Self-care has become somewhat of a hot topic over the past few years, with books, tv shows and even entire courses being dedicated to it.
It has almost become a commercial thing; something you can buy and once you’ve spent the cash, it’s yours.
In reality, this isn’t the case. In it’s most basic form, in my opinion, self-care is looking after yourself, making sure you don’t burn out, resting and doing what you enjoy. Ultimately, it doesn’t have to cost a penny, unless you want it to.
Self-care varies from person to person, and can be as simple as having a cup of tea in your favourite mug every morning, or it can be spendy and involve a rather large ASOS order after a hard day (guilty).
However, there are several things that come up time and time again when it comes to self-care and, to be honest, I’m pretty shitty at a few of them.
I think we can all practice self-care every day, but sometimes it might feel out of our reach. So, I thought I’d share the self-care tips that aren’t for me, and what I do instead.
These tips work wonders for some people – and maybe some day they will for me too! – but at the moment, there are other things that leave me feeling more relaxed, content and a lil bit warm on the inside.
Staying away from your phone in the morning/at night
We all know how damaging social media can be for our mental health, so no wonder we’re advised time and time again to stay away from our phones at two of the most crucial and influential times of our day.
But because of my job, my blog and, let’s be honest, my incessant desire to scroll through Instagram, I can’t avoid going on my phone at those times of the day.
It’s the quickest way for me to catch up on news, emails and reply to messages in the morning for work, and at night having a flick through Instagram, Pinterest and Buzzfeed Health is one of my favourite ways to end the day.
What I do instead: I’ll admit that social media really does take its toll on me sometimes, so I’m glad to have learned to recognise when I need to put my phone down for a few hours.
I try to leave it in another room for a few hours each evening while I watch Netflix, write a blog post or tick things off my to-do list, and it always leaves me feeling refreshed.
The benefits of meditation are endless. From reducing stress, anxiety, improving sleep and even helping depression, it seems like meditation is one of the best things a person can do.
I know meditation is a practice, and that you get better at it the more you do it, but every time I’ve tried, my mind just wanders off (no matter how much I try to bring it back) and I end up worrying about even more things than before.
I’m definitely not giving up on meditation, and hope that one day I’ll have the skills and patience to practice properly, but it’s just not for me right this minute.
What I do instead: I’ve gotten better at practicing mindfulness, which is similar to meditation in some ways in that it’s about being present in the moment.
I do it when I feel myself getting really overwhelmed or stressed, and take notice of simple things like my surroundings, what I can hear, what day it is etc. I don’t think there’s one right way to practice, but that’s what works for me and it only takes about two minutes to bring me back to earth.
I’ve also done restorative yoga (Google it if you’ve never tried it – it’s amazing!) which I adore, so that kind of ties into the two.
Exercising regularly is one of the pillars of self-care. It strengthens your body and mind, releases endorphins and keeps you in good shape. But having a strict exercise routine isn’t something that works for me.
People say to schedule in exercise each week like you would a meeting, but that just results in me feeling under major pressure to go, dreading it, and then feeling huge guilt when I don’t go. That ain’t what I’m aiming for.
What I do instead: One of my goals for this month is to go to the gym more often, because it really does make me feel great, but I just need to nail down actually going and being motivated.
I *try* to go to the gym on one of my days off, but some weeks it just doesn’t work out (literally). I also try to go to a restorative yoga class (in a dream world I’d go once a week), but sometimes months go by without me going.
Most weekends I go on a long walk along the beach or seafront because I love the sea! Basically I try to do at least one of those three things each week. I also have a short walk to/from public transport getting to work, so that counts as exercise, right?
Getting eight hours sleep a night
For someone who loves sleep so much, I’m pretty bad at this one. We all aim for the golden eight hours, but it’s not always that easy.
I get up at 5:30am for work most week days, meaning I’d need to be asleep by 9:30pm each night if I wanted eight hours. The problem is, that’s nearly impossible to do! Between relaxing, doing blog work, trying to exercise, spending time with family/friends/my boyfriend, doing life admin, making dinner and just generally living, 9:30 comes way quicker than you’d expect.
I hate to say it, but most weeknights I get around 6-6.5 hours sleep, which is waaaaay too little for me. As a result, I can sleep for between 12 and 14 hours on the weekend, eating into my precious free time! Not ideal.
What I do instead: While I can’t always get all of the sleep I need during the week, I make sure I get time every day to relax by myself after work. I watch Netflix, tv, have a bath, read a book or just go on my phone. It’s not as good as sleep, but it gives me time to rest and restore myself (lol, I sound like a car) before I get going again.
I’m working on maintaining a regular sleeping pattern – and think my exhaustion and extreme sleeping at the weekend also come down to low iron levels – but it’s not easy!
As I said at the beginning, self-care is such a personal thing and can mean so many things for different people. However, I really do believe that we can all incorporate it into our everyday lives in one way or another, and that it’s one of the most beneficial and important things a person can do for themselves.
Other ways I practice self care include; getting my nails done every three weeks, having tea in my favourite mug, spending time with the people I love, making good meals and buying a chocolate bar (or five) when I really want one.
I hope you enjoyed this slightly different post – please let me know in the comments what your self-care tips are, I’d love to hear!