for Writers, with everything for your writing live from chocolate and tea to pens and another reading list.
Author-marketing guru Rachel Thompson of Bad Redhead Media pulled together this list of gifts for the holidays.
For the traveler, check out Sherry Ott’s Travel Gift Ideas.
Chuck Wendig’s gifts of the pen monkeys of the world.
Reedsy includes some interesting ideas on their gift list, such as plates, cushions and word games.
The Huffington Posts has a list devoted specifically to gifts for better sleep.