Friday, February 14, 2020

20 Ways to Practice Self-Care

20 Ways to Practice Self-Care
* This post contains affiliate marketing links.

Self-care is something I never heard about until a few years ago and now it seems to be mentioned pretty much anytime, anywhere. While I'll be the first to admit that it might be more trend than not at the moment (remember when everyone said "Wellness" all the time?), self-care is something I've always been doing without knowing it, but I was doing it reactively rather than proactively. I think it's also a sign of the times that we're hearing the phrase more and more... We're probably all talking about it because we need it. Increased work hours, the constant feeling that we need a side hustle, the never-ending quest for fitness, beauty & perfection, social obligations and more time spent looking at screens, which also comes with the accountability of always being "on" and available, are probably just a few of the modern lifestyle changes that are leaving us weary and depleted. The race to achievement and perfection is getting to us and it's no wonder. Long gone are the days when people left work at 5pm on the dot and go home for a leisurely dinner and a night on the sofa. We're stretching ourselves thinner than the generations before us, getting less sleep, packing more into our days and the expectations on our time and energy seem to be never-ending. I know I personally struggle with the constant guilty feeling of not doing enough. It shouldn't surprise us that self-care has become a commonly touted phrase and as far as I'm concerned, it's not a bad thing... It's simply a reminder that we need to look after ourselves first before we can do anything else, like putting on your own air mask on an airplane before assisting the person next to you.

In my opinion, there's absolutely nothing wrong with the hustle, ambition and being a real go-getter, but there's equally nothing wrong with knowing when to take a time-out to nurture yourself, invest in your own wellbeing and fuel up for the next round of projects. I've learned more recently that it's absolutely okay to schedule in some self-care time. It doesn't make you lazy or any less hard-working - it's part of the plan and as essential to getting yourself ready for what comes next as much as putting gas in your car is necessary before a long road trip. Even professional body builders know when to lift and when to rest - recovery is vital to the process and not having it slows down results. In the past I've worked myself into the ground, reaching the point where I simply couldn't go on any longer before taking a bit of a time out to look after myself. It's often resulted in me having to being either sick or completely fed up to get some rest or some me-time. Instead of regular maintenance, I was letting it get to the point of needing days or even weeks off before I could get back to the grind. I now realise that an hour, an afternoon or even a whole day of self-care scattered here and there is prevention of the illness or melt-down and vital to the success of my process. Even if I'm hardwired to think that the hustle is the most important thing ever and that holidays are a missed opportunity, I can still see the benefit of creating more stamina and less roadblocks by knowing when to indulge in something that's good for me.

The thing I hear most from people is that they don't have time for self-care, but it really doesn't need to be something that takes away from your schedule, especially if you're busy, have children or you're working at more than one job. I get it... When I was 24 I had 4 different part-time jobs and had to share my bedroom with another girl just to be able to pay my rent. It was so hard! I had practically no alone time, very little time off and a schedule that was difficult to balance. I can now see many years later, that every time I took myself for a manicure or sat down in my favourite coffee shop just for a few minutes, I was giving myself what I needed to get through the day. 5 minutes of me-time can make all the difference and it's certainly better than nothing. As far as scheduling goes now, I've decided to prioritise self-care, looking for gaps in my schedule where I can fit in a break, booking things like facials or massages weeks in advance and identifying at least 1 day off every week when I'm not doing any work. It doesn't always work out the way I'd like, but I have definitely noticed a difference in how much better I feel, my productivity has skyrocketed and my meltdowns are fewer and farther between.

Here are 20 different ways I like to practice self-care...

Lush Bath Bomb

1. Take a Bath
This is number one on my list because it's probably the self-care method I actually commit to most frequently. Whether I'm having a magnesium salt bath for sore muscles or indulging with a bath bomb or fancy bath oil, I love a good hot soak in the tub. Half an hour or more is ideal, but sometimes I'll have just a 10 or 15 minute dip if that's all I can spare because it relaxes me like nothing else. If I can though, I love taking a cup of coffee or tea and a great book with me and letting the world slip away while I soak until my fingertips look like prunes. It's such an escape and it's good for you. Hot water can increase blood circulation, relax muscles, help you sleep and can even help you burn a few calories. Click here to read more about the benefits of a good bath. 

2. Have a Treatment
Occasionally I really need some proper TLC - I think we all do - and when those times arise, I book myself in for a little beauty maintenance. A facial, a massage or your beauty treatment of choice is a great way to take a time out and relax while doing something that's good for you. Sometimes I'm quite good at being proactive and booking these services in advance so I have time to plan for it in my schedule and have something to look forward to, but there are other times when I will cancel part of my day and book in for a facial on the fly because I need to chill and look after myself. Either way, whether it's an express treatment to escape the world for 30 minutes or a couple of treatments back-to-back, a trip to a day spa can be such a nice treat.

coffee and a Hemingway book

3. Take a Book to a Coffee Shop
With the increase of screen time and our busy schedules, sometimes it can be difficult to find the time to read, no matter how much we enjoy it. Having the discipline to pick up a book can also be difficult at home because there are daily life distractions. If you need a little self-care, grab a book you're reading or one you've been putting off for ages, a newspaper or even a magazine and head to your favourite coffee shop or juice bar for an hour or two, order something delicious and spend some me-time indulging in a great story. When you're done, try to schedule in a time to do it again soon... I find that this is a great thing to do on Saturday or Sunday mornings.

4. Meditate
I don't meditate personally, but there's no doubt that it's been helpful for many people and it's something you can do for only a few minutes a day. There are lots of apps to guide your meditation like Headspace or you can do it on your own. Just a few minutes' timeout with some breathing and your thoughts might make all the difference. While I don't meditate per-say, occasionally when I have a gap in my schedule, I'll close my eyes for 10 minutes or less and think about my day or go through my dance choreography just to rest for a little bit and focus my mind on something else and I find it helps to keep me calm and chill. If you'd like to try this on another level, I've recently seen several studios in London that offer guided meditation in a serene space. There's also the option of float tanks, which I have done before and highly recommend trying. (Click here to read more about floating.)

5. Get Your Hair Done
A blow dry or any other kind of hair appointment is always a good idea when you need a little boost. It's a break from your day-to-day schedule, a change in environment and a way to look after yourself. It can also be relaxing to have your hair washed by someone else and with any luck, your blow dry will last for a few days, not to mention make you feel amazing when you're having the best hair day ever. You can go for it, with a full haircut & colour appointment, but if you don't really need that or have the time, find a blow dry bar and get a style that will make you feel sassy.

movie tickets

6. Go to the Cinema
I love going to the cinema more than ever these days because it forces me to put my phone away for at least two hours. Whether you're going with friends, or going solo, a trip to the cinema is a great way to unwind while enjoying something. Grab a snack, sit back and relax. If you're up for it and your budget allows, treat yourself to one of the fancier cinemas with comfy, reclining chairs. Many of these places have a bar and real food, so you can treat yourself to something delicious and a glass of your favourite tipple while you put your feet up. Make it even more cozy by bringing your favourite lap throw... It's the best!

7. Take a Nap
I feel like naps get a bad reputation, but a little afternoon snooze can be the best thing ever! Whether it's a 20 minute power nap, a 1-hour disco nap before heading out on a weekend night or a full-blown 3-hour marathon nap on an afternoon, a little sleep can work wonders and really refresh you.

8. Treat Yourself to Some Fancy New Undies
A new set of underwear is always a good idea and builds a little confidence from the inside out... No one else can see it, unless you choose to show them so a fabulous new bra and panties can be your own little secret confidence booster. Buy a style that makes you feel great in a colour that makes you feel powerful and wear it proudly. Definitely don't banish it to the corner of your underwear saving it for a special occasion. Rock those new knickers on a random Tuesday... You deserve it!

9. Work Out
A sweat sesh is the ultimate way to practice self-care. It's good for you, it's time you dedicate completely to your own progress and the endorphins are an instant mood-booster. If you normally work out, but feel like you want something a bit more special, try signing up for a class or something you don't normally do for an extra treat. I recently signed up for an aerial fitness class because it's something different from my usual walking, Pilates & dance workouts and it was so much fun! If you need a serious dose of self-care and don't mind spending some money, try signing up for an intensive like a yoga retreat or a fitness holiday.

10. Get a Mani-Pedi
Think Elle Woods crying in the L.A. nail salon after reading about Warner's engagement to Vivian... A mani-pedi or even just one of them is a great way to step away from what's going on, maybe have a conversation or maybe not (my nail techs are not at all chatty), clear your head, think things through and get great nails in the process... I have always been a fan of heading to the nail salon when I need a break and my nails always look so great afterwards!

Fresh produce at Borough Market

11. Try a New Recipe
There's something quite therapeutic about following a recipe and cooking... Pottering around the kitchen gives you something to do, but because you're focused on preparing something new, it takes you away a bit because you can't really pay attention to much of anything else. Indulge in the process of choosing a recipe, buying the ingredients and preparing something special. The bonus is that you hopefully get to eat something incredible afterwards that you made yourself! Click here to check out recipes on Pink Julep! 

12. Take a New Class
A class is the perfect way to prioritise some time for you to do something for you. You can learn something new, meet some new people and have time that's dedicated to something that gives you joy. Whether you do something one-off or sign up for a longer class that's more of a commitment, this is an opportunity to expand your horizons. You could try a new fitness craze, learn a new language or improve one you already speak, learn to knit, try painting or sculpting, learn how to ballroom dance or learn about photography. If you're super serious about it, sign up for a night course at a local college or university. The options are endless if you live in a city, but if you don't have a lot of classes available near you, sign up for one online and commit to doing it at a certain time every week for a specified period of time. You'll be glad you did!

13. Watch a Movie or TV Show You Love
Self-care doesn't have to be expensive or even something that you leave your couch for. Sometimes taking a couple of hours out of your day to sit down and watch your favourite movie or binge your favourite TV series is more than enough.

14. Buy Yourself Some Flowers or a New Candle

Fresh flowers are a real mood lifter and a scented candle is always a nice little indulgence. If you haven't treated yourself to either of these in a while, it's time...

15. Treat Yourself to Something New
Have you had your eye on a dress you're dying for, a pair of shoes you really must have or a piece of cookware you've always wanted? Splurge... Either head to the shop of your choice and enjoy the process of finding it, paying for it and carrying the shopping bag around afterwards or order it online and really savour the unboxing. It's good to let yourself have a treat once in a while. Of course I'm not at all suggesting that you buy something you can't afford just because you're tired or you've had a bad day... Some of my recent self-care splurges have been things like a lip gloss, a bottle of bubble bath or a hair accessory, all of which were less than £10. It's not much of a treat if it causes you undue financial stress... 

takeaway burger and fries

16. Order Your Favourite Takeaway
Food you enjoy from the comfort of your own home and the luxury of not having to cook... Sometimes there's nothing better.

17. Buy Some Fabulous New PJ's
Sleepwear is something I feel like we all neglect at some time or another. It's really easy to just sleep in an old pair of shorts and a t-shirt or to let pyjamas get old without replacing them. I usually invest in some new PJ's a couple of times a year because there's nothing like it... If you're in need of a bit of TLC, buy some nice new jammies, head home and put them on early.

18. Treat Yourself to a Fancy Beauty Product
Every year for my birthday I ask for a few products I love that are pricey - to me this is the ultimate indulgence. I don't necessarily need them, but I'll definitely use them and they're always such a treat. Treating yourself to something a bit extra in your beauty routine is the self-care that keeps on giving with every use whether it's a luxury cleanser or a face mask you only use once a week. If budget is a concern, look for travel sizes of luxury products you've always wanted to try, which are often much cheaper.

19. Go for a Walk
A time out with a change of scenery is sometimes all that's needed... A bit of an elevated heart rate and some exercise doesn't hurt either.

20. Schedule Something or Some Time Off
More recently I have learned something about being proactive rather than reactive with my time off and self-care. When I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed or know that I'm about to be super busy for a period of time, I find that actually scheduling some time off or making a booking of some kind really gives me some peace of mind and then I respect that booking and I don't change it or work during that time. I know that I can look forward to it and it helps me power through when I'm exhausted. It could be something as simple as a dinner reservation or a movie ticket. I might be something more extensive like a day off or a holiday. I try to make it relative to the workload if I can. If I know I'm going to be crazy busy for a whole 5-day week, I'll take the entire weekend off and not schedule any work during that time at all - not even checking emails. If I'm just busier than usual for a day or two, I might book a couple of hours off in the afternoon to go do something nice for myself or to see a friend. When I didn't do this, I would simply work myself into the ground and when I got tired, my motivation was terrible and hard to get back. Now that I have a deadline in the form of a date and time when I won't be working, it's easier for me to stay focused when I need to.

How do you practice self-care?

No comments

Post a Comment

Got something to say or a question? Leave a comment…

Blogger Template Created by pipdig