So, you may be sick of us preaching about self care. We realize we talk about it a lot.
That being said, we have no intention of stopping any time soon. It’s one of the biggest influencers over our day to day life – survivor or not, and we will keep writing about it until we can’t anymore. We want to encourage everyone who reads our posts to practice self care and to find a routine that works for you. This may take a few “trial runs”, but once you find your combo, it’s a game changer.
We both came out of a rough week and serious self care sesh, so it’s relevant. Here are our PERSONAL specific self care routines, created by years of trial and error.
When I woke up last Saturday, I knew I was more than drained. If 0% was empty, I was at -50%. I was blessed to be able to take two self care days after 4 weeks of none. Unfortunately I am an all or nothing person so I have a hard time implementing self care on days that aren’t fully free. If you are able to do that, please do. But I can’t. 😦
To start my day, I sleep in, but only by an hour. If I mess up my sleep schedule, it throws me off for a week. I then make coffee and bring it into the shower with me. I put my favourite tunes on that match my mood. The shower is truly my little oasis. I have a good cry in there. I use all my fun lush products. When I’m out and in my favourite comfy clothes, I make a list of everything I have to do before Monday that can NOT be postponed (no good creating more problems for myself next week!). Then, I write everything else that CAN be postponed down on another list. While I get the high priority list done, I put on a reality TV show or a podcast to play in the background, to take the edge off. I get all my stuff done ASAP so that I can REST knowing I have nothing left I must do.
Then, It’s self care time.
I always have quick meals and snacks on hand for these days – plant-based “chicken” nuggets or pre-made soup in my freezer, apples in my fruit bowl. Ramen noodles in the pantry. Things requiring minimal clean up to reduce work.
I sit a lot, and put my electric heating pad on my back. This really calms me down. While I sit, I usually read a book, with my cat sleeping on my lap. Reading takes my mind completely off the real world. I play soothing music all day. I make my playlists in advance to be prepared. Sometimes, though, I play videogames or Pinterest the afternoon away. Pinterest is a way of manifesting my goals, somewhat. It motivates me and keeps me inspired. I’ll often do this with a sheet face mask on, and an endless supply of peppermint tea.
Sometimes, I do a little meditation thing. I go somewhere peaceful, close my eyes, and create a picture in my mind of a little circular garden with a small plant in the middle. The plant wants to grow but it’s being choked out due to big rocks in the garden. I name each rock as a stress of mine that’s been weighing me down. One by one, I identify each stress (rock). I label it one of 2 things:
- Things that are in my control. Ex, applying for college. I “weed” one at a time, and address why I am carrying them, thank them for/remember what they will do for me, and place them AROUND the garden. I move them from where they suppress the plant, and place them where they support/protect the plant. I let them bless and serve me.
- Things that are not in my control. Ex, a fear or worry I have, or a loved one’s illness. As I weed these rocks, I remind myself I have no control over them. I pick up one at a time, then release them by placing them around a SECOND garden that’s not mine, but the garden of my God (who/whatever you believe in). I release them into His control and pray over each stress as I let it go.
By the end of this practice, I have no rocks left in my garden weighing me down. I leave this meditation feeling more free every single time. Each time I mentally remove a rock, I physically feel like I am taking weight off of my back.
Once I’m done, I’ll do some yoga, maybe go for a walk or run if I have the energy. If I can’t get myself outside, I’ll at least crack a window open because fresh air every day is important if you have access to it. Next, I think about things that might actually make me HAPPY. Perhaps buying myself flowers, or cleaning my room, or renting a movie i’ve been wanting to see instead of just watching whatever is on Netflix. I do some of these things, and then go to bed early. After a day that looks somewhat like this… i wake up feeling more capable and refreshed the next day! Sometimes I do all this feeling like a zombie – not anything like a lifestyle influencer. But after a day of blessing myself despite my feelings, life becomes more manageable for me.
My last little tip – taught by my best friend – is one called “malfunctioning”. When my brain starts creating intrusive thoughts that begin to not sound so much like myself (usually this happens at night for me) I call it out and recognize that my mind is exhausted from fighting and experiencing PTSD all day. These thoughts are not my true thoughts – and it’s time to tune out those thoughts/ disregard them until my mind feels back to it’s usual. I’ll be super positive about work for example until a certain time of night, then my brain will throw me a curveball and all of a sudden “IM A FAILURE MY WORK IS USELESS”. Then, I call it out: “I’m malfunctioning – this isn’t truly what I believe or feel”. Time to turn the Yoga Nidra on and go to sleep. You wouldn’t try to use a malfunctioning appliance, would you? No, you would do what you needed to get it running again before you used it. For me, that’s usually eat a snack and go to bed.
My routine depends on the day and where my emotions are at. There are things I make sure to do daily, and there are things I only do once a week. If I have a not so great day at work, I’ll do things in the evening before I go to bed. If I have a tough week, I’ll dedicate my next “free” day to making myself feel good. I try to make time for myself everyday, whether it be 5 hours or 5 minutes. I start every morning with a big glass of water. Even if i don’t feel thirsty – i know my mind and my body will thank me for it. Everyday, good or bad, I journal. I either write in my notebook, or write something down in my notes on my phone. I like to keep track of things that happen during the day and how they made me feel.
7:45 – I slept in and had to rush to get ready for work. I felt stressed all morning.
1:34 – Today i had a piece of pizza for lunch. It was good but my stomach feels upset now.
3:12 – I had a good conversation with my coworker about Christmas. I’m excited for winter.
Whatever it may be, I write down exactly how it made me feel. At the end of the week, I have a list of things that made me feel not so great and I can try to avoid them moving forward. It’s been a huge help for me. I always find it easier to write down my feelings vs talk about them.
If my morning is free, I won’t set an alarm. I’ll allow my body to get as much rest as it needs. Some days I’ll wake up earlier, but my body isn’t ready to get out of bed. I’ll lay in bed with my dog for a while before starting my day. She’s not a cuddler, but she always knows when I need a little extra love.
I move on to breakfast, some days I do something quick and easy like yogurt and fruit, some days I prepare a whole meal. It depends on how much energy I have. If the weather is nice, i’ll eat outside. Fresh air and sunshine are so healing to me. I keep my phone on “do not disturb” for a good chunk in the morning. I use this time to either read some poetry or try to plan out what I want the day to look like.
Once breakfast is done, I like to mediate for a few minutes. Sometimes the practices are 5 minutes long, sometimes they’re 25 minutes long. Again, it totally depends on where my mind and body are at in the moment. Personally, I like guided meditation. I have a few apps I like to use, or i’ll find some good ones on youtube. This helps me stay in the present moment and keeps me from wandering back to whatever threw me off yesterday. Sometimes when I’m feeling stressed or overwhelmed, my mind detaches from my body. Meditation, for me, brings every part of me back to a place of unity.
Once I’m done that, I’ll throw a load of laundry in the wash. I’ll go through my emails, check my socials, maybe watch some TV or listen to a podcast while I wait. After I switch the load to the dryer, and put another load in the wash, I’ll usually take my dog out for a walk, if it’s nice. Like I said before, sunshine and fresh air is so refreshing, even if we’re only out for 15 minutes. If it’s wet and miserable out, we’ll stay inside and play tug-of-war or chase each other around the kitchen.
Folding laundry is the BIGGEST chore for me. I literally have two loads on my bed right now waiting to be folded. This is honestly one of my biggest hurdles. If I’m feeling good enough, I’ll power through it. I always feel so much better when i get it done, but some days i can’t. That’s okay though, at least I did half the job.
In the evening, i’ll have a bath, or a long shower. It almost feels like I’m washing away the stress of the week. I’ll spend extra time exfoliating my body and shaving my legs. I like listening to music that reflects my moods. If i need to cry, i’ll let myself cry. My night usually ends in the most tedious skin care routine. I’ll add an extra 4 steps to my normal lineup. Whether they make a difference or not, it makes me feel good.
A few other things i make sure to do are;
Weekly, I pull 3 of my “positive affirmation” cards. This may sound crazy to some of you but hear me out. They allow me to narrow my attention onto 3 particular things, therefore reducing stress load. One week I may be focusing more on relationships, financial opportunities and self reflection. Another week it may be forgiveness, grounding and safety. I don’t disregard the other parts in my life that don’t reflect on the cards, but I become more aware of the things that happen daily that do.
Every other week, I do a social media “cleanse” – I unfollow accounts that I don’t find encouraging or make me feel bad about myself. I like to follow accounts that preach the same values as I do, and don’t make me question myself. My mind can be quite negative as it is, I don’t need the media adding to that. I block specific words from showing up on my feeds because I know it won’t serve me any good – “COVID-19” and “Coronavirus” were two that i added to the list in May, not because I didn’t care, but because it’s all that flooded my feed and I needed a glimmer of joy.
Once a month, I get my nails done. I do this strictly because they make me feel good. I like wearing “happy” colours. Yellow is my go-to. After i get my nails done, i’ll often go for a tan (whether it be a spray tan or lay in the tanning bed for a few minutes) then i take myself out to lunch. Sometimes it’s for sushi, sometimes Subway. This is something I’ve been doing for years. It’s one of those things that I can look forward to monthly. It’s nice getting excited over simple things like this.
We know that some of these things may sound ridiculous to some of you, but they work for us. It’s taken years to build a routine that fits our lives, and we hope that you find things that work for you. If you try some of these, or we share something in common, let us know! If you do something totally different, we’d love to hear that too! Finding time for yourself in the midst of chaos is so important. Take time to focus on you and what you need in that moment. Find time to reset, refresh and refuel – however that may look to you!
All our love,
–R + K