Often times when it comes to self-care, I’ve heard people repeat the concept that self-care is self-discipline. While I personally believe self-care can be so much more than that, I’ve really come to understand what people mean when they say this about self-care the last few months. While I still believe that concepts such as spa nights, taking baths and face masks are an important part of taking care of yourself and helping you stay relaxed — discipline is needed to take care of yourself of a daily basis.
During stay-at-home, while I have absolutely nothing but my own willpower to keep my life on track, I’ve really began to see the value in the idea of self-discipline as self care. The best way I can think of to explain is that good things are only good in moderation. For instance, as much as I love the idea of eating pizza and Chinese takeout every day — it would be expensive and wildly unhealthy. And as much as I really do love sleeping — if I don’t set alarms in the morning, I oversleep, leaving me feeling tired for the rest of whatever’s left of the day. As well, when it comes time to sleep the next night, I have trouble falling asleep — causing me stress and ruining my sleep schedule. And of course, as I explained a little in my stay-at-home routine blog, as much as it sounds like a great idea to sit around watching Netflix 24/7, it means I won’t complete any of my tasks, I’ll stay in bed all day, and I’ll eventually get extra-bored when I run out of shows to watch. I think you’re probably getting the point — while a lot of these things are great every once in a while, it’s the concept of moderation that keeps them from having a negative effect on my health, mental well-being and stress levels.
As such, I’ve kind of decided to take this self-care list in a bit of a different direction for this spring — and I’m sharing my favourite ways to maintain self-discipline in the face of having absolutely no responsibilities and nothing tying you down to your routine. If we can take the time to master these now, imagine how much more productive, relaxed, and happy we’ll all be with our new habits when we’re back to normal life!
Keeping A Routine
Okay, yes, I know I just went over this. But it’s really been crazy helpful in terms of holding it together. I think something that’s important when you’re trying to settle into a schedule is to remember you don’t have to have it down perfectly from the get-go. It’s hard! Trust me, it won’t happen overnight. It took me WEEKS to really get my schedule and wake up times to regulate — and then they ended up falling apart shortly thereafter. But even when you’re just starting out, having the routine will help you do everything you’ve been meaning to do, stay organized, have your own free time, and seriously help reduce stress. Plus, even when it’s not perfect, it’s still better than nothing.
This gets thrown around a lot on people’s lists, but I feel like it rarely gets taken to heart. I think a lot of people either mean to incorporate it into their life and forget, or don’t see how it will benefit them. If you have trouble remembering to meditate, but have been meaning to, start small! Try practicing every other night, or even just once a week. As well, with habits I’m trying to incorporate into my daily routine, I find it helps to do them first thing in the morning or right before bed — whichever you prefer. For those of those who don’t understand how meditating will help — that’s fair! But when was the last time you intentionally took a break, or checked in with yourself? Put aside all your responsibilities intentionally, and took a moment to relax? I’d suggest trying it once — there’s no harm, and if it doesn’t work out then it’s no biggie!
This is something I had always wanted to get into, but didn’t have the motivation to start before now. One of my biggest challenges with working out daily was the inconvenience of finding the right time — waking up early to do it was challenging (but otherwise the perfect time), the middle of the day really eats up a lot of time and leaves you feeling kinda gross and sweaty all day after. Early evenings after class ended up too close to dinner time (however I can see how after a 9-5 could be very convenient), and late night I just hated for so many reasons. I’m taking this time now to add in a little morning workout to my routine in hopes that I’ll stick with it once we’re back to normal. It’ll definitely be a challenge to keep it up every day in the future, but for right now, I love how refreshed it helps me feel, as well as how it’s trickier to put off and helps me get a good start on my day.
This aspect of self-care is something I’ve really been trying to incorporate into my days lately. The way we speak to ourselves MATTERS. If nothing else, remember that “faking it ’til you make it” often works. If you don’t feel confident? Fake it. Saying positive things about yourself every day feels wrong? Fake it. There’s absolutely no downside to practicing positive affirmations, but so much to be gained. So go ahead, try it! Speak some good things into existence and try hyping yourself up every once in a while.
Yes, this is another really obvious one — but it’s vital to feeling your best. It’s hard to get into the habit of eating healthy every day, but once you start it’s not hard to keep it up. The best way to maintain a healthy diet is to maintain balance — it’s next to impossible to never eat an unhealthy snack or meal EVER. I usually go for one unhealthy snack or meal per day, but the rest should ideally be healthy. As well, when you’re busy it’s almost impossible to maintain a healthy diet without prep — I always ensure to meal prep and have three breakfast/lunch ideas planned out and ready to make so I can switch it up when they get repetitive. I’ve found it really easy with my stay-at-home lifestyle to make all my food myself — with all my newfound time and energy, it’s actually a lot less stressful than ordering takeout — and the way it has me feeling is AMAZING.
Doing Things That Make You Feel Good About Yourself
This one is really anything you want it to be. Does doing your makeup every so often make you feel better about yourself? Maybe dressing up nice, or doing your hair, makes you feel a little more put together and normal during this absolute not-normal time? Who knows! It could be a face mask, or a hair cut, or whatever it’ll take to make you feel a little happier with your appearance. It’ll help you feel happier and more confident — which is important to maintaining good mental health right now.
This is extra important right now — get some fresh air! It doesn’t have to be anything huge — it can literally just be sitting on your front lawn, at a local park, or whatever your heart desires. Getting in some sunshine and getting out of our inside spaces is so important — it really will do your mental health a world of good. I’ve even been thinking of adding a little walk to my daily schedule to help me spend more time outside and to ensure I get a little fresh air every day.
As someone who was formerly super-messy, totally unorganized and completely winging it in every situation, I can’t even BEGIN to tell you how much being organized reduces your stress. Even though I was a highly-functioning hot mess (never missed assignments, meetings or social activities, never lost or damaged items in my messy living space, never really felt my life was out of control), just knowing that everything is written down, planned out, or cleaned up just takes an extra load of worry off and frees up extra space in your brain. I know it’s all pretty obvious in theory, but you don’t really realize how helpful it is until you try it for yourself. No matter how organized you already are, take a day or two to deep-clean and re-organize all of your things, organize all your important deadlines and to-do lists, and schedule out everything you need to do. Not just once — doing this once a month will really help you keep everything under control and keep you stress-free.
+ Regular Self Care!
Don’t forget about taking time out of your schedule to treat yourself and unwind — it’s still important! Self-discipline isn’t the only kind of self-care out there. Plan a little spa night, take a day off to watch Netflix in bed, take a bath — whatever it is you love doing for self care most! This one’s really up to you, so feel free to free-style! (Plus, if you need any ideas, you can always check out my previous posts on self care.).
I hope you’re all staying safe and healthy, especially with everything beginning to re-open around the world. I’ve personally been finding re-opening weirder than quarantine — it’s strange having life at a different new-normal, and it’s hard to tell what’s actually safe or not. As such, I’ve kind of been leaning into my routines and habits even more lately — no matter what’s happening in the outside world, they remain consistent. As for what’s up in my life — I’m about to begin the job hunt for my first post-grad job! Getting started (especially with the world right now) is definitely a little daunting (but also incredibly exciting) — wish me luck!