We have all felt frazzled at one time or another and self-care has been the last thing on our minds. I had gotten to the point where I was near exhaustion and close to giving up on everything. At times like this, it is easy to forget about looking after yourself; your brain is in overload and you just want to power through all the things you need to do. Due to looking after other people’s needs and having deadlines to meet, you start to forget about the simple tasks that make you happy and neglect them. This descends into a downward spiral which can lead to depression, anxiety and exhaustion. I have been in this position at many points of my life.
The Beast from the East
Here in the UK, we tend to get snow in January/February and this year was no exception. The Beast from the East had the whole country in panic; the news predicted chaos and people where emptying supermarket shelves quicker than you could say apocalypse.
I was at the end of my tether; I had exams to practice for, coursework to mark, a family who hardly saw me and to top it off I spent nearly an hour trying to get out of the work car park due to the snow and ice. I was at the point of giving up, negativity washed over me and the demons were swirling around my head. Then, like a knight in shining armour, the Beast from the East struck and gave me a lifeline, a snow day.
I needed this time
Being stuck in the house and unable to do the mammoth amount of work I needed to do at work gave me the opportunity to have a self-care day. A self-care day involves putting your needs above others for a short time in order to replenish your troubled mind. The idea of self-care can often come across as a selfish act and one of overindulgence but it has a vital role in our fast-paced society. Our brains cannot cope with over thinking and the constant stress that occurs within our lives.
It is often parents that say ‘I don’t have time for myself’ and so battle on regardless only to feel completely overwhelmed. If you are overworked, stress and exhausted, how can you do what you need to in a productive manner? A good analogy is when on an aeroplane; it is advised for you to put on your own oxygen mask before attending to others who need help, you cannot help others if you are in need of care yourself.
Time to take stock and refocus
The unexpected snow day prompted me to take time to do the things that feed my soul and make me happy. I spent the time doing the things I enjoy and recharging my brain. The time I took allowed me to reboot and put things into perspective and I went back to work feeling energized and ready for the challenges ahead. I might not have done all ten of these activities in that self-care day but these are all things that I have done when focusing on myself.
10 things I do on a self-care day
I have been using mindfulness for a while now and have been practising it more recently as I am partaking in a course in it. Mindfulness is similar practice to meditation but with the focus being about experiencing life in the present moment and taking in what is around us rather than letting our thoughts run away with us.
There are many mindfulness resources out there from apps to videos so you can choose for yourself which works best for you. I would highly recommend you check out the Oxford Mindfulness centre as they have tons of resources, you can also get the site as an app.
Showing gratitude goes hand in hand with self-care and a healthy mind. Being grateful or showing gratitude does not have to be a big thing; it can be the small things that make you smile. Did you enjoy your cup of coffee in the morning, is the sun shining or has someone said or done something to make you smile? I often just take delight in the simple things like the smell of my favourite perfume or having the support of my family. I write down things that I am grateful for each month in my bullet journal and when I need reminding how grateful I am I will read it back to myself. If positivity breeds positivity then a gratitude journal is a great way of keeping you on track and seeing the brighter side of life.
Indulgence does not have to cost a fortune although if splurging on a luxury item that you have the money for is definitely a pick me up. You could indulge in your favourite food, film or just indulge time in something that is just for you. It is interesting the number of times I have said ‘I don’t have the time’ when I have wasted thirty minutes on social media.
Time is such a precious thing in our rat race society; do you deserve to give some time for yourself over others? It is often the issue that we have so little quality time that we waste what little we have scrolling on our phone and checking social media because we are unsure what to do. You deserve time to yourself to do what you want and what inspires you, do not let fear of being judged selfish or lazy deter you from spending at least some time in the busy week focusing on yourself.
Avoid the past
Dwelling on past events and mistakes is not productive in the long run, after all, it cannot change it, you can only learn from it. I remember at times of great sadness I would wallow in and enable the feelings of sadness. I would listen to songs I knew would make me feel sad, I would watch films that I knew upset me, I would look at past pictures with sadness; why was I torturing myself?
Living in the past can have detrimental effects on your state of mind in many ways. I feeling of looking back nostalgically can make you lose sight of the positives of life in the present. It can also influence your ability to make clear and rational judgements.
Feed the soul
Whether you love listening to music, reading a book or just catching up on your ‘guilty pleasure’ TV show, feeding your soul with the things that make you smile is a great way to take care of yourself. I adore Ru Paul’s Drag Race and will often spend some time on the weekend with a big cup of coffee on my own after I have put my daughter down for her nap. The talent I see feeds my creative streak and the drama element feeds my inner gossip. It is a guilty pleasure that I love to indulge in along with shows like Real Housewives and my favourite YouTube channels.
On my self-care/snow day, I fed my soul further by getting the arts and craft materials out with my son and making pictures with glitter glue and tissue paper. I was feeding my soul on two different levels, being creative with colours and also spending quality one on one time with my son which is something that does not happen as much as I would like.
The day of the Beast from the East I luckily found out the school was closed before I put my makeup on so I used the opportunity to have a skin care day. I took extra care to keep moisturiser through the day and I put a moisturiser mask on and left it to sink in through the day. After all of that, I then put a generous amount of facial oil on and left it to sink into my skin. I am not a person that likes to have a long, hot bath but I do love having a shower, putting fresh PJ’s on and having fresh sheets on the bed, these things make me feel alive.
Another thing I love to do is to paint my nails; I have so many different nail polishes and feel like I am complete when my nails are done. I love matching the colour of my nails to my mood and once done I will take time to admire my handiwork. I have just recently packed away my autumn/winter polishes and am eager to bring out the spring polishes the next time I want to pamper myself.
Have a technology break
Technology can often fuel the constant cycle of stress and over thinking. You may just say ‘I will just check my emails’ but then you end up losing time getting caught up with things and that is not having a break. Likewise, social media might be emphasising your feelings of stress and insecurity; comparing yourself to others is not healthy for the mind.
It is time to put the phone away for a while, you will not miss anything important. I sometimes place my phone at the other side of the room when playing a board game with my husband as I know I’m too lazy to use checking it.
Do your favourite activity
This may be a little obvious but how long do you spend on activities you enjoy? I have many activities I enjoy doing and sometimes they are swept to the side when life gets in the way. I have always loved drawing since I was a young child; I would spend hours copying cartoon characters and doodling. I have experimented with many different forms of art and crafts over the years but I have always come back to drawing.
I currently use sections of my bullet journal to draw in; I started off using a colouring book and soon discovered I do not find it stimulating enough to keep going. I used to do zentangling a couple of years back and I have resurrected this style of drawing recently. I love the concept that you have smaller sections and you doodle in each one to create a whole image.
I find this idea easy to fit in with my lifestyle as sometimes I only get ten minutes to do some drawing. I mainly do this in the evenings while watching TV, it helps to keep me focused on the TV show or film and also it stops me looking at my phone all the time.
Get some fresh air
Nothing beats getting outside and breathing in the fresh air; I especially like it when it is slightly colder and the air is crisp. Take a moment to connect with the outside world and appreciate the beauty of the things around you.
On that snow day, I took the opportunity to get some fresh air and to spend time with my son making a snow lorry in the back garden. Although we were only out for roughly an hour, the cold air and the outdoor activity of shovelling snow made me feel alive. The activity helped me reconnect with my body and I felt twinges in my back I had forgotten and it also gave me precious time with my son which filled me with joy as I had not had much opportunity to spend time with him as life was so hectic.
Some people might feel like this is the last thing you do on a self-care day but I find planning helps me on these occasions. Life can be so stressful and so many things could be whirling around your head that you just need a break from planning anything and if that works for you then that is great. However, I like to be in control of things and I find that I am at my worst when things spiral out of my control.
Focusing your attention on planning something like a future event or holiday can divert your attention away from current worries. When the snow hit us I retreated to my trusty bullet journal and casually started filling in gaps that had appeared and things I needed to remember. I am planning my spring declutter and clean which makes me feel productive.
Do you practice self-care, are there days when you focus on mending yourself and recharging your batteries? What activities do you like to do at times like this, I would love to know what you do when you have some much-needed reboot time?
Ciao for now beauties xx