Self Care Dates & Why You Need One Today

When is the last time you got together with friends and upon asking how they’re doing, they immediately respond with all the negative things floating around their head? Or their love life woes? Work related stresses? Wait, before even returning the question and asking how you’ve been? PAUSE.

So often, I come across people who just love to fill me in on how stressed and depressed they are. When I worked in retail, it actually shocked me how much personal information people would blurt out… it was like I was wearing a plaque that read: “PLEASE VENT TO ME! I WANT TO KNOW ALL YOUR ISSUES!” Not that I’m an insensitive person — anyone who knows me knows that couldn’t be farther from the truth — but I simply don’t want to hear it! Especially if they’re not seeking advice. Nevertheless, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s usually one of two things:

1. They truly are stressed & in a negative state of mind and instead of working to improve their state of mind it somehow soothes them to simply spread their negativity like the common cold,

or

2. They truly are stressed and depressed and they need some help. They’ve begun to neglect themselves at the cost of a demanding life.

For one thing, clinical depression is no joke — I struggled with it for years myself, and at times it can feel like an uphill battle — that’s why if you’re continually having intrusive depressive thoughts or episodes, it’s always best to see a doctor, talk to a therapist, and just work out the perfectly unique formula of wellness that’s right for you, no judgments, no qualms, no ifs ands or buts. However, so many of us who aren’t clinically depressed still struggle mentally, emotionally, and physically because we’re neglecting the importance of self care.  Whether it’s a demanding work/school schedule or just one too many nagging responsibilities, we can all too often glide through life on autopilot and forget we have unique needs and that we’re all deserving of quality time with ourselves.

When we take a few steps back and reset ourselves, keeping everyone else’s negativity and bad energy at bay, we reconnect with who we are. We remember that life is meant to be lived authentically, with passion and joy, and that we don’t need to be everywhere all at once. I’ve been really focusing on self care this summer, especially during this golden month of August. After spending too long feeling especially high-strung and a bit cluttered, I’ve made it a habit instead of something to feel guilty about, or worse, something that’s completely forgotten. Leo season is begging us all to remind ourselves that we’re queens (or kings!). Life is just too short to go through it without showing yourself some love!

There are so many ways to practice self care and love, but below are some specific ways I’ve really been enjoying or just some die-hard practices I tend to fall back on time and time again. If you lead a busy life, you may want to physically mark a date on the calendar to do nothing but spend the day focusing on you. If not, you can be more lenient in your self care practices, but always make time for it! Remember, self care is mental, spiritual, and physical — there are many facets and many ways to practice, so have fun and make a self care date for yourself. You deserve the best.

1. Write It Down, Sketch It Out

Photo by Rachael Gorjestani on Unsplash

Sometimes the most therapeutic thing can be as simple as journaling. Very often when I find my mind feeling scattered and unfocused, I’m completely unaware of everything that I’ve been feeling and focusing on until I actually write it down. You can journal online, but nothing beats a moleskine notebook or a quality sketchbook. There’s just something so much better about pressing ink to paper that we just don’t get while violently hitting the computer keys! In this digital age, a tactile notebook will be your best friend. Plus, bonus points if it fits in your pocket or purse.

2.  Relax, Meditate, Take a Breather

Photo by Andre Benz on Unsplash

It always astounds me how some people are just constantly going. You know, just always on the move? Whaaat? I, for one, need to chill. I prefer gliding through life rather than free falling, and if you do as well, scoring some true relaxation time can vastly improve your wellbeing. I’m leaving this category kind of open-ended because everyone has different ways of relaxing and unwinding. Maybe you feel most relaxed when you’re snuggled up with a good book, or maybe going for a long hike might get you in a chill head space. Whatever it is, don’t forget to relax. Take up meditation if you want to kick it up a notch, as it’s a proven method of centering yourself, after all. I’ve been meditating more and more frequently and trying not to go a single day without it, so if anyone else is doing something similar let’s keep each other going strong! With all the chaos in the world, it’s so important to give your mind and spirit a break. Meditating for at least 10 minutes a day to begin is a perfect way to get back on track, or at least ride the waves better.

3. Clean, De-clutter, Purge

Photo by tu tu on Unsplash

When my energy gets too disorderly, I need to clean. I sweep the floors, do all the laundry, throw things away or donate clothing I no longer wear, burn sage around the corners, doors, and windows, and make sure there’s no leftover clutter. Whenever I get overwhelmed in my life or in my emotional frequency, I notice that my physical surroundings are probably a mess as well. Tidy space = tidy mind. This can actually be kind of fun too, even though it’s technically work, but how can it be?! You’re decluttering your life and ridding yourself of things that no longer serve you in order to bring vibrancy and newness in, and that, my friends, is self care.

4. Get Moving

Photo by Marion Michele on Unsplash

I am by no means a naturally athletic person. Hell, I skipped gym class in high school so often I had to write essays just to pass. I do however understand that exercise is absolutely necessary to achieving a positive state of mind, and it doesn’t always have to brutal and gross and sweaty. I’m not the kind of gal that will go sprint around the neighborhood for everyone to see, but I love yoga, Pilates, swimming, and hiking or anything outdoors. But that’s just my preference — if you’re a crossfit boss, by all means do your thing, but if you’d rather listen to Prince at an unreasonable volume and dance like crazy, that’s ok too. As long as you get your body moving, you’re reaping the benefits. I’ve been loving getting back into yoga because of the way it strengthens the mind as well as the muscles — it can be so relaxing while being a great workout.

5. Create

Photo by Khara Woods on Unsplash

Creation looks different to everyone. Maybe you’re a gifted artist and the only way to express yourself is through your work. Maybe you’re a musician, and writing and playing music is therapy in and of itself. Whatever it is, give yourself the time and space to nurture your creativity and simply create. It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece. It doesn’t even have to be pretty. Whenever I’m feeling low or in need of some self care time, I dig out a bunch of old magazines, put on a good record, and cut stuff up. What is it about collage that’s so lovely to me? I love taking an old image and breathing new life into it. It’s refreshing to me. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but who cares? That’s art if you ask me: creating life out of something lifeless. Your creation is unique to you, and that’s beautiful.

So that’s my condensed list. I just wanted to take some time and remind all of you readers how important it is to honor yourself and honor your life by indulging in self care frequently, without judgment, guilt, or expectations. What self care practices do you keep?

Instant Aromatherapy: DIY Lavender Rose Sugar Scrub

Ready to entice your senses, pamper your skin, and spend very little money doing so?

Behold, delicate readers:

A coconut oil-based scrub made with plain old sugar, dried lavender, crushed rose petals, and a couple drops of peppermint essential oil. That’s it!

Lavender is perfect for a scrub because it’s known as an herb that can help with stress relief, headaches, and even depression in some individuals. It has a subtle and relaxing scent that’s ideal for a bath or just simply to breathe in at the end of a long day. Rose petals add a little magic as well, promoting love, compassion, and beauty. Peppermint essential oil sharpens the mind and just has the cleanest smell — perfect to use for a body scrub, although you can substitute any kind of oil you like if you’re not a peppermint fan. Vanilla or almond would work wonderfully as well!

 

I made a small batch of this, but feel free to double up on measurements should you want to make a larger scrub. This would also be perfect as a gift, especially since it’s homemade using simple & real ingredients. I used dried lavender, but fresh will work just as well. You could probably use fresh rose petals as well, but I opted for dried since I already had some on hand and they’re easier to crush up when dried, in my opinion.

You will need:

You can either throw everything into a food processor and blend it that way or crush up your lavender & rose petals in a mortar and pestle and transfer it into a bowl along with the mixture of sugar, coconut oil, and peppermint essential oil. If you find your scrub is too coarse, add a little more coconut oil. Be careful putting in the essential oil, as peppermint has a very strong smell and too much would overpower the subtlety of the lavender and rose. I only used about 2 little drops. After everything is blended together, pour your scrub into an airtight jar and seal it up. That’s it! A quick and easy scrub to give your bod a little love.

Let me know what you think in the comments section! Be sure to pin this for later and follow my blog on bloglovin’ to stay on top of every update 🙂

Banishing the Winter Blues

I feel like winter often gets a bad rap. I guess it’s one of those seasons you either love or you hate, but living in Upstate New York, most people go with the latter. But not me. I’m a winter baby, always have been and always will be. I love the biting winds, heavy blizzards, icicles on my rooftop… I could go on. Part of it could be that I’ve just never done well in the heat: my skin gets irritated and my hair gets dry and I detest being sweaty and I don’t like the social implications it brings, HA! Call me crazy, but winter is renewing. Winter is a test. If you can’t suffer the dark and cold, how can you truly enjoy the light and heat? Maybe that’s a bit extreme, but I do believe the seasons we are most drawn to can be illustrative of our characters. I love fall and winter, not because I’m a dreary individual per se, but I think it’s the most contemplative time of the year, allowing us a natural time to withdraw from the hustle and bustle, to settle in with things we enjoy or just let yourself be for a little while. I appreciate that. Plus I like crisp, cold weather, and there’s strength in the silence that comes with the dead of winter or a quiet autumn morning.

So for Winter nay-sayers out there that might be reading this, I pity you. Here are some fabulous things about this season.

How do you look chic in the wintertime, you ask? You bundle up, b*tch! There’s nothing cute about freezing your ass off. Winter is a time to be comfy, a time to grab those big sweaters that you swim around in and kick back, staying warm and safe from harsh winds. That’s not to say you can’t dress up in the winter however, just do so with caution. No bare legs! I can’t bear to see girls walking around outside in 20 degree weather bar-hopping in tiny dresses with bare legs and arms, because yes, ladies tend to do that around here as if it’s summertime. More power to them, I just fear for their health. Anyways, I personally love winter fashion. I love big hats and huge, soft scarves. Valpeak has a great selection of affordable and warm winter hats! I just bought this one recently and I’m loving it. I even still wear heels in the winter if they’re durable and thicker on the bottom, and paired with a big pair of warm socks of course. Turtlenecks are one of my favorites since they’re forgiving in every way and never go out of style. I have an affinity for cashmere ones (like this beautiful Orvis cashmere blend or this 100% cashmere sweater that’s super versatile) as well as the heavier-knit varieties, but depending on where you live, play around with the thread count. As for wool sweaters, both Carraig Donn and L.L. Bean have my heart. Both of these materials can be thrifted, too, if you’re willing to look! So get your scarves, your sweaters, your chunky heels and winter boots and in the wise words of Tim Gunn, make it work.

Honestly, what’s better than getting into bed after a long day? Maybe I’m just kind of a homebody, but I love to nest. I love hopping into bed and pulling the covers up high, ready to dream and wake up refreshed. I definitely sleep better in the winter, too. As much as I enjoy sleeping with my windows open in the warmer months, I hate the racket that the bugs make and the humid air wafting through the screen. Ugh. But winter is a time for thick sheets and fuzzy throws, and snuggling up with a partner or a pet and listening to the snow fall and the wind gust while you drift off to sleep. Perfect, isn’t it? You can score some amazing and affordable flannel sheets here, as well as cuddly faux-fur throws and down comforters to keep your abode nice and warm.

Yes, you can bake all year round, and we all do, but winter baking is the best! Holiday baking obviously takes the cake (pun intended) but there’s nothing like hiding away from the cold to whip up some of your favorite cookies or treats. My favorite winter recipes range from savory pies to pretty much anything with chocolate, but my recipe for 3-ingredient peanut butter cookies also hits the spot and its super easy to make! If you’re looking for some good recipe books to get the ball rolling, some classic cookbooks filled with foolproof recipes include The Baking Bible, Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Foolproof, and the classic Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book. Even though recipes are being shared so rapidly online nowadays, you can’t beat owning a tried and true cookbook.

Even in the cold weather, it’s good to stay active. I really hate working out in gyms and much prefer being outdoors. I feel too trapped and I genuinely enjoy being in nature rather than lift weights or stare into space while running on a treadmill. Thus, winter hikes are one of my favorite ways to get active in the cold months! It doesn’t even have to be too strenuous, just getting out there for a walk in the cold are can be refreshing and revitalizing. Seek out a trail near you and remember to wear good boots! Reward yourself with a delicious hot drink afterwards, that way you can have a treat and warm up at the same time.

Who doesn’t want an excuse to stay in and binge watch all your favorite movies or tv shows?! Last winter my boyfriend and I went through so many movies — The Thing, the Lord of The Rings trilogy, Wild Strawberries, and The Sound of Music were some go-to’s, just to name a few. It can be fun to cuddle up on the couch and get lost in a film for a while, and winter is the perfect time to do so.

All too often I hear people complaining about winter: the snow, the cold, or maybe just the stagnation it can infer. Don’t let yourself be bogged down by winter blues! Winter can also be a great opportunity to focus on self-care: draw a bath and have an at-home spa day or just spend time hibernating with your pet and a favorite book! For those who suffer from seasonal affective disorder, self care can be really beneficial. Viewing these months as a way to focus inward may soothe some of your symptoms. Also, these great therapeutic light boxes can help too! Try out some things on this list and remember, spring is only a few months away!