The new month started as beautifully as it possibly could have – with a heavy mist shrouding the sun, but I was glad when Winter bit my face with sharp-as-fuck teeth. It’s not happy with the idea of surrendering to Spring, despite not showing up much for the past three months it was supposed to reign. (Though we know who’s to blame for Winter’s weakened state…)
I was supposed to write yesterday, and the day before that, but time has been scattered, and my focus has been off course. For a while, I fretted that by breaking my posting chain, I’d annihilate my ability to write (I’ve talked about this fear before) but then I magically found myself able to relax about it. Sort of. Which was kind of nice. But also kind of weird.
From what I can see so far, my ability to put words to screen hasn’t been annihilated as yet, so I’m going to take that as a sign that it’s OK for me to miss a post or two now and then.
My Self-Care Challenge
In January I finally accepted that I was doing a shoddy job of taking care of myself. As a result of my negligence, every part of me – though especially my body – suffered.
Here’s something of an insight into ways I was negligent: After getting out of the shower I’d be like ‘fuck applying shea body butter. I don’t have time.’ Nevermind that my skin was parched and gagging for some shea body butter and that it would take a couple of minutes at most to give it what it needed.
Or, I’d think ‘I’ll drink more water tomorrow…’ but not do it. Ever. Or, I’d say to myself ‘I really should change my diet up so I’m not surviving on Weetabix, peanut butter sandwiches and vegan hoisin duck wraps.’ But then I’d fail with that too, worried whole hours would be swallowed up with meal preparation if I were to change my ways.
I was comfortable with how long it would take me to prepare the things listed above – less than five minutes. And I enjoyed cereal and peanut butter and fake duck. I was comfortable the way I was – devoting my time to my work. Moisturising my body and eating a more varied diet felt like a hassle.
Except those things weren’t a hassle. Not when I thought about it. And I did that towards the end of January. I thought about it a lot. I decided that, rather than attempting another creative challenge (my challenge in January was to blog for thirty-one days) I decided I would, for every day of the month, make a determined effort to take better care of myself. I wanted February to be different from the months (and years) that had gone before, and I wanted it to set the tone for the rest of 2021.
Now, as it goes, the challenge went pretty well. It obviously wasn’t as straight forward as January’s had been, because there were multiple things I needed to make time for in my day, not just one, and I had to challenge habits I’d been cosy with for several years. While I didn’t accomplish everything – some days I didn’t moisturize after having a shower, and I didn’t change up my diet much – I made a fucking good effort and, if I dare say so, I’m going into March improved.
Self-Care Was Getting Up At 7 am
Every night I put my alarm (aka my phone, though the alarm function is predominately what I use it for these days since deserting social media) on the other side of the room before going to sleep, so, when it started wailing in the morning, I had to launch myself out of my nest to switch it off.
This worked for all but three of February’s twenty-eight days. Getting up early helped me start the day feeling excellent, as though everything I wanted to achieve was within reach. Lying in left me feeling anything but excellent. I’d go about the rest of my day troubled and with a half-arsed attitude.
Self-Care Was Drinking More Water
If you’ve been here a while, you might remember me complaining bitterly about my failure to drink enough water. In February, everything turned around with regards to my intake of H20. Reluctant to spend any money on a water-holding vessel, I abducted a beautiful, humongous glass jug from my mother’s kitchen and gave it a new home in my bedroom.
Every morning, I’d fill it with water and place it where I could see it out of the corner of my eye, and where I’d pass it whenever I left or came back into the room. I told myself that by the end of the working day, it had to be empty. And it happened. It helped that I actually enjoyed the brief ritual of filling my glass and the few moments I’d have to re-centre myself before returning to work.
Self-Care Was Going For A Run (Almost) Every Day
I ran for twenty-one of the twenty-eight days of February. If I wanted to have a productive and fulfilling day, I knew a run was imperative. On the days I didn’t run, I was easily agitated and it took longer to fall asleep at night. On the days I did run, I’d go out with something in my head that needed figuring out, and I pretty much always arrived home with a solution. On the days I did run, I was better focused, brighter, less stressed and more inspired.
A new habit I adopted that helped me ensure my run happened was to get dressed in my running gear first thing. I’d then do a few hours of work and go out for a run around 11.30 am. On the days I didn’t feel like it, I’d say to myself, ‘you’re ready, so you might as well.’
Self-Care Was Staying Off Social Media
I received a few emails from Facebook and Instagram during February, telling me that I was missing out. Facebook said I had 180 friend requests. Yeah, I don’t think so. If I get a friend request, it’s once in a blue moon. 180 in a single month? Doesn’t happen. I didn’t investigate into what I was supposedly ‘missing out on,’ or whether the 180 friend requests were real (unlikely) or a ploy to get me to log in (likely). I told the emails they could fuck off and deleted them.
Having started my sabbatical from socials in January and being happy with how my productivity, creativity and confidence had all bettered from the experience, there was no way February was going to see me slope back.
Other Self-Care Related Things I Accomplished
I almost always went to sleep before 11.30 pm.
I spent longer brushing my teeth.
I established a better face and body skincare regime.
I checked my emails only twice a day. (Mostly.)
I ate less sugar.
I started my day with a tidy workspace and ended my day with a tidy workspace.
I finished work by 8 pm. (Mostly.)
I did more reading for pleasure (though what I read for pleasure always has, in some way, a connection to what I’m working on, so it’s a win-win!) for an hour in the morning, two hours (at least) at night, and for twenty minutes during/after meals and afternoon snack.