The First Part of 2018 + Self Care Ideas with Pictures

Potted plants

When 2018 first rolled around, I knew it wasn’t going to be pretty.

2017 had been an amazing year and I already knew that 2018 wouldn’t be able to beat it, but the intensity of these last four months has been beyond even what I imagined.

When I say “intensity” I mean a number of things – the good, the bad, and the ugly, with high speed transitions that other people would describe as a roller coaster but I like to describe as the Canadian spring temperature. Most of it is highly emotional. At the worst point I had a guest that I hadn’t seen since five years ago – anxiety. I’ve only had repetitive periods of anxiety/panic attacks twice in my life – once in 2013, and once in 2018. It didn’t help that these past four months have also been very busy for me in terms of running my side business, studying, helping out at church, and exercising.

So from the middle of April until now I have been taking some time to recover because I know that very soon the busy summer is going to start and I’ll be packed again with no time to deal with all the emotional baggage.

This blog post is going to show you some of the fun things I did that made me happier and hopefully inspire you with some new ideas that you can use to care for yourself if 2018 has been punching you around a bit like it has been doing to me. All these activities are more or less solitary so you don’t have to ask your busy friends to hang out.

1. Visiting a strange store

I decided to go to a bookstore that I’ve wanted to visit for some time but never did because it was so far from me. The Monkey’s Paw at Bloor St W and Landsdowne specializes in old, unusual books.


I was excited to try out their famous vending machine called the Biblio-Mat, which will dispense a random book for $3 (price has increased since the time of the web page).


You buy a token from the nice man working there and then dispense it into the machine.


It makes a sound and then it belches out an old, unusual book for you. Look at this scandalous book that I got!


2. Exploring the city alone

I love people but I’m also an introvert, so being surrounded by people while not having to interact with them is great! This is why I like exploring downtown Toronto by myself. I first discovered how much I loved exploring busy cities when I was in Beijing and carried this hobby back home.


3. Eating cute food at cute places

There were three reputedly cute places that I wanted to go to but only ended up going to one. Peace Treats on Argyle and Ossington has really pretty milkshakes. I got the D.R.E.A.M.


Does it taste as good as it looks? Yes. Yes it does. The girl making the milkshakes was really considerate because I needed to run to a washroom nearby so she held off the cream and waited until I came back to finish making the milkshake so that it wouldn’t melt while I was gone. Part of their profits go to helping poor kids in Canada.


Home is Markham but when I travel abroad I obviously say I’m from Toronto because where the heck is Markham? They played a lot of Drake in there.


Fun fact: eating cute food at cute places is also a hobby developed in Beijing, which has some of the cutest cafes I have ever been to in my life.

4. Going somewhere you’ve been to a long time ago

All my OCAD alumni friends know Manpuku in the Grange. They took me there to eat a long time ago. My lasting memory of it was good food at good prices. This time I went back and I was not disappointed. The food and prices are still great, and the people working there are friendly and prompt. I had some kake udon.


This place is especially great if you’re eating alone. It feels perfectly normal and they have tables for one where you can people-watch.

5. Writing a letter to the BFF

The secret to this activity is using cute stationery. My BFF and I have been long-distancing for so many years in our long friendship that we’ve gotten used to it. Sort of. I still miss spending time with her in person.


6. Trying new solutions to old problems

I have back acne from fencing evidently my traditional wash-and-change method hasn’t helped. I finally decided I was going to buy some soap that is reputedly good for “bacne”. I bought the Pelican Soap For Back (Herbal Citrus). I haven’t started using it yet but when my little break is done and softball season hits (no pun intended), I’m probably going to need it.


Hopefully this means I’ll be able to wear open-back dresses without having to explain to everyone why I have red splotches all over my back (“because I sweat while I stab people”).

7. Learning something new from YouTube

I started modeling my Etsy products so I’m learning how to do contouring with makeup. So far I’ve only managed to get the nose right but it’s a lot of fun just messing around with makeup and taking ridiculous pictures.


Another girl achievement unlocked.

8. Adopting plant babies

I love house plants. I can generally keep them alive even though they don’t always look too healthy. Costco happened to be selling herb plants so I’ve adopted these new babies ❤


I have repotted them into these nice clay pots. I can’t plant them outside because of this serial killer:


But sometimes I put them outside to enjoy the air a bit. This makes them happy.


I hope my babies grow up big and strong. And when they do, I will eat them.  ̄ ︶  ̄

I hope that your 2018 has been less intense than mine, but if not, then I hope this blog post has given you some ideas on how to enjoy spending time with yourself. Please pray for me because alas it’s only May and I’m already asking when this year will be over.

Thanks for reading and please do share some of your own fun activities that make you happy in the comments below 🙂

11 thoughts on “The First Part of 2018 + Self Care Ideas with Pictures

  1. Hello Haidan! Seems like it’s been a crazy few months for you. Good job on being a trooper and getting through all that 🙂
    2018 has been a rollercoaster year for me as well. I’ve moved to the opposite side of the country and started a new job. I’m still figuring out how to be a Vancouverite!
    I love the ideas you shared here. I like spending time with friends but as an introvert I also love doing things by myself – going for walks, sitting at a cafe to write, or doing crafts at home. I think not everyone understands that lol 🙂
    The Monkey’s Paw and the Biblio-Mat sounds so awesome! Wish that I was still in Toronto so I could go to that store 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sophie! Moving to a new city is definitely a big change that takes time to adjust. One thing I’ve always admired about you is how you challenge yourself! I’m glad you enjoyed the list and hope that Vancouver rewards you with many great times ahead!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Haha, my 2017 was super intense (you know why), and my 2018 has also been extremely intense, but in a slightly different way from 2017. D:

    The strange book vending machine was very cool. 🙂

    Fun activities: mostly reading and writing. And going on Facebook. For writing, aside from my regular stories, I started writing letters to someone I like and trust (but I will never send them). These letters are great for organizing stuff in my mind, and discovering things I never knew about myself. Lately, I started reading a book called Writing to Awaken by Mark Matousek, and have been doing a number of the writing exercises. The book is basically saying that we create a story (a fiction) about ourselves, and thus fabricate a fake identity. But when we realize that our real self is not the same as the story we tell about ourselves, we can be free, and find our true identity.

    That said, I wouldn’t say that everything we believe about ourselves is false, but it’s still great to discover that some beliefs (usually negative ones) were wrong. So far, the exercises I’ve been doing were on finding out my dark, shadow sides, and unearthing and facing my secrets and areas of shame. It’s interesting how writing about these secrets and shames, made them feel less scary, because now they aren’t just spinning in my mind (for more than ten years); they’re now down on paper, addressed to someone I like and trust, because I’m doing these writing exercises in my letters to this anonymous friend, haha. Also, through writing, I’m beginning to see that it’s possible to integrate these “dark sides” of myself into my overall self. It has become easier for me to accept how I can be full of contradictions, complexities, and be in constant change. I feel less of a frantic scramble for consistency and coherence. Writing about my secret shames was a great relief to me too, like a lightening of a burden, and I stopped feeling ashamed about some of these secrets.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey that book sounds pretty interesting! I’d like to read it as someone who actually enjoys fabricating parts of me. Also I’m glad that you found a way to deal with the intenseness!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha about you liking to fabricate parts of yourself. ^_^ Also, are we supposed to get email notifications of replies? I only saw the notifications when I came to check your website again, on the bell symbol. I did check the “notify me of new comments via email” box.


  3. “Canadian spring temperature” – AHAHAhahahahaha *cries*
    Also, “this serial killer” – BUNNY
    On a more serious note, great ideas! I, too, love to explore the city alone. It’s a hobby that I, too, have brought back from living in Asia. I like to visit library branches that I’ve never been to before and explore the neighbourhoods around them. Shall add the Monkey’s Paw to the list of indie bookstores I want to go to 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s