A few months ago, I made a promise to myself that I would learn to slow down, take me time and perfect the ideal self-care routine that I needed. In true Amy fashion, it’s taken me a long time to get my butt in gear and actually do it but here I am, finally convinced I’ve cracked the code to looking after myself. Self-care is a concept I’d never heard of until it began creeping up online and now it’s a major, integral part of people’s lives. A quick Instagram search of #selfcare and you’ll be met with 2 million+ hits. Simply search on Pinterest and you’ll be met with blog posts, articles and infographics on its importance. In a society that’s busy non-stop, it’s good that we are starting to recognise that we need to take time for ourselves for both our physical and mental health. But me being me, I was sceptical of it all at first – brushing it off as ‘another internet fad’, but I was wrong.
One massive realisation about myself that I’ve learned over the past 2 years, is that I am a perfectionist. It’s something I’ve always known, deep down but never actually said aloud but it’s a personality trait that has simmered to the surface in the last 24 months, making others able to recognise my strive to overachieve, work hard and stay busy. Failure has never been an option and I put a tremendous amount of pressure on myself to succeed. This determination means all my time and energy is dedicated to pouring my heart into whatever I’m doing, being super critical of myself and not making myself a priority – something that has proven to be detrimental to my mental health. I opened up about my struggle with my mental health on my blog during MHAW and it’s something that has taken a huge weight off my shoulders to know that I don’t have to explain myself anymore. It doesn’t define me. I’m learning to cope/manage my symptoms and most importantly – I’ve learned I can be my own worst enemy and that slowing down is ok. We glorify being busy. That we have to work hard, stay determined or else we won’t achieve our dreams but it’s not the case. We need to strike the right balance work/life balance and curating our own self-care routine can help us do just that. So where do you start?
Write down what you love to do – The best way to start is to write down things you love to do. This can be anything from taking a bubble bath, your favourite workout, cooking, gardening, listening to music, reading – absolutely anything that you get joy from. Once you’ve made this list, step away and come back to it and highlight/asterisk the ones which are most important to you and the ones you wish you could do more often.
Analyse your schedule – Look at your current routine for every day of the week. Are there any gaps of time you could use much more efficiently? Are there any items on this list that you could incorporate into your life daily? For me, I start my morning by just taking 10 minutes to have my breakfast, make a to-do list and listen to a podcast on my commute. This helps me kick start my day peacefully and gives me time to reflect on the day ahead. There are, of course, some tasks you won’t be able to fit in daily but try to look at where you can build in time to carry these out. It doesn’t need to be a massive amount of time – even a few hours of self-care per week can be beneficial to your mental and physical wellbeing. We just have to make it as much as a priority as we do other things.
Get Inspiration – If your routine is growing stale or you just don’t know where to start, there is tons of inspiration out there, especially on the likes of Pinterest, blogs etc. A quick Pinterest/Google search of self-care ideas and you’ll be met with lists with lots of suggestions. The great thing about doing this is you might come across some things you’ve never thought to try or something you previously enjoyed but forgot about.
Have fun with it! – If your routine is starting to stress you out or you’re being hard on yourself for not sticking to certain elements, don’t worry. Self-care is positive but life gets in the way sometimes. It’s designed to be a stress buster, to provide you with that work/life balance and you time so don’t fret about it and if you are, remember it’s to take care of you and shouldn’t be a negative experience.
Be prepared to tweak it – Sometimes we can get into a great routine but if you’re like me and get bored extremely quickly, repetition can start to suck the fun out of doing things. If this happens, look into switching it up by getting reinspired, going back to your original list or switching around the days you do things if you have any flexibility time wise.
Since developing my self-care routine, I have noticed a difference in not only my anxiety but my overall attitude towards looking after myself. Your gal no longer feels the need to justify wanting to take a bubble bath at 1 pm on a Saturday afternoon because if it makes me happy and I have the time, then I do it. It took a while to work out what I wanted to include but I found the above steps I took to be really helpful in helping me decide what works best around my current routine and just how much free time I did have on my hands that I wasn’t maximizing – spending half an hour each morning scrolling social media, I’m looking at you! I’d love to know what you think of these tips. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts below or you can tweet/IG me at whatamydid. Thanks for reading.