Hi guys! I have already mentioned the total sinkhole of happiness and motivation January turned out to be multiple times, so we aren’t going to rehash it. (Okay, so maybe a tiny rehash: January really fucking sucked.) Today, however, is not about January and said suckage . . . today is about self-care and feeling damn amazing.
One of the highlights of January was when the beautiful Isabel came home from Sweden and we met up and had a really motivating life chat. I feel like those conversations are becoming the backdrop of our friendship and I’m genuinely so grateful for it; she’s one of those people that I feel inspired to improve just by being around. (I need more of those people; feel free to apply.)
Both of us had a pretty lacklustre January and, as girls who are usually very motivated and focused on our productivity and growth, we were both feeling incredibly shitty. And I think a common theme we found was that as things started to go downhill, we’d scrabble to try to fix it . . . at the expense of self-care. For me, I was forgetting to eat, not sleeping enough and working to create design projects for literally 15 hours straight.
However, on top of this, Isabel raised a point that resonated so strongly with me that it actually inspired this entire post!
To paraphrase, she said: “So much of what’s considered self-care is surface level; is it really taking care of you?”
That thought struck me like a bolt of lightning. (Albeit less . . . mortally wounding.) Because, honestly, as many face masks as I was doing and luxurious hair masks I was using . . . my skin was still breaking out from stress, I wasn’t suddenly meeting my nutritional requirements and – shock horror – I hadn’t miraculously got a full eight hour sleep.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking these things. I do think they can be a form of self-care and, when I’m on top of all my basic needs, a nice face mask can totally relax me and make me feel like I’m taking some time for myself. But, if we’re being honest, on the scale of reality to dream Instagram/Pinterest life, a bubble bath is not going to fix the fact that you’re struggling under the weight of serious mental downtime.
So today Isabel and I are going to be sharing our self-care tips for your soul as opposed to just for your skin. This post is a collaboration and Isabel has her list over on her blog, so make sure that you go and check it out. (Seriously, it’s well worth the read. Right click and open in new tab. You’ll regret nothing.)
My Most Important Self-Care Rites
I call my self-care actions rites because I almost feel like they are; a lot of these things act as touchstones for me.
In my general life, I can be a tad obsessive at times. This would probably come as a big surprise to people who know me because it’s not a personality trait, as such, and I’m generally quite a laid back (read: lazy) person. But when I have a goal or I set my mind to a task . . . I tend to really 150% hyperfocus in a way that isn’t entirely healthy.
Balance can be something I really struggle with and, ever since I was really young, I sometimes feel a bit of a dissociation between my body and mind. For example: if I’m hungry, I generally won’t notice until I have a migraine, or I feel a bit faint, and then I’ll think “…oh, I haven’t eaten today”.
As you can imagine, combining these two things can really lead me to some terrible habits – so I keep treat these self-care habits as almost a checklist to make sure that I haven’t inadvertently forgotten some basic care.
1. Eat a substantial, healthy breakfast
Look, we all know that we’re meant to kickstart the day with a full stomach full of fuel, but how many of us actually do it? Even if you’re just chilling at home, make sure you start your day right. And, hey, if you need an easy breakfast recipe here’s my 2-ingredient, healthy and delicious pancake recipe link.
2. Go to sleep, but set an alarm for eleven hours after
Sleeping for too long tends to be counter-productive and make you more groggy and tired, so while sleep is important and I want you to get a full night’s sleep . . . make sure you don’t over sleep. Of course, you can wake up before the eleven hours – I think eight hours is enough, personally – but the key is to make sure you don’t sleep past it.
3. Have a shower or bath
I know, I know – I said that baths don’t fix everything. Well, they don’t. But being clean is important and getting clean is mentally awakening. Honestly, don’t you feel 100x more productive and ready to face the world on days that you wake up, take a shower or have a bath and get dressed? Sometimes the temptation to lay about in our pyjamas is strong – and sometimes it can be beneficial. I’m definitely not against a nice mental break day . . .
But getting up and showered to put your pyjamas back on? Who said that wasn’t a thing? (And, trust me on this one, it feels damn good.)
4. Meditate (or just give yourself some time to be calm, not watching TV or checking your phone and relax)
Not everybody enjoys or partakes in meditation and that’s totally fine (although I highly recommend it), but if you don’t meditate, just give yourself 20 minutes to sit down and do nothing. Just to enjoy being comfortable, being relaxed and not having to do anything. Don’t think, don’t plan, don’t worry – just take 20 minutes to sit down and think about how squishy your sofa is, how relaxed your limbs feel. You’ll be astonished how it acts like a mental reset button.
I actually enjoy doing this for ten minutes before I get out of bed. It helps me to wake up, calm myself and prepare to get up and out of bed gracefully (as opposed to waking up cursing the world for daring to exist before 12pm).
If you meditate, you’ll already be aware of the amazing mental impact regular meditation has. So quit putting it off.
5. Stand up and walk around (AKA Exercise. And, not to be a stereotype, but yoga is pretty great.)
If you’re at home, it can be really easy to just . . . not exercise. I mean, how do you even exercise from your bedroom, right? And, if you’re feeling in a low place or it’s cold outside or you’re tired or you feel ill or- see how this can go on? There’s an absolute abundance of reasons that it’s pretty easy to put off exercise . . . but it’ll make you feel so damn good to do it.
That said, exercise doesn’t have to be intense sprinting. If you’re at home all day, it’s easy to just throw some music on and pace around your house for twenty minutes, right? Or throw down a yoga towel, a guided Youtube yoga video and get to stretching? Just get up, do something and get some blood pumping.
6. Tidy your space
There’s a reason there’s an environment needs bar in Sims; people, both real and simulated (although who can tell the difference anymore?), react to their surroundings. Being in an untidy space can cause your mind to feel cluttered, so take a couple of hours to tidy up your living space.
7. Call your best friend. Or a friend. Or family. Just talk to someone.
Does anyone else ever find themselves inadvertedntly isolating themselves from the world? I’m a big believer in space and not needing to be connected 24/7 – but there’s a difference between having some breathing room and isolating yourself. And it’s a subtle difference that can be damn hard to spot until you realise you haven’t spoken to anyone for two weeks . . .
So call someone; check in with the world.
8. Detox your social media
This one is a concept I feel so damn strongly about (I know – you’re shocked, right? “Mia has passion for something; who knew?”). Social media, for better or for worse, is inescapeable. Most of us are connected in some way and, honestly, I think it’s all in how you use it.
It may sound cliche and you’ve probably seen this all over Twitter, but unfollow anything that doesn’t make you feel good.
And I mean this. If you struggle with your body image, unfollow all those bikini-clad Instagram models that make you feel inadequate. If you feel judged for things you post and it’s making you anxious, remove all people you know personally from your socials. If you can’t afford a certain lifestyle and seeing it posted everywhere is making you feel inadequate or upset, unfollow the people sharing the things that make you feel that way.
9. Give yourself a break
I’m a big believer in work/life balance. Not that anyone believes me because when I’m at home I’m usually blogging, but I genuinely do stand by that balance – I just enjoy blogging and I don’t watch TV, so it’s a form of entertainment. I don’t take my work home, I don’t think about my work when I’m at home and I don’t check my emails or anything like that. When I’m on the clock, I’m working. When I’m not, what even is work?
First of all, I recommend this – highly – but more importantly I recommend you realise that we all need leisure and downtime. Your brain needs to be able to relax and just enjoy something. So whatever you enjoy doing – reading, watching movies, baking, clubbing – make more time for it and give yourself a break from the “hustle”.
Okay, so these are just a couple of things that I do to ensure I’m on top of my self-care! Don’t forget to go and check out Isabel’s – I actually printed out a little graphic she made and stuck it on my office wall because her tips were that good.
I hope you enjoyed this post; can any of you guys relate to completely losing track of your self care sometimes? How do you guys get back on track? What are your touchstones and top tips? Which is your favourite of the tips I shared? Let me know your thoughts down below!