Looking back at when I first really noticed the term self-care thrown about, I had a pretty flippant response about it. It seemed a concept for rich people and celebrities and flashed visions of expensive resorts and personal massage therapists in my head. It seemed like something you could only achieve after winning the lottery, marrying rich or saving for years for that special vacation. So naturally, with this snarky view, I promptly pushed it from my head and kept living my life. It really wasn’t until I hit thirty that I really started to take a hard look at my life and how I did things. I was stressed out all the time. I made terrible food choices which upped my weight gain and lowered my energy levels. I took on crazy hours to keep my head above water financially and ruined my internal well-being by going through life like a zombie by working 18 hour days 7 days a week and not taking the time I needed to rest so I could stay healthy while doing my job. I didn’t take the time or responsibility to take a real hard look at my credit and finances so I could live better and smarter and end my paycheck to paycheck lifestyle. I really got an ugly and unflinching look at my life when I moved back home to stay with my parents after failing to maintain a stable life and I hated what I saw. I was overweight, had terrible credit, no career, no plan and no purpose. After getting work a couple of months after I moved back home, I did have money again but I wasn’t really changing my patterns. I still made horrible food choices, I wasn’t planning my spending, I wasn’t developing a plan to be stable doing something I loved and looked forward to doing daily, I worked and went home but didn’t enrich my life with experiences in my free time. Something had to change. I started to utilize the internet to be more than a source of entertainment. I started doing things I hadn’t done consistently in a couple of years, I took back my weekends and started to try more things for enjoyment and not to just get through a day. I started living rather than just existing and by doing so, I started to see a path for a future I could love. How did I accomplish this buffet of action items you ask? I’m glad you asked. I did the following things to improve my life through adding self-care:
- I sat down and went through my bank account and created a budget in Excel to really take a look at what I’m spending and how I could spend more mindfully and more importantly, have savings and improve my credit. I also used the site, Nerdwallet to get my credit report as a tool to help get my credit back on track. Okay, not sexy or fun but necessary if I wanted to HAVE more fun.
- I started using Pinterest as more than a way to pass time or make boards of wish lists and wish lives. I searched for healthy recipes I could easily meal prep on Sundays so I wouldn’t have the excuse of being too tired to get lunch together when I got home from work. By using at most 2 hours on Sundays, I had a week’s worth of lunches for work that were filling, healthier than fast food and budget friendly since unless I was getting really fancy, I would pretty much spend about $25 for a week’s worth of lunches. This also awakened my love of cooking and baking so I was not only being health and budget conscious, I was also adding a hobby that made this new habit more enjoyable and sustainable.
- I started to find ways to incorporate fitness into my life without paying over my kidney and have something I could do at home either when I couldn’t make a class or just needed to decompress. I remembered a site I used called Classpass that gave me lists of studios in my city and nearby areas based on types of workouts I might be interested in and the times I would be able to fit classes into my schedule. Through Classpass, I found a yoga studio and instructor I loved and a new fun but challenging activity called Lyra, a type of aerial acrobatics. The yoga classes helped with my stress levels and dealing with old injuries and Lyra helped me to start rediscovering my resilience in looking at failures as just lessons or goals to smash by continuing to keep at it.
- I started doing small things for enjoyment and discovery. I took random drives to areas I had never been or hadn’t been to in years. Through that, I gifted myself more experiences by just enjoying discovery and letting myself just do things without a plan or destination. I started taking myself out on “dates”. I wanted in my own small way to put an end to the belief that it was wrong or awkward to be a single woman enjoying a meal by herself without judgment. I found that I enjoyed the leisurely time to sit and enjoy my food and a book or people watching without giving off an aura that I’d “given up” or was “undesirable” by having a public meal alone. I felt empowered in claiming myself as a person first and being single second.
- I claimed Sunday as a day of rest but not necessarily laziness. Sunday was my “do nothing day”. By that, I don’t mean that I literally spent a whole day doing nothing, I use Sundays as my “no car day”. I don’t leave the house on Sundays except for special circumstances and use it as a day to sleep in, meal prep for the week, plan outfits for work and for my weekly face mask to get a handle on skin care and honoring my body by taking the time to rest, rejuvenate and nurture it.
- On that same vein of nurturing my body, I purchased a monthly massage membership to further deal with the body pain I have due to old injuries, bad habits and having a desk job. It was a doable amount I could easily put into my budget so I would have the money I needed to live but also have fun when I wanted to and save for future plans.
- I make sure to do what I need to so I could at least get 8 hours of sleep a night. I know I’m getting side-eye over that number, but I’m not a morning person by ANYONE’S stretch of imagination and need to get a good night’s rest to not have people plotting my death. I don’t always succeed but I mostly do and it makes a difference.
- I meditate. I used to have limiting ideas on meditation as well and thought of it as some random new-agey thing that was a complete crock, but as I actually did some research into it and found some great podcasts that broke it down into everyday subjects to focus on, I was on board. Thank you Chel Hamilton and Josie Ong for easy to follow and easy to absorb meditation podcasts to keep me sane!
- Speaking of podcasts, I digest podcasts like food. I’m a curious person and love to learn and attempt to stay current on things. Since I have an iPhone, this is easy for me to do with the iPhone podcast app and Spotify. Between these two apps, I can usually find shows I love for entertainment, learning or just to wind down from the day.
- And lastly, I surrounded myself with inspiration and motivation. Literally. Again, Pinterest to the rescue. I found quotes and memes that would inspire me to action whenever I looked at my walls and was just looking for a rev up at the beginning of my day or when I needed a reminder of what I was trying to build for myself. I gained a bit of the idea from Being Mary Jane season 1 when the title character would put inspirational quotes on post-it notes on her walls. I saw this as a practice I could easily adopt and put in my soul to keep rising.
So, there you have it, my steps for incorporating self-care in a practical, doable way to take back your life and being at peace with your whole self.