It’s been a pretty hectic couple of weeks / months and after a pretty dramatic schedule of events (personal + work-related), I’ve finally found a hot minute to sit down and ponder.
Adulting – it’s a pretty funny concept that has recently become part of my daily vernacular, alongside a combination of words like “I” and “can’t“. As much as we like to find memes about how adulting is an intense part of life and how much we’d rather not have to deal with it, unfortunately, we are at that stage of life where one simply can’t avoid it!
Going from living the broke student life to getting casual employment to having two jobs (both casual) has been a bit of transition over the last 10 / 11 months. Sure, I have mad respect for those who are able to juggle jobs and uni simultaneously, because the couple of times I tried, I failed…massively. But while I would like to consider myself a late bloomer (not to mention a slow learner), I was able to eventually go down that path, towards the last quarter of my uni degree. I loved the idea of saying that I was a working individual who was in the final stages of getting my Masters Degree. Like it or not, you gain a lot more respect by saying you do either (as well as both)!
Life got a lot more interesting and full-on post-graduation, where I have somehow managed to secure two jobs, take on a volunteering role in a hospital, and have continued to keep up with my original passion of freelance writing. While consistency is still a challenge for me, I do love the ability to keep myself busy all the time.
But I now face this dilemma on the daily – when is it okay to stop and take a breather? I’m not saying I want to step away from any of these ventures, because I love being put in contact with a myriad of people, who come from versatile backgrounds and can provide a bountiful amount of knowledge and skills to learn from. It would be safe to consider myself a people person, where I love connecting with different and unique individuals with larger-than-life personalities. It becomes easier to appreciate a person the more you get to know them. But lately, with the many commitments that I’ve taken on myself, I have found to struggle a lot with being able to exercise these elements called “self-care” and “self-love”.
OK I know how this sounds, but hear me out! I’m not here to complain about how life is hard! On the contrary, I’m so grateful for the position that I’m in right now. I live in a bloody beautiful country. I have some incredible friends here, who have become close friends and family in my home away from home. I have a very loving boyfriend, who has been my constant for the last (nearly) 3 years. I have 2 degrees and am able to commit myself to a diverse range of jobs on the daily. Life is pretty damn sweet and I validate that 100%!
I’m more curious about how self-care and self-love work. How do people find the time to hit pause on the chaos of life and unwind – even if it’s only for a couple of minutes. I have been seeing a lot of businesses on social media acknowledge the importance of these two elements in every single person’s life lately… and rightly so! I love these ideas that people are starting to incorporate into their daily grind, because it is one of the most underrated and neglected aspects that, in turn, impacts on your ability to let you make the most of life overall!
Through some light research and reading, I learned that self care and self love are practices that aren’t one of those that are ‘one use only’. This list entails activities that you can do more than once and you can do them whenever you find yourself with a bit of free time. It isn’t meant to be a chore, but instead, it should be seen as something fun that can be done to make yourself feel good.
While I’m still finding ways to practise this, I found these ways quite helpful (not to mention r-e-l-a-x-i-n-g as heck):
- Prepare a Lush bath (~30 – 45 minutes)
There are so many sensual bath bombs to choose from, but these have been my consistent favourites – Intergalactic, The Experimenter, The Sex Bomb, and the aptly named Cheer Up, Buttercup.
(and you end up looking like a sparkly unicorn – how good!)
- Practise the Fae and Wildling skincare ritual (~20 – 30 minutes)
This involves all-natural ingredients that are mixed together as a face mask / face oil – your face is left feeling softer and moisturized like a baby’s bottom! Plus, it gives you a chance to do absolutely nothing, while the ingredients work their magic on your tired skin.
- Disconnect from all the technology (~30 minutes – 24 hours)
You’d be surprised at how much of the virtual noise is eliminated, simply by turning off your device(s)! I found this really awesome track that is played during “relaxation time” at the school where I work! All you do is lie in your bed, have the windows open, have the blinds down, move all the devices into another room and place them all on silent (not vibrate), close your eyes and get lost in this track.
- Play the ocean drum (~5 minutes)
Holy moly! So, I came across this incredible music instrument the other day and my brain felt like it was loosening up from all the stress knots that I’ve been carrying around in my head over the last couple of months! It’s a bit pricy, but, if you are a lover of the ocean like me and enjoy the sound of the waves, then this is something that you *need* in your life stat.
- Block out some time for a regular hobby (~20 minutes – 2 hours)
Find something that you like doing for fun! It should be an activity that can either help you get your fitness up, your energy levels flowing, and or generally put you in a good mood! For me, I found driving to an unknown suburb / part of town, photographing areas deep in the suburbs, walking in the little lanes of the CBD, and reading about topics of interest – either via the Internet or through a physical book to be quite refreshing. Plus, by dedicating some time to any / all of these activities regularly would also mean creating a sense of excitement and consistency towards enjoying a bit of downtime.
- Catch up with friends (~30 minutes – 4 hours or more!)
This should go without saying, but nothing beats stress in the nuts than some quality time with your pals! It doesn’t matter if you see each other every day or are catching up once in a couple of full moons – make the time and make the effort to see your friends! If they’re the awesome kind, they’ll listen to you vent (and vice versa), they’ll make you laugh in the simplest of ways (to the point where you may have a laughing fit), and they’ll uplift your spirit in ways that may as well be deemed impossible!
- Cuddle with your furry pal (~2 hours to all day)
Have a pet? Are they the kind that you can cuddle with? Then, quick sticks! The beauty of this is that you can do it at any point – whether you’re doing work on your laptop, are lying in bed and contemplating a sleep-in, or simply want to switch off temporarily, your pup or kitty will be a good companion who you can talk to in a judgment-free zone.
- Every time you think of a negative, counteract it with a positive (~10 minutes)
This is such an amazing way from preventing a stressful situation from snowballing. I am one of those people who will think with their heart and not with their brain. This often results in me over-thinking a small situation, which ends up in ‘catastrophic mode’, where the worst possible scenario becomes the only probably end to any situation. Spoiler alert – it doesn’t end well (but you probably already knew that)! I found this really cool tactic, where I have my book of ‘voices’ and I pen down a scenario that stresses the heck out of me. Then I spend a good 5-10 minutes to try and think of a way to not be overwhelmed by it and instead find a rational and logical way of dealing with it. 9 times out of 10, it works!
- Splurge on something that you’ve been eyeing for the longest time (~20 – 30 minutes)
Whether you have a consistent amount of money coming in or have been putting some money aside as part of your savings, it wouldn’t hurt to truly ‘treat yo’self’ every once in a while. Whatever you do, make sure it’s worth it and try not to guilt-trip yourself into thinking you don’t deserve it, because you do! Everyone deserves to feel special and loved. If it means buying that gorgeous dress or that nifty new gadget and if you think it won’t add to your financial hardship, then go ahead and make the splurge count!
- Visit your local garden or park (~30 minutes)
There’s nothing like a gorgeous day in the sunshine, where you can lie down on the grass and watch the tree leaves swaying from one side to the other. Whether you’re out to get a tan or prefer to relax under the cool shade, this is a great way to switch off temporarily and focus your attention to the nature vibes all around you.
- Feeling overwhelmed? Reach out to the Mental Health Chat Lines (~ 30 minutes – 1 hour)
It’s okay to not be okay! I cannot stress this enough – it is never a wrong thing to ask for help. If you’re not comfortable with talking about your mental health with someone you know, then approaching one of these services can be a great way to gain a bit of perspective, talk about things that are clouding your mind, body, and soul, and get help in a discreet manner. While the stigma around mental health is still unfortunately very significant, it is very much a real issue and you should not feel the need to discount caring for yourself and your mental health. I have always struggled to open up about my thoughts because I’ve entered some seriously dark spaces, which didn’t seem to have a way out. I have reached out to friends and some have been super supportive, while others…well, they found it challenging to be there for me. And that’s okay! Not everyone is equipped to deal with the harsher aspects and may even find the mere discussion of the term ‘depression’ or ‘anxiety’ to be confronting. That’s where the following services have stepped in through my own contact with them and they have served me so well. I cannot recommend talking to these individuals enough – at the end of the day, they are there to help you through it. There were times where my mind went into catastrophic mode (as I explained earlier) and having a couple of chats with the team behind these organizations were able to de-cloud those thoughts with a bit of compensatory strategies, meditation exercises, and real talk.
Lifeline // Beyond Blue // R U OK
If you’re like me and always put others first, then know that you deserve your share of TLC from time to time! I hope these little tips come in handy, in case you find yourself lost and wondering what self care and self love look like. This is far from an exhaustive list and I invite you to let me know if there are other strategies that you have found useful in helping you achieve a sense of zen.