The New Years’ resolutions have been forgotten and Christmas is now a distant memory, it’s the end of February and we’re about to welcome a week of Siberian weather. At times like this, maintaining a “self care routine” can be hard. Self care is more than just bubble baths and face masks, in fact it’s more about taking things back to basics and getting the most out of every day activities.
When life gives you lemons, and I mean proper horrible rotten sour lemons, you can find yourself past the point of making lemonade – and therefore taking care of yourself can be at the bottom of the pile. Having recently been made redundant and just moved back in with my parents after eight years of living away from home, I am keen to share my self care routine for when everything goes to shit.
Step 1. Stop Giving a Shit
You may or may not have read Sarah Knight’s famously flagrant self-help book “The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving A F***”, I have not, however, I imagine this is the sentiment. When life gets tough, be it circumstantial difficulties like a job loss or family illness, or a seemingly random downward spiral of mental illness, then it’s important to give up your pride and stop giving a shit.
At 26 years of age, it’s not ideal for Craig and me to be living in my box room in my childhood home. However, instead of dwelling on where I “should” be by this age, and where everyone else “is” at this age, I try to remain grateful that we have a supportive network able to accommodate us at this time. We have two incredibly loving and caring sets of parents and, for that, we are eternally grateful.
So whether it’s the perfect career, the perfect family or the perfect car, stop giving a shit about what everyone else has and focus on what you have…
Step 2. Make a Gratitude List
Following on from Step 1, I have found that one of the best ways to gently remind myself of how lucky I truly am is by practising gratitude. However, this is more than just saying thank you to the people in your life you are most grateful for.
Think outside of your usual realms, what are you truly grateful for? It could be the cold winter sun, or the lack of traffic on your morning commute, or the last Avocado and Tomato Sandwich in Sainsbury’s fridge… write them down, every day. This will help you to get into the habit of being grateful for the small things and, in the long term, alter your mindset to stop giving so much of a shit (see Step 1.)
Step 3. Go Outside
Do it. Now. Only kidding, but in all seriousness I have found getting outside in the fresh air to be and incredible way to blow away the cobwebs that accumulate when spending hours on end applying for jobs, scrolling through Linkedin and arguing with strangers in the Vegan UK Facebook group.
This point is particularly relevant to me as I now live by the coast, but there areas of natural beauty everywhere. Even if you life in the centre of a bustling city, I’m sure you can find a small patch of green and some trees for a little ramble.
When I’m in areas of natural beauty, I try to keep my phone in my pocket as much as possible (obviously, after I’ve updated Insta stories so everyone knows I’ve left the house). This helps me remain present and truly appreciate the place I am in. I promise, you troubles will all seems so much smaller after a few lungfuls of freezing cold sea air.
Step 4. Turn Off Your Phone
Okay, so you don’t have to turn it off – God forbid, there’s some kind of emergency and I have told you to turn off your device. However, I do make a point of asking myself what my intention is each time I pick up my phone. It’s surprising how many times you pick up your phone each day with no intention other than to aimlessly scroll through social media, then before you know it it’s dark outside and you’ve wasted another evening in front of crappy telly you’re not really watching and scrolling through Donald Trump’s Twitter mentions.
Although this may seem counter-intuitive, but there are a few apps that are pretty good for raising awareness for phone usage. I use SPACE, which counts how many times I unlock my phone and also how many minutes I spend on it, this data can be split by app (why I’m spending 100s of minutes on Instagram is still a mystery to me). SPACE sets targets and also gives you gentle reminders to establish an intention each time you use your phone.
I am also aware of another app called Forest, which is a great option is your phone is more of a distraction than anything else. Forest allows you to plant a “seed”, which will grow into a tree on your home screen for a set amount of time (for example 30 min), and during that time you can focus on your tasks at hand and, hopefully, you won’t end up down the Twitter rabbit hole until your work is done.
Step 5. Move Your Body
I prefer “move your body” to “exercise” as this can be different for everyone, and it’s not just about getting your heart rate up and burning those calories. I try to move every day. For some people, they have a sport or exercise routine that they truly love and can do every day (or at least 6 days a week with a rest day!). For me, I have to keep it varied otherwise I end up piling on the pressure on it stops being enjoyable and becomes a chore. My favourites include yoga, cycling, walking and weight training at the gym. Each has a different level of intensity and can be adapted to how I feel each day, this ensures that the activity remains something I am doing for myself and not a chore I am forcing myself to do.
Hopefully this blog posts helped and gave you inspiration to create a self care routine of your own. If you start when everything has gone to shit, then it can only get better (and easier) from there… right?