Self-care feels like such a trendy buzzword right now, I almost feel silly saying it. But really it’s about damn time. I’m GLAD we are all finally talking about how necessary it is to take care of ourselves. It is a powerful cultural shift and I am HERE FOR IT.
It's not like I ever thought I wasn’t taking care of myself. Who walks around thinking, “I don’t want to feel good, I don’t want to destress.”
But I think because we assume self care should happen so naturally and organically we believe that it does. It's actually quite the opposite: self care takes an incredible amount of intentionality and practice.
And then because we're “planning” for it, self-care inadvertently becomes another checkbox on our (already) overwhelming daily to-do list. I get it. But once you get into the habit of incorporating self care routines into your work, it gets easier and easier to stick with them. They take up less of your energy and mental bandwidth and then when you skip one or two you begin craving that little habit. It's hard work at first (like everything) and then it gets easier.
Maybe it’s helpful if I share the self-care routines that anchor my week? Yes. And I didn’t just wake up one morning and decide I was going to do all six of these in one day. It started with one, and then I added on. There was lots of experimentation and tweaking in the in-between, but I committed to really doing things that I had a hunch were going to make me feel a lot better and help me manage my anxiety.
The Self Care Routines that Get Me Through the Week – AM
As you’ll see below. This is an IDEAL day. Because, you know life, I often don’t get to all of them, but when I am feeling particularly overwhelmed or stress it’s nice to have an arsenal of proven methods to help me feel better and take a minute for myself.
When I first wake up, I go into our spare bedroom and do a series of stretches. This started after my car accident last November and now I notice a difference in my body when I stretch in the AM and when I’m running behind and forget. It’s also a quick check in to see how I’m feeling in my body and note if there’s any extra soreness or tension.
I HATE how people talk about meditation. People bark, “You should meditate!” like it’s a command or something people should do for instantaneous results. Spoiler alert – the first 50 times you sit down to meditate you’ll feel distracted and like it’s not working. This is why many who “get” meditation and find it useful call it a “meditation practice.”
I HATE even more people who say, “Oh I can’t meditate. It’s stupid. I just sit there and worry or my mind wanders.” Yes, it's supposed to wander. And you're supposed to learn how to quiet it down anyway. For these people, I don’t think they realize that this LITERALLY HAPPENS TO EVERYONE ON THE PLANET WHEN THEY MEDITATE.
The art of meditation is in overcoming these worries and stray thoughts so that you can clear your mind. If you practice you’ll get better and better and be able to truly “meditate” longer. And when you get to that level, it’s pretty powerful stuff. Not only will you be able to think more clearly during the day, but you’re strengthening a very powerful muscle: one that helps you to self-soothe, regulate your emotions better, and separate your true feelings from initial reactions.
It’s a game changer and the results are why everyone is raving about it, but you have to #werk.
I journal like a maniac when I’m upset over something, but lately I've found myself journaling when I really feel something lingering that I need to work through. Sometimes I journal just really stupid things about how pleasant my day way, and then other times I’m surprised by what comes up. I don’t journal because I feel I have particularly interesting things to say, I journal because I feel my anxious thoughts are like a poison in my body and writing them down is the only way to expel them. I typically do this in the morning on the days I work from home and can indulge in a slow morning, but sometimes I do this at night before bed if I'm really wound up.
The Self Care Routines that Get Me Through the Week – PM
My Thrice-Weekly Exercise Class
I’ve been barre-ing for close to a year now and it’s the most consistent I’ve ever been with a workout regimen in my entire adult life. The health benefits are numerous: weight loss, better sleep, less stress, and generally just feeling better about my body. I'd never really cared about working out before (and I think it showed in my figure and attitude) but I realize now how vital it is to stay in shape. And really, it's a lot harder to fall out of shape and come back than just to maintain, so just, keep going with your fitness and it won't be so hard, okay?
Washing My Face
So I have a small confession to make. I wasn't always perfect about washing my face each night in my 20's. I'd stay out late or fall asleep while working on my laptop. As a result, my skin was super shitty, but washing it always felt like more of a chore than an indulgence. Then, I hit 30 and decided to up my skincare game and now I have a ritual and I feel like an old Hollywood movie star with the amount of creams I'm rubbing into my face. I never thought this would happen, but I prefer a clean, scrubbed face to one with makeup. This also helps me wind down for bed.
Working on a New Hobby (Cooking)
I read an article recently (and I hate that I can't find it to link to it – grrr!) but the premise was that creatives/writers need non-verbal activities to help relax. Even reading and watching television involves a lot of words so we're always using that side of the brain. The article recommended yoga, meditation, coloring, listening to classical music and cooking as a way to unwind. Interested in testing out the theory, I picked up cooking as a new hobby and started ordering more HelloFresh boxes with meals so I could practice.
I eschewed cooking in my early 20s thinking it was chic and feminist to do so. Then in my mid-late 20s I got mildly better as a survival/saving money strategy. Now, I actually enjoy it and find myself wanting to try out new recipes and gadgets to further my skill. Like everything else, cooking gets easier when you practice and I'm enjoying getting better at a new “skill” that is totally unrelated to my job or blogging.
Reading for a half hour before Bed
Okay, so I love reading. I was the kid with 900,000 Accelerated Reading points in elementary school and who read every book on the Summer reading list FOR FUN. Nothing feels as good to me as curling up with a book somewhere.
But with a reading/writing heavy job and blogging as a side hustle, many times the last thing I want to do is look at more words on a page. So, instead I’ll spend an hour in front of the TV or on my Instagram before bed. This is bad though because I can feel a noticeable difference in the way I sleep when I take a half hour to read/wind down than when I don’t.
And a deep, full night of sleep is everything. At the very least, this is a self care item we can all indulge in, (and it costs $0!)
What are your favorite self care routines?