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Have you ever noticed how tiredness becomes a competition?
You know what I mean: you’re having a chat at work, and you mention you are tired (standard morning chat for me let’s be real). Your colleague will also say they are tired but they probably had an hour less sleep than you. Your boss will then tell you about how his screaming baby kept him up all night and he is decidedly the most tired, and so is crowned the winner of the “I’m soOoOo tired” competition.
Everyone is always so tired, because they are so busy because being busy means being productive right?! It’s a good thing and aspirational, right?!
We almost seem to pride ourselves on being busy, calendars filled to the brim with little time left to squeeze in meals and sleep.
Being busy is not good. Being busy means heading towards burnout and quickly. When you are so busy that your only downtime is sleep, you end up feeling out of sync and frustrated with everything. I know that when I get like this, everything is a chore and nothing seems to go very well. Sound familiar? Let me help you with 4 of my best tips to make yourself and your self-care a priority.
MINDFULNESS NOT MINDLESS
Stop letting time tick away on tasks that don’t need your attention at that moment. I bet you can already think of a big one. You know exactly what I’m getting at, because it’s probably my number one time-sucking-pointless activity too. The SOCIAL MEDIA abyss.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE social media. I’m a blogger and a basic biatch, of course I love it. But there are things about it that I don’t love.
That sinking feeling you get when you just wanted to check your notifications on Twitter, and suddenly you realise that you have reached tweets from Thursday night (it’s Sunday). Or when you just want to *quickly* get up to date on Instagram to find yourself scrolling through your ex-boyfriend’s sister’s best-friend’s feed. And it’s dark outside. Okay, it’s 12AM. And you have work tomorrow which means getting up at 5:30am. And now you don’t have time to have that bubble bath, or to lay out your clothes for the next day, or any of the other little things you had planned to make your life a little bit easier or at least a little more relaxed.
If you find that you feel refreshed and happy after a social media binge, then by all means keep doing it cos you’re obviously doing it right! But if you find after that you feel a bit pooped then maybe it’s time to get your habits in check.
I strongly believe that your self-care routine shouldn’t be thoughtless. Obviously a lot of typical self-care activities are based around doing little like meditating, colouring and taking a bath. But that doesn’t mean that you should do them mindlessly. Try giving them a purpose.
Treat these activities as special meetings with your boss, and the boss is you.
Okay, that sounds a bit weird but hear me out: if you have a meeting scheduled with your boss at work, you don’t just cancel it because something else (that’s probably not a priority) comes up. You have your meeting set to discuss a certain issue and that is what that time is dedicated to.
See your me-time in the same way. The moment you give that bath or run a purpose, you know you can commit to it because it is a means to an end, and you have given it the importance it requires. I like to think that with meditation, it is not emptying the mind, but quieting the mind for a while. You’re not trying to forget or zone out but you are intentionally turning the volume down on that loud inner voice that says there are more important things to do.
Give these things the importance they deserve and cut your time spent on mindless, unfulfilling activities.
LITERALLY PENCIL IT IN
I’m assuming you use a calendar, diary or even your phone to keep track of your plans. I like to use a combination of all three as a system to keep my life together (even though I feel like it’s falling apart most of the time #millenialproblems). If you’re not using at least one of these already, then it’s time to start.
When you make a plan, I bet you put it straight into your phone or diary. I know I do. I always create a new event in my iPhone calendar then mark it on my wall calendar when I get home as I find having it all laid out visually helps me to plan around activities.
I want you to treat your self-care the same.
That’s right, pencil that shit in. Make an appointment with yourself. Block out the time that is dedicated to you and make sure you don’t miss your slot. I find that actually scheduling this in really helps me to keep everything else ticking along. If I miss that slot, or if I’m late, then it’s going to affect the rest of my plans so I can’t miss it for the risk of spoiling the rest of my day.
Having this as a visual reminder is key as well as the action of scheduling. If you can see that little slot booked out then you know you have already created the time for your self-care routine. You don’t want to break the little contract you have with yourself.
Don’t let yourself down, you wouldn’t miss an appointment at the dentist now would you?
WORK OUT WHAT WORKS FOR YOU
Some people need to have ‘me-time’ every day. Some people need to have solid evenings once a week dedicated to self-care. Neither is wrong or right, but finding something that works for you and creating a good balance is vital for adding to your routine.
The best way to find something that works for you is looking at things you already do.
Do you see your daily gym session as self-care? Shower meditation, anyone? I’m 100% serious. Maybe turn your 2 minute shower into a 5 minute mini meditation session. We all end up thinking deep thoughts in the shower so why not make a habit of it?
What I’m trying to say is this: if you are already doing things you enjoy that help level you out and bring a feeling of content or accomplishment once you’ve completed it, then you are well on the right track.
Find something that has a meaning to you. Now you and I both know that we can find huge lists of self-care activities on Google and Pinterest, which are an amazing starting point (don’t get me wrong) but don’t just do things cos they’re on a list of ’70 self-care ideas’ on Pinterest (although I’ve got a great board for it if you need some inspiration).
You need to do something that works for you and something that has some sort of meaning to you. It doesn’t have to be deep and spiritual – in fact I think that scares a lot of people away from the whole idea – but it is worth looking at your current routine and reassessing the value you put on things. Perhaps you can reconsider your daily gym sesh: stop thinking of it as a chore and add some weight to the euphoric feeling you get after (cheers endorphins) or maybe think about your daily dog walk as a way to get in touch with nature and spend some time with your pet.
Evaluate what you already have. Be efficient.
Basically, if it doesn’t make you feel any better, then don’t do it. Try something else, but don’t do something on a list if you know it won’t suit you. Definitely try things that you find yourself on the fence about though as it will get you out of your comfort zone and introduce you to new ideas.
HABIT, ROUTINE, RITUAL
This is my favourite bit. If you start doing all of the things described above (or even just one) you will start to make things a habit. I think it’s often said that it takes 21 days for something to become a habit and while I can’t vouch for this number, if you repeat something regularly it will definitely become part of your regular routine.
Now – routine is a much scarier word. For me it has a strange mixture of both positive and negative connotations. Like, I know that routine sometimes corresponds with getting into a rut. But then routine also gives me sanity and makes me feel organised as if I’ve got my shit together. I hope you feel the same. Make sure that you are always enjoying your self-care activities and not just doing them because you think you should (see the last section) because getting into a rut is when you stop enjoying things and if you look out for it, it’s so easy to avoid.
Something becomes a ritual when you have to do it to feel right. So don’t go thinking of some sort of voodoo mad shrine type thing (although if you want to do that please go ahead – no judgement here) and I like to see this as the ultimate goal. After a couple of weeks of actually going for a proper self-care routine, think of the things that you really enjoy and feel weird if you miss or can’t fit them in. That’s a great way to start thinking about your ritual. Again, for some of you it will be a daily practise but for others a whole dedicated slot on a particular day. Whatever suits you and keeps you above water you should go for.
For me I like to do a few little things in the week, like my nails and my fake tan (I consider these self-care because they make me feel good and the actions themselves are therapeutic. Everybody is different – pretty sure my mum’s is cleaning 😉 ) I also have my yoga on Wednesday although I do try to have a few sessions throughout the week, this is the one I can’t miss.
Yours might be a long walk on a Sunday morning, a session of reading and a cup of tea or even writing a list of things you want to do. The possibilities are endless and it’s all completely up to you.
Your self-care routine is completely up to you.
I really hope this can help you (even if it is just a little bit) so please let me know if you change up your routine or try out any of these tips, I’d love it if I was able to help anyone out!
Til next time,