A woman curled up in a pile of pillows

Building A Cozy Self-Care Nest

Birds have the inner knowledge to build a nest to protect themselves and their children from things that can harm them. We have our own way of doing this as well, sometimes in the form of a house or a blanket burrito on the couch. I thought I’d share some helpful tips that I’ve learned over the years, dealing with my non-Hodgkin lymphoma, for creating your own “nest”.

Building the nest itself

First, let's start on the ground floor. You can literally start on the floor if that’s your thing. Some people use inflatable kiddie pools with a fuzzy blanket inside and throw in all their comfy pillows. If that’s not your thing, a couch, bed, or even pillow fort is a good base. Blankets help keep us warm, but can also help keep us feeling safe. I would recommend two: one to lay on top of and one to have on top of you. Weighted blankets are wonderful for people who like the feeling of weight/pressure on their bodies.

To take it a step further, you can add borders around you with pillows to create a barrier or wall if you like. Or your nest can be completely open if that’s your style! Once you have that, we can start adding more. If your cat hasn’t claimed your nest as its own, or if you don’t have a cat, a stuffed animal is a great addition. They aren’t just for kids! My Bengal tiger David assures you. Stuffed animals are great to cuddle with without having to feel guilty for squeezing too hard. They won’t say “OW!” either. Body pillows are also good for this and can help your body lay down at different angles that might help with pain or posture.

What else can you add to your nest? Basically, you’ll want things that help you feel relaxed. Back scratchers, body massagers, heated blankets, candles, scented sprays, anything that makes you go “Ahhhh…” Don’t under any circumstances underestimate the power of fuzzy socks. The ones they sell around Christmas time are the BEST! I myself enjoy baggy pajamas when I’m relaxing. You wear whatever you like to lounge around in, birthday suits included.

Find some good entertainment

What do you like to do to relax? Painting, cross-stitching, reading, watching TV? I’ve found that I like 'easy watching.' What’s that? It’s like those easy listening radio stations. I like to watch things visually without having to think or concentrate too hard on what I’m viewing. It helps my mind decompress and still gives me something to do so I’m not bored. I like the feeling of nostalgia so I watch a lot of old kids' shows from when I was growing up. I’ve always loved Blue’s Clues. (That Steve really needs to get glasses or something - he misses a lot of the clues. It’s a good thing he has so much audience participation.)

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Creating a safe space for yourself

It can be very difficult to eat while in treatment. If you can, however, it’s nice to munch on snacks healthy or otherwise while you relax. Blood-Cancer.com has some wonderful recipes here on the site. Smoothies or milkshakes are nice too. If you get too cold from drinking them guess what? BLANKETS!

Among the above tips and tricks I’ve also realized, at least for me personally, lighting can have an effect on my overall mood. Warm yellow light makes me feel calmer than bright white LED lights. I can only assume because it reminds me of a crackling fire which I’ve always loved. Fires remind me of fireplaces, which reminds me of my old home in New Jersey which reminds me of Autumn when I was a child where everything had a yellow-orange color. White noise can also help. For you nerds, there’s a website that has options for background noise based on what fantasy series you like. The Gryffindor common room is just one example.

The purpose is to make yourself a safe space that you can do whatever you need to for yourself. I hope whatever you end up choosing, it helps you along your journey. Warm wishes, Katelynn

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