I don't usually make it a point to do blog posts inspired by National 'Days' as I think there are too many of them already, but I only just heard of International Self-Care Day (which is only 6 years old as I've learned!) the next day! Maybe it's just not that big in Canada? Regardless, I spent some time thinking about it, and here goes!
Before I begin, as somebody who has family members who live with mental health issues, and having had some mental health challenges in my past, I think this is an extremely important topic that we need to talk about. A big thing to note is that while self-care can work and help many people, medication and treatments are VERY important parts of the process, and should also be considered major parts of self-care. I've gone to therapy on and off throughout my life and while I don't currently take medication, I have in the past, and I value the benefits and relief it can bring by helping your body and mind regulate themselves. It's hard to talk about self-care without mentioning these types of treatments.
My Favourite Self Care Habits
- I always clear at least one night of the week to spend at home & cook.
I used to be the kind of person who had 2-4 jobs at any given time, including writing gigs and other projects and commitments that ate up hours of my time. But what I didn't schedule was a lot of leisure time. I spent years woefully under-rested and unhealthy simply because I was doing what I assumed I was supposed to, being busy and working to pay off my loans and save for the future. The problem is that I was often spending a lot to make up for the time I DIDN'T have to be home making lunch or having a homemade meal.
It wasn't until my late twenties that I had a friend encourage me to come to her place so I could have some dinner with her and work if I needed, and more often than not I ended up taking time to chat and hang out instead. It took a her intervention to show me to take some time for myself. Now every Monday I stay home, and my boyfriend and I just have dinner, do laundry and watch TV or something, and it's GREAT. We use Chef's Plate twice a week and Monday is the day we pick the more challenging meal to make together. If you want to get three plates for free, use my referral code and let me know what you think!
- Doing my nails & pampering myself
I know this sounds like an obvious way to take care of yourself, but for somebody who didn't spend a lot of time pampering myself when I was younger, it took me some time to figure this out. While I was blessed with decent skin until my late twenties (it all catches up to you!) I was a CHRONIC nail biter almost all my life. And the only way to stop biting was to CONSTANTLY apply polish. It tooks years for me to be able to trust myself with bare nails for more than a day! Now, I love to do my nails because it means I can't (easily) be on the computer or on my phone, so I usually listen to music or a podcast while I apply, and it zones me out for anywhere from 15-30 minutes depending on the level of nail art I'm doing. Lately I'm leaning more and more towards polishes that offer long-lasting coverage, and Revlon's ColorStay Gel Envy is doing the trick. It doesn't require a basecoat, and the topcoat is so glossy and gel-like that it adds an OOMPH and shine to anything it touches.
And while I don't often do it simultaneously (it's hard washing off a face mask when your nails are still drying!) I like to use masks, whether clay or gel or sheet masks, at least 2-3 a week, also while kicking back with some tunes or a podcast. Currently I'm trying to finish a STACK of Japanese face masks my friend brought back for me this spring (Thanks Tash!) and a small stash of Glamglow and Fresh that I've been trying to clear.
- Reading all the things
One lesson I've learned over and over again is that while I can handle console games, I am VERY susceptible to mobile games. Whether it's a Korean real-time boy texting game like Mystic Messenger, or Super Mario Run, or Fire Emblem Heroes, I find myself coming home and sitting on the couch for 'just a few minutes' that turns into an hour! POOF! Just like that.
So I've deleted all my games from my phone and spend that time reading e-books instead. I used to be an avid 50 book a year person, and I floundered last year, so my goal is 52 books this year and damned if I'm not on track. I find that books relax me so much more than mindless clicking games, and falling into these worlds gives me a different perspective when I pull myself out of each story. Currently I'm about 2/3rds through Rich People Problems, the final installment of Kevin Kwan's Crazy Rich Asians series and it's my summer beach read, despite not stepping foot on a beach. (I'm in Toronto after all, our beaches are... different.)
- Let Myself Opt-Out or Say No
I must say that I've gotten much better at this over the years, but it used to ACTUALLY PAIN ME when people would invite me to parties or events and I didn't want to go. I try to be as flake-free as possible and cement my plans with people HARD, so I will not say that this is something I do regularly, but I will, situation permitting, allow myself to bow out of events and activities when I know I need time for myself. This seems obvious but I know people who will actively go to parties or events when they know they shouldn't and have a bad time, which can reflect poorly on them or give them a poor representation of others because they went to an event that they probably should have skipped. Knowing your limits is a true way to be a self-care warrior, but it's one of the hardest things to learn how to do.
- Going to the movies. Alone.
For my final point I could've said 'make tea' or 'garden' or 'do crafts' but honestly? The final self-care tip that feels the most 'Daniell'e of everything would be the enjoyment of cinema by myself. I LOVE watching movies alone. I did a double-major in University in Cinema Studies and Anthropology and you do NOT get a major in Cinema Studies if you don't like seeing films solo. I actually take a few days off every year to go to the Toronto International Film Festival and watch movies, OFTEN ALONE (surrounded by other people, obviously.) It feels like such a treat to not have to compromise on your seat choice or when you head to the cinema, or if you go to VIP, not have to share any of your appetizers with ANYONE. Cauliflower bites ALL TO MYSELF. The more I write about this, I realize it's been six weeks since my last solo-movie adventure so I think that's in the cards for next week.
What about you? Do you go to the gym? Make a cup of tea and relax? Go for a run or go to yoga? What are your GO-TO self-care methods that help keep you balanced and on-track?