“Ahhh, why not?” was a common phrase uttered by yours truly to justify all the irresponsible things I did. Couldn’t afford something? Ahhh, why not, it’s just money – it grows on trees. Should I eat those three desserts after a decadent dinner? Ahhh, why not, I do it all the time – why should today be any different? Bloody Mary for breakfast? It’s practically a salad! I mean, just look at all that celery.
Until recently the concept of self-care looked something like this to me; come home after work, order Misschu’s (because Vietnamese food is healthy), smoke some pot, drink Pinot Noir, lounge in my bed surrounded by cats (or my human friends) and indulge in bad TV with terrible acting and even worse dialogue.
Don’t get me wrong, it was great while it lasted but it didn’t truly fill my tank – I felt like rubbish, I looked like it and I didn’t know how to get out of the crap I was drowning in. From the outside my life looked so amazing I was starting to fool myself. Realistically though, I was a 30 year old little girl who hadn’t achieved a quarter of what she’d set out to do in this lifetime.
That didn’t sit well with me and I was either going to step into my greatness or call it quits and cash in.
When I got super real about what wasn’t working in my life, I woke up, smelled the coffee and took a long hard look at what needed to transform. It was a long-ass list, my friends. Slowly, from there, I put together a range of self-care practices that I incorporate into my daily, weekly and monthly routine.
The trick is mastering one practice, before moving onto the next. It is natural for us to want things now… Yesterday would be best, actually, if you could – please and thank you.
In the world of instalikes, on-demand everything, fast-food and sex delivered to your door (Tinder anyone?) it can be tricky to commit to something even for a week.
But trust me, it’s worth it. Good things truly do come to those who wait.
“Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving. When we can be alone, we can be with others without using them as a means of escape.” – Bell Hooks
1. Declutter, organise and clean
The first step is taking stock of your life, work out what doesn’t serve you and start cutting away. Be ruthless with your material possessions, relationships and habits. Even that which weighs lightly on your mind is a splinter that is an unnecessary energy expenditure that will continue to niggle away.
I started with my wardrobe and within two hours had sold over $500 worth of clothing. My wallet was happy and so was the rent man. I then moved onto unused appliances, furniture as well as my beloved book collection which in reality was just collecting dust and flaring up my housemate’s allergies.
I donated a bunch of stuff to the Salvo’s who graciously came and picked up a array of items and thanked me for my generosity. I don’t think they realised they were doing me the favour.
Finally, I committed to making my living space beautiful and cozy – a real retreat away from the madness of the world. I clean my room and make my bed every day. It’s amazing how everything starts to flow with the simple action of making your bed. Try it!
#2 Unplug from the Matrix, Neo
Depressed, lonely people binge watch television. Often. They legit did a study and the results are in – people who are depressed and lonely are more likely to settle in every night for several hours of their favourite escapism.
I relate because it used to be mine. I would rush home from work and be practically frothing to download the latest episodes of my favourite shows – from two to five per night. Pure madness. For the last two years of my relationship, the activity my partner and I indulged in the most was watching TV together. That really should have been our lightbulb moment but alas, it was not.
It’s really simple. I would rather live my life than watch other people living theirs.
#3 Limit social media
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Tinder, Pintrest, LinkedIn, Whatsapp, Kik, Viber. Woah, Nelly! Those are just the ones I could list off the top of my head. Where else are you dispersing your energy?
How much of your self worth is tied up in the likes, shares and interactions with people that don’t really mean anything to you? Be honest with yourself. It’s ok, no one else will know, it’s just between us. How often do you go back to check how many likes your last status update has racked up or that super cute picture of your cat?
A friend of mine once complained about having to charge her phone several times a day. Upon investigation, I recommended she should remove all unnecessary notifications and only allow phone calls and texts as alerts. She said “Oh, but I really like watching my Instagram likes come in, it makes me feel good.”
You know what made me feel really incredible? Deactivating my Facebook for four weeks. I couldn’t recommend it more.
“Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” – Eleanor Brown
4. Connect with nature
My teacher tells me regularly to “Sit in nature and contemplate your nature.” We are lucky and blessed to live in such a beautiful and abundant world. How often do we literally stop to smell the roses?
Go to your local park and read a book. Lie on the grass. Breathe. Go for a day trip with your best friend to enjoy the snow. Or the beach.
Be still. Be peaceful. Just be.
I promise you will feel connected, rejuvenated and grateful.
5. Relax, detox and bliss out
Do the things that make you feel good. Not temporarily good, but truly fill your tank. Buy some bath salts and enjoy a steamy soak in the tub. Better yet, take your bestie and go soak in a Japanese outdoor hot tub in the middle of winter. Do a yin yoga class – your body will thank you. Calm your mind by sitting absolutely still for thirty minutes per day. Go for a motorbike ride, cook your favourite healthy meal or read a book. Start a blog. Whatever.
Do one of those practices a day and I promise you will start to experience balance in your life like never before.
6. Keep your body pure
Eat well. We all know what this looks like in reality, yet we kid ourselves and pretend we don’t. Your body is the vehicle that takes you through this life and the only home you truly have. It works overtime purging all the rubbish and poison we put into it daily just to keep us at a reasonable performance level.
I don’t know about you but I want optimal performance.
Two months ago I cut out dairy, sugar (including fruit – cut the shock horror!), gluten, soy, wheat, grains, nuts, alcohol and all drugs (legal and the other kind). I thought this would be hard but actually it’s really easy.
Hangovers are a thing of the past. I do still lust over Whittaker’s Peanut Slab, I ain’t even gonna lie.
I’m not saying you have to go as gung-ho as I have (but you’d love it, trust me), but start by simply eating more vegetables and less processed foods, especially sugar. Go to your local market and make friends with your grocer.
7. Stick to your budget
Overspending in the heat of the moment is not worth the stress that follows. Like, seriously, trust me.
Do you really need more material possessions? Should you really spend $70 on dinner or brunch regularly? Are you aware of how long you could live on your savings if you quit your job?
Since taking stock of my finances and living within my means I have never felt more freedom.
Fill your tank. Connect with yourself. Everything you need is inside you already, you do not need to look outside for anything, not love, nor validation.
When you honour yourself with realistic and sustainable boundaries, others will also and life will ebb, flow and present you with all that you desire.
“They called her witch because she knew how to heal herself.” – Te’ V. Smith