Self-care. This term can sound like woo-woo to some, and many people kinda squirm at that thought as they associate it with the whole idea of pampering. In my opinion, pampering is more of a subset of self-care rather than its entire meaning. “Pamper myself when there are things to be done? Selfish!” I hear you say. Well, let me just say this. You can’t give if you are drained. I used to be all about the hustle, the grind, the whole shebang of the move-on-move-fast and basically, get shit done. Recently, I pretty much burned out; Lack of motivation, lack of energy, lack of appreciation for everything that was happening around me. I hustled, with my head down and looking on the ground. And if I think back about it, my anxiety got worse and I was probably benefiting no one around me and that kinda sucked as I do deal with many children on the daily.
I am not saying that the hustle is not important. Oh honey, it is. But we all have 24 hours a day. I’m sure we can fork out a little time to recharge and take good care of ourselves. Exercising is a great thing, but I do not see why so many people focus on the body and neglect the mind. After all, the mind controls the body, it controls literally everything, doesn’t it? If you do not take time out, your mind is constantly on a treadmill that is going so fast and it will reach a point where you are completely exhausted but you can’t stop, even if you really want to.
So self-care to me is really just taking care of myself, having some time to relax and recharge the mind and body and temporarily postponing the worries and to-dos of daily life. I do incorporate aspects of it everyday and it can range from small actions like taking a 5 minute walk and paying attention to my surroundings, or larger ones such as blasting Britney and having a mini facial in bed. There is no one correct way, just do what makes you feel…good.
Here are some things I constantly use to help treat myself (listed in order of items or steps that I would begin with) and hopefully, these can inspire you one way or another to begin your journey.
A scent diffuser
I know, you’re taken aback. A diffuser?! Wait, don’t leave! Let me tell you why. The human mind is strongly connected to scents and honestly, it is one of the easiest and fastest way to calm yourself down. I switch this on every night before I head to bed, choose the light setting that I fancy and add a couple of drops of essential oils and viola, I’m in my own personal spa haven. I do have a couple of essential oils, and I mix and match them depending on my mood. There are proper websites that state various combinations but let’s just say I drop em’ in when I feel like smelling them. If I could pick one, I really do suggest lavender as it has this amazing ability to just make me relax and take things slow.
I got my diffuser from Qoo10 here but there are tons of variations out there. But hey, mine has changing led lights! It is also a dupe for the pricey Muji ones with hefty price tags that probably agitate your anxiety more than ease it. This was about SGD $26 including shipping for the 300ml size and I’ve had it for 7 months and this is still going strong so I do highly recommend it. Also, my essential oils are from iHerb. They have a myriad of them too!
If I am travelling, I like to bring along pillow mists with me so a little spritz can help to create a similar effect to my diffuser. Currently, my favourite has got to be the Sleep Plus Pillow Spray from ThisWorks. It’s slightly pricey, but I say it’s worth it.
You knew this was coming, didn’t you? Reading various books is something that helped me greatly in my whole journey and this is really a section that I say, to each its own. Some people love to read fictional stories and some (like me) prefer non-fiction. But reading allows me to pause my own thoughts temporarily and dive into the author’s. Fun fact, did you know that there are some studies that prove that reading a fiction book for about 20 minutes before going to bed aids in sleep quality? I can’t attest to that as my books are generally non-fiction, but I can tell you that it relaxes me so much so that my sleep quality is pretty darn good as well (if I say so myself).
I have so many books that I like and am planning a post all about them! But for now, just grab something that catches your eye. If you’re thinking that you’re too tired to read words, sometimes a magazine would help as there are tons of visuals to help ease the mind into it. I am not a huge fan of magazines but I particularly fancy the IKEA catalogue. We all have one lying around and we all can do better with our interior design, so let’s flip that open.
Remember the part I mentioned earlier about blasting Britney and getting my facial on? Yeah, that is where my trusty sheet masks come in handy. I don’t have a specific brand that I gear towards, so I usually just grab a random one from my sheet mask drawer (yes, I have one) and slap it on the face. Then I will proceed to read my book, dance to Britney or just lay in bed and watch a YouTube video or two. If Britney isn’t your thing, a calming playlist like this or this works well too.
I had to mention this in as I love to make myself a cup of calming tea in the evenings. It is extremely soothing and as someone who just constantly needs something to drink, be it water or a flavoured beverage, this works great. My current favourite has got to be the Chamomile Nights Caffeine Free Bedtime Blend. I got this off iHerb for about SGD 4.30 and man, this has upped my relax and chill game.
This is probably top of my list. Meditation really helped me to settle down from the hectic rush of the day and get ready for bed. There are so many different ways to meditate, but I like to use the app Headspace and Calm to help me out. Just focusing on the breath, the surrounding sounds and just the present will do wonders for your psyche, trust me. I was super sceptical about this when it started to gain momentum in today’s society but there was a dark period of time about 2 years back and I had to try it out as it was the last thing I figured I’d do before sending myself to a therapist. It takes time and it takes patience, but this really helped me in handling all the stresses of life.
Side tracking a little, I have tons of notebooks in my drawers as I got them for my kids but then realised that they were really pretty…. so I kept some of them. I heard you gasp, but I’m moving on. So one day, my thoughts were running in my mind until I could not sleep. I couldn’t make them stop either. With all the angst and frustration in the world, I decided to just starting writing my thoughts down. I grabbed a pretty notebook and did a brain deposition and boy oh boy, I remember feeling so much better right after. Then, I headed straight for a big snooze.
Writing things down helps the brain to focus on a single train of thought and that is pretty rare, ain’t it? Our brains are the ultimate distracted and energised bunnies, hopping from one thought to the other without any pausing or conscious realisation. When you start writing, you’re making a conscious decision to think about a particular idea, and then just let the offloading begin. Try it at least once. If you’re angry, write furiously. If you’re sad, let the tears drip down on the paper as you delve into the emotions. Your notebook or diary is really the best friend that you always wished you had.
There is also a section in my journal that I like to write about what amazing things happened during the day as well as what I am grateful for. This is inspired from the 5 Minute Journal which I highly recommend but I could not deal with 2 books, so I simply incorporated those ideas into my own little night ritual.
It is so important to love yourself. I know it sounds cliché and it is, but really, things are cliche for a reason. If you are all burned out, you can’t give.
What are your thoughts about self-care? Do these suggestions sound appealing to you?