New Year Self Care
2018 was a whirlwind year for me and there were times where I neglected to take that all-important time out when I maybe needed to. It was nice to reflect on my self-care favourites as part of The Merit Club’s Self-Care Series, especially at this time of the year. It’s darker, rainier, and it’s easier for the gloom to creep in, but with a few little go-to methods, you can keep your energy and the energy around you positive. I’ve found harnessing a sense of this self-awareness to the restorative, the reflective, and the self-caring really helps to bring a sense of calm into your life that you can take out with you every day.
The Spring Clean
I was shocked to discover reports which found indoor air as more than 2 to 5 times more polluted than the air outside and taken aback by this fascinating youtube video. We have become the “indoor generation” and it’s affecting our wellbeing. It’s no surprise when you think about it. However many cobwebs you may brush away from the walls of your home, these buildings can quickly become containers for toxic chemicals from the products we use, harbouring damp and stale air, and keeping in stagnant energy. When I’m working on freelance writing, it’s easy to spend a lot of time inside sitting at my laptop. Or at the weekend, it can seem a nice idea to cosy up inside. But think about that feeling when you open a window and all the lovely fresh air comes in. Even if it’s raining, cold and grey outside, I always experience a noticeable feeling of relief. So one super simple thing I do for a little boost, is giving my home a spring clean, a tidy, maybe lighting a lovely candle, and then letting in some fresh air to really clear away those cobwebs.
Yoga & Meditation
An important lesson I learnt this year was that you simply can’t “be good” at yoga. There really is no right or wrong. I used to worry that I wasn’t flexible at all, I couldn’t touch my toes (I still can’t!) and I would therefore feel embarrassed at attempting any type of yoga class. But I’ve been lucky enough to have a host of amazing yoga instructors, all of whom have given me the confidence to just give it a go, and to work out for myself what serves me. It’s at these classes that I can truly switch off from the world outside me. I enjoy the physicality of the classes, but it’s the mental clarity and sense of energy they give to me that truly have me gripped.
My local studio in Battersea, Union Station Yoga, will always give you a warm reception and have a great variety of different classes if you’re a beginner and are looking to give it a go.
Going for a Walk
We click onto our CityMapper and are sent off on tubes and buses to get from A to B. All the time, we are travelling in unnatural spaces that are claustrophobic and stressful. When we are underground, everyone is fixated on their own personal mission, eyes down, with no communication, and no natural light. For me, there is nothing nicer than going for a walk. I’ll often choose to stick above ground when I’m out and about if I can, mapping out London in my mind to get from one place to the next. For self-care, I like to walk with no set destination in mind. It gives you a space to think if you need, or to think nothing at all other than the rhythm of your walking.
Hiding out in a Cute Coffee Shop
I love discovering a new hideout for a coffee pit-stop or cup of tea. There’s something about pouring out a couple of cups of tea out of a lovely tea-pot over the space of a chilled hour that is calming and lifts that sense of foreboding rush and pressure.
My latest favourite has to be the new Megan’s that has opened up in Clapham. It has gorgeous interiors, with comfy sofas, soft lighting and beautiful flowers hanging from the ceiling. The Lemon, Honey & Ginger tea was the perfect cure for a 4 o’clock reviver. They are also on the Kings Road, Parsons Green and Balham if you fancy checking one out! And for an added bonus they’re dog-friendly if you have a pooch in tow!
A Classic Pamper
Getting ready in the morning is always a rush, and if I’m rushing I’m far more likely to panic and start my day feeling flustered. If I’m going out and want to walk out of my house feeling confident and ready for anything, I do love to get up that extra bit early and make sure I have enough time to do my make-up and hair. It’s me-time that’s a bit indulgent, but it allows me to harness a positive go-getting energy around me that helps begin the day right. On the reverse, after a tiring day I normally resort to wiping off my make up with a cleanser, applying some moisturiser and not much else before going to sleep. Something I have been trying to do recently is turning off my phone, putting on a great album and treating myself to a face mask, lengthening my skincare routine and switching off from the temptations of pointless social-media scrolling. This self-care allows me to nourish my skin, but my mental state at the same time. A little moment for reflection and free space.
Cooking A Hearty Meal
When I’ve got a really busy week, cooking can become last-minute and out of necessity. Finishing work late, I’ll pop into my local supermarket and pick up my fail-safe ingredients so I can make something as quickly as possible. But, for some self-care, I love to plan a proper meal and take time over cooking my supper. Beforehand, picking out all the ingredients and prepping can seem like a chore and extra hassle, but as soon as I begin I instantly relax. I don’t think about much else other than the food I’m preparing and the creativity of the meal. Even better, cook for others; whether housemates, family, or friends who can pop round. For me, there’s nothing nicer than sitting round a table and chatting over a home-cooked meal you can take some pride in. Cooking, sharing a meal, sharing stories and day-to-day stresses - it nourishes your tummy, as well as your mind!
If you really are strapped for time and dread the thought of a busy supermarket, why not treat yourself to a Hello Fresh and have the ingredients and recipe delivered straight to your door!
How do you take time out for yourself? With gruelling work schedules and our social and family commitments, we can easily push self-care to the bottom of our priority list. However, it’s important to stay mindful about these priorities and acknowledge the ways in which a little bit of self-care will actually boost us and in turn help our abilities to achieve and succeed.