Occupational therapist Hannah Daisy's illustrations show that self-care doesn't always have to mean treating yourself – sometimes it just means accomplishing regular tasks

Facing the daily to-do list of run-of-the-mill tasks like making the bed, washing the dishes, and doing the laundry can feel overwhelming when you live with an illness, disability or mental health issue

As a survivor of mental illness and endometriosis, occupational therapist Hannah Daisy knows what it’s like to struggle to get out of bed in the morning.

“At times I have felt very tired and even small tasks have felt overwhelming.” Daisy says. 

It's a feeling that many who live with an illness, disability or mental health issue can identify with. Facing the daily to-do list of run-of-the-mill tasks like making the bed, washing the dishes, and doing the laundry can feel especially onerous – but those small acts of self-care can also bring us more comfort and improve our wellbeing.

That's why Daisy, 32, has launched her “#BoringSelfCare” illustration series, which aims to celebrate the small victories of accomplishing daily acts of self-care.

 

“I started noticing that online, self-care was talked about in a very different way, often only about nice lovely things you can do for yourself, like a bubble bath, a massage, buying nice crystals, etc. In my profession, we talk about self-care involving a much wider range of ‘occupations’ or things you have to do every day. For example, doing the dishes, washing, dressing, housework and laundry,” Daisy says.

“I started to draw these tasks and call them ‘#boringselfcare’ and share them on Instagram. I was amazed at the amount of people who could relate. 

“I think in all honesty, anyone who has had mental health problems and/or chronic illness would be able to relate, as these everyday tasks can feel really difficult or impossible,” she adds.

 

I just cooked food for at least 3-5 days. CN food & how I manage each week. . . . . . I'll just share how I manage my meals each week with working full time 9-5 and commuting. I make a breakfast to have on the train and I buy a lunch at work. By the time I get home I'm so tired, I can't be bothered to cook from scratch. So what I like to do is make a big veggie chilli on a Sunday (Mexican food is my favourite). Then I can vary what I have with it all week, either chips, rice, a wrap on the side of something like veggie sausages etc. It means that I can just microwave it when I get home or put some rice or chips on. I also usually have an oven pizza once a week too. At weekends I have whatever I fancy, sometimes a takeaway curry, sometimes I'll make something other times I'll have something from the freezer. I find that planning ahead for the week helps and decreases the amount of labour I have to do when I'm tired (ctnd) #boringselfcare . . . . . . #edfam #edfamiliy #therapy #mentalhealth #mentalillness #drawing #art #illustration #psychosis #ocd #depression #anxiety #gad #bpd #selfharrm #borderlinepersonalitydisorder #eatingdisorder #anorexia #promarker #art #illustration #chroncillness #spoonie #spoonies #spooniesunite

A post shared by Hannah Daisy 🏳️‍🌈 (@makedaisychains) on

 

Daisy’s Instagram account @makedaisychains has already gained more than 20,500 followers, with drawings that celebrate small acts like going outside and getting some fresh air, going grocery shopping, and cooking and eating a nourishing meal.

The occupational therapist’s initiative comes as one Facebook user recently opened up about how difficult her experience with depression made it for her to tackle daily acts of self-care.

 

Katelyn Todd posted a photo of herself brushing her hair for the first time in four weeks on Facebook. “It was matted and twisted together. It snapped and tore with every stroke. I cried while I washed and conditioned it, because I forgot how it felt to run my fingers through it,” Ms Todd wrote in the post, which has been shared more than 291,000 times.

“I brushed my teeth too, for the first time in a week. My gums bled. My water ran red. I cried over that, as well. When I got out of the shower. I couldn't stop sniffing my hair and arms. I've avoided hugging people for awhile because I never smell good. I always smell like I've been on bedrest for a week. I have no clean clothes, because I'm too tired and sad to wash them.”

Ms Todd urges for people to “Please be easy on your friends and family that have trouble getting up the energy to clean, hang out, or take care of themselves,” adding: “And please, please take them seriously if they talk to you about it. We’re trying. See? I brushed my hair today.”

Daisy, who has worked in the mental health field for 10 years, says Ms Todd’s experience reflects the reality of many people struggling with depression and other debilitating illnesses, disabilities and mental health issues.

 

That’s why she believes it’s important to celebrate small acts of self-care.

“I think it’s especially important for those living with chronic illness or mental health problems because people still need to find a way to navigate doing basic tasks.

“I think it can help to think about it, especially if you have to calculate how much energy you have, but also to know that there is worth in doing boring tasks and that boring tasks can be an act of caring for yourself.”

“I think beating yourself up is one of the worst things you can do,” the occupational therapist adds.

“If you live with chronic illness or mental health problems and you managed to get up and get dressed, this is worth celebrating.”

Visit Hannah Daisy’s Instagram page for more of her ‘boring self-care’ illustrations

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