Life can be so fast paced. Before you know it, it’s half way through the year and none of your objectives have been ticked off your metaphorical ‘to do’ list – but you have managed to kick ass in the office and attend every social event going. So many of us put work and family at the top of our priority list, caring for others and ensuring we leave behind a lasting impression, but forget to actually look after ourselves. We commonly reject our desires to take some ‘me time’ in favour of making everyone around us happy; it’s often second nature to surrender to the obligations of others, but neglecting our own needs can have a long-term detremental impact on our wellbeing. I’ve got a long-standing problem with self-care, burning the candle at both ends and in the middle until I physically drop or find myself crumbling emotionally, but over the last six months I’ve been making a conscious effort to put myself first. Because if I’m not healthy and positive, I can’t make a healthy and positive impact on others.
The self-care movement we’re currently experiencing focuses on taking time out of your week to treat yourself to a hot bath, a cup of tea or a warm blanket – but the important message behind it, and the societal need that’s driven it, is so much more than that. Our lives have never been busier; the need to be constantly on-the-go or juggling ten different things seems to validate our existence and provide a measure of success. The standard response to the question ‘how are you’ has become a simple ‘really busy’ – because if we’re not busy, are we lazy? Of course not, but the constant pressures of being a modern woman mean we’re juggling more than ever before. We’ve been told for such a long time ‘you really can have it all’ as a way to motivate and illustrate that we’re without restriction, but actually more often than not you’ll probably have a mini breakdown while trying to make it work.
Trying to be a #GirlBoss and kill it in the office, being a domestic goddess and raising a family, juggling an active social life and being there for everybody in need isn’t necessarily as sustainable as it’s made out to be – something has to break, and you don’t want it to be you. I’ve always been the one that people call on and who puts their all into every project, but as I get older I realise I don’t have to be a workaholic to be great at my job or a social butterfly to enjoy a night out with my girlfriends. Saying no in favour of spending time at home reading a book, or just not wanting to spend time with people that aren’t important to me, has given me more time to look after myself; and to be honest I’ve never felt better.
Self care is more than just an occasional bubble bath; it’s the realisation that we need to look after our bodies and minds to have a positive effect on our mental and physical health. The end goal is to reduce stress, maintain a work-life balance, establish healthy relationships and ensure you feel energised every day to be the best you can – something I’m sure we’re all totally on board with. Self-care does involve a lot of introspection, but it can be as simple as identifying the fact you’re tired and need a night in front of the sofa and watching Netflix without distraction. It’s about listening to your body and helping to give it what it needs, rather than spending a fortune on body pampering products or marshmallows. Like any ‘trend’, brands have hijacked the term ‘self care’ as a way of pushing their products or encouraging you to spend more on yourself, but it’s so much more than that (and doesn’t involve spending any money unless you choose to.)
Right now I’m right in the middle of a phone detox / break-up which I’m documenting on my Insta Stories, because I’ve identified the fact I spend far too much time attached to it and not enough time consciously absorbing everything around me. (I’ll be documenting my experience after the 30 day stretch is over.) Actively choosing to leave it in another room, rather than aimlessly scrolling through content I’ve already seen for hours on end, has left me with so much time to clear my mind and undertake other tasks: I’ve been reading books with a cup of tea, tidying and sorting areas of my bedroom I’ve been meaning to do for months, and have even just bought myself a sewing machine so I can finally turn up all those dresses that have been lingering unworn in my closet. Just a small change has made such a difference.
Listening to my body and slowing down has allowed me to identify that I need a couple of nights a week just doing nothing; it’s allowed me to understand that being in the gym without a podcast allows my mind to wander off to find thought and inspiration; it’s allowed me to get to grips with the fact that I need time with my loved ones over a cup of coffee more often than my diary has historically permitted; it’s allowed me to invest in my own wellbeing by undertaking acupuncture and learning the art of crystal healing (more on that here😉 it’s allowed me to realise that my work doesn’t define me and that I can make an active choice to put away the laptop when my brain starts to frazzle. Slowing down and looking after ourselves will benefit us in the long-term, so the importance of a little selfishness should never be overlooked.
If you need some inspo, here are some easy ways to take a moment for yourself and refresh the mind…
READ A BOOK
In my opinion there’s nothing more invigorating than getting comfortable with a great book and escaping to another place; leaving my phone in another room allows me to delve into another story without distraction, permitting my mind to find inspiration from the words on a page. Leading such a digital life, sometimes the simple turning of a page can bring so much joy.
DO SOME EXERCISE
Whether you pop to the gym, practice some yoga from the comfort of your living room, or simply go for a walk, the body craves movement as much as the mind does. Getting those endorphins rushing helps provide clarity, wakes us up and leaves a lingering positive outlook too – so get moving.
FIND A NEW HOBBY
Find something you love to do, even if you’re not very good at it, and take time out of your week to practice. It could be as simple as colouring in or calligraphy, learning a new language or picking up a pair of knitting needles – the important thing is to be inspired and find passion, for you and you alone.
Occasionally being still and breathing deeply is all you need to feel invigorated. Whether you choose to do this while soaking in a hot bath or lying on your bed in your comfiest PJs is up to you, but the point is to take a moment out and focus on your breathing in order to become reconnected to your body. Sometimes deep breaths are all you need to find your way out of a problem, or to ease your anxieties.
Self-care is almost the ‘antidote’ to our current society and the daily pressures placed upon every one of us, but how you practice that is totally up to you – even if it is a clichéd bubble bath and a cup of hot chocolate. The important thing to remember is that we need to look after our bodies in order for them to work effectively in the long-term. If it works for you, run with it; just don’t forget how great you can feel afterwards.
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