MADD Mid Atlantic Victim Services Team – Self-Care Week Challenge

Self-care is so important, but to many of us, the concept can feel intimidating. But the MADD Mid-Atlantic Victim Services team (Alisa O’Neill and Robin Stimson) wanted to lead by example in showing that self-care is not this elaborate expensive thing to do. Self-care doesn’t have to be time consuming or uniform; it can be the simple things, such as drinking a glass of water, taking a walk when it’s nice outside or connecting with friends and family. When it comes to taking time for you and addressing your emotional health, it’s important for you to do things that add to your happiness. We have been documenting our daily self-care acts and notating on what worked and did not work and cost of each activity. We hope that this can encourage our MADD Newsletter Readers to find the self-care activities all around them.


Robin’s entry: I woke up, got into my morning routine and almost forgot this was the week (Alisa and I) were supposed to begin our MADD Mid-Atlantic Self-Care challenge. Whoops! Usually, I eat my breakfast at my desk and hurriedly check email. Today, I decided to join my family at the breakfast table and we chatted about our upcoming day, how much we enjoyed the past weekend and the movies we want to watch at our next movie night. Those initial 10 min away from work seemed self-indulgent, but it was so worth it. I was able to eat slowly and connect with my loved ones which helped get my day off to a great start.

Cost – Free!

Alisa’s Entry: Sunday was such a busy day for me that I forgot to do my weekly self-care Sunday activity to start off the work week. Normally I like to do a face mask and put my Pajamas on early Sunday afternoon and lounge around, but I was out and about running errands and I forgot. So, on Monday, I decided to give myself some compassion for being forgetful. I know that we are all human and it’s okay to make mistakes. Allowing yourself to make room for errors and set aside the unattainable goal of perfection can go a long way.

Cost- Free!


Robin’s Entry: Later in the day, when the sun was not as bright, I went outside for about 30 min. to get away from the screens and the day-to-day chores. I like watering the plants and trees in my yard, observing the everyday beauty. It feels amazing to hear the sounds of the rustling leaves, the birds and (even) the occasional airplane in the sky. So for those of you that don’t have a green thumb, no worries, it’s still important to head outside for some sunshine. According to, Vitamin D from the sun is, “involved in calcium absorption, immune function, and protecting bone, muscle, and heart health. It occurs naturally in food and can also be produced by your body when your skin is exposed to sunlight.” So take that break and catch some rays!

Cost – varies depending on the plants, water usage and gardening tools. Just a break outside? Free!  

Alisa’s Entry: I try my best to live a healthy lifestyle.  My best friend had the idea of going for a 6 am walk around Battery Park in New Castle, Delaware. Though it was nice to walk along the Delaware River, and seeing the sun rise.  I don’t think it is something I would like to do daily, because it’s out of my way to get there. However, I did enjoy breaking the monotony of my early evening workout routine. Working out first in the morning gave me a nice head start for my after-work errands, but I think I’ll keep stay with my 5pm gym time instead of 6 am. 

Cost- Free!


Robin’s Entry: Work and other duties usually leaves me hurried throughout the day. It’s easy for me to get into a lunch rut. Microwave entrée? Check! Last night’s leftovers? Check! Handful of snacks scarfed down in-between meetings? Check, check, check! Today, I decided to make a trip and head out to pick up a healthy sandwich from one of my favorite delis nearby. The sandwich consisted of hummus, smashed avocado, veggie slaw, tomato and cucumber on challah bread. It was a delight. It was nice to, again, get away from my desk. Even the short drive was restorative – it meant more time for me to be able to listen to my favorite tunes. Sadly, I did eat the sandwich at my desk (hey, no one’s perfect), but the lunch was a delightful change from the same ‘ol, same ‘ol.

Cost – $11 for the sandwich

Alisa’s Entry: I practiced the word of saying “no” to plans.  I had a full day, and I didn’t want to add another task onto my agenda. Though I could have squeezed in the time to do it, I know I would have been burnt out. I used to feel afraid to say no because I didn’t want to let people down, but I started to notice the after effect of neglecting myself by not saying no. I would get agitated easily and fatigued; I wouldn’t feel like myself. Over the past year I had to deprogram myself to stop being a people pleaser and creating boundaries in my scheduling.

Cost- Free!


Robin’s Entry: I admit it, I am not a huge fan of many forms of exercise. Sad, but true. I don’t enjoy the treadmill, strength-training can be hard on my back, and most yoga poses make me feel frustrated and discouraged. But I’ve always loved to swim and the pool is one of the reasons summer is my favorite season. Therefore, before I started my work day, I went for a quick swim at the neighborhood pool. The water felt so refreshing. Plus, regardless of your physical abilities, the pool can make you feel like a little kid. The weightlessness, the bouncing, and the splish-splash can’t help but put a smile to my face. Swimming is not for everyone – but I love it and that’s the point. Self-care should be an activity that you find relaxing and fun.

Cost – Free (check with your local county/jurisdiction to find a free aquatic center near you).

Alisa’ Entry:  I wanted to do a budget friendly self-care activity, so I decided to pamper myself with an at-home pedicure using the nail polish and nail care utensils I had around. There was no direct cost from this day, but the items I have were readily available.  Though I prefer getting my toes done at the nail salon for a more relaxing experience, I was still able to enjoy pampering myself and keeping up with appearance. It made me feel nice to take care of myself and to save some extra money!

Cost- Free!


Robin’s Entry: Fridays are already a challenge in my house. Everyone is exhausted and mentally spent from the week. The work we do at MADD, is rewarding. However, it’s important to be able to manage the frustrations of the criminal justice system, address the trauma and devastation that our families experience, but also be able to be present in other aspects of my life (i.e., with my family and friends). Interestingly, one of our MADD volunteers shared how she uses apps to help with insomnia. It’s no secret that I’ve had many sleepless nights as the result of this job, so I decided to try an app too. That night I downloaded Calm (Google Play) and drifted off to sleep by listening to the soothing sounds of bubbling brooks, rain showers and meditations. I was skeptical, but it really worked (at least for me) and I was able to let go some of the more difficult parts of my day.

Cost – Varies. Check all disclaimers with your phone carrier to determine any applicable charges and fees.

Alisa’s Entry: Friday, I spent time with my mom at Marshall’s after work. It was nice to enjoy each other’s company since I don’t spend a lot of time with my mom since I moved into my own place. At Marshalls I got two items under $100 bucks to decorate my new living space. I find that investing in your home/apartment to find decor that you like gives a sense of control, and when a home is being freshly decorated it starts to become your very own- it’s a feeling like no other. It’s almost like making a blank house a canvas and then creating something that reflects you.

Cost: $70 -Area Rug $ 49.99 and picture frame $19.99


Robin’s Entry: It’s been a long, hot, summer so far. And my busy weekends usually lead to me spending lots of time outdoors. In addition to exercise, I am not always the best with drinking water as much as I should be. But on the busy days running around, the cool drink of water felt like a healthy activity that cost nothing and helped me avoid feeling dehydrated. I prefer my water with a lot of ice and today, made sure I always had it with me outside, in the car and next to my bedside. Stopping and drinking a glass of water gave me a sense of accomplishment. Not one of the most fun forms of self-care I attempted this week, but it was still very important, nonetheless.

Cost – Free!

Alisa’s Entry: Saturday, I piggy backed from what I did the previous day and I wanted to clean my whole apartment. I vacuumed all the floors, cleaned my workspace, living space and bedroom space. This also, made me feel a sense of accomplishment because I got to see the product of my labor- a neat home and that makes me super happy. Also, lighting my favorite candle from Bath and Body Works was the cherry on top after working hard to clean my home.  Having the aroma fill the area made it warmer and more welcoming and it gave me a sense of peace.



Robins Entry: Not much I enjoy more than a lazy Sunday. And while it’s great that the world is opening up again, there are days I feel like my calendar gets overbooked in a blink. Not seeing loved ones over the last 18 months due to social distancing restrictions, has been hard. But I think it’s important not to go from one extreme to another. Balance is key and saying, ‘No,’ to a coffee hang with one of my besties today was tough. But sitting on my couch, petting my dog and not rushing around gave me time to unwind and get my head in the right mindset for the week ahead.

Cost – Free!

Alisa’s Entry: Being that Sunday is my Self-care day to start off the work week, I chose to take a bubble bath and have my favorite show- Girlfriends playing in the background. I still enjoyed the time I spent pampering myself.  I think it would have been more beneficial if I was more mindful and not have Netflix playing the background to distract myself. Next time I will just enjoy the movement in my peaceful solitude.

Cost- Free!


Robin’s Thoughts: There are many ways to take time out of your day for you. Some of my self-care tactics cost money, but many were free. All were personal to me – and may not work for others. But that’s the point! Not everyone needs to do yoga, expensive spa treatments or trips to Tahiti in order to feel restored. A walk, a hike, fishing, writing, gardening, a laugh with a good friend, a movie you love but seen many times? All (and many other things) can be considered self-care. How will you take care of you today?

Alisa’s Thoughts: I noticed my self-care activities were either personal care (painting my nails), mental health care (saying no), and taking care of my environment (cleaning). What I might find to be self-care, may not be relaxing to you- and that’s perfectly fine! Cleaning might be overwhelming and stressful to others, while someone might find it therapeutic. Self-care is all about what you find to be relaxing or beneficial to you and then making the effort to do more of those things. Self-care is not selfish and it doesn’t have to be expensive!