Spring Self-Care Ideas!

Hey friends!

Spring is here, and it’s time to shake off that seasonal depression and get back into our normal routines. This last winter was hard on all of us, I’m sure — between COVID lockdowns, the usual seasonal depression and all the other craziness in the world, it’s been a bit of a wild ride. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m personally ready to start feeling a little more normal again — although, I feel its going to take some work to get there.

One of my favourite ways to improve my mental health, or just my life in general, is to plan and take part in a little self-care. Personally, I’m of the belief that self care is more than just spa days and movie nights (although those both count as self-care as well, and I love both very much!). In my eyes, self care is anything that improves your life, really. However, I truly believe the best form of self-care is self-discipline. Holding yourself accountable, staying on top of things, and knowing when to take breaks are all important to living a healthy and balanced life. That being said, I’ve compiled a little spring-specific list of self care ideas ranging from healthy lifestyle choices, ways to keep yourself organized, to good old-fashioned ways to relax and unwind. That way, no matter what kind of self-care you’ve been needing in your life this spring, you’ll find something just for you on this list!

Go For A Walk

Maybe I’m a hypocrite for adding this one first, since people are always telling me to get out of my house and go for walks more but I opted to avoid doing so all winter long — until now! It can be kind of hard to motivate yourself to get up and head out when you’re feeling crappy (trust me, I know) but spring is such a beautiful (and short) season, so you might as well take advantage of it while you can! This year, since we’re all still locked in, it’s kind of easy to totally miss the whole season entirely if you don’t make a point of going outside and enjoying it — which happened to me last year. I’ve decided to promise myself I won’t miss it again (cherry blossom season is one of my favourites, after all — no point in missing out on it two years in a row!).

Have a Self-Date in the Park

This is another great way to take advantage of spring weather, even if you’re not feeling up for walking. Next time there’s a particularly nice and warm day where you live, go ahead and plan out a nice day out for yourself! Pack a blanket, some lunch, some fancy drinks such as tea, mocktails, cocktails or whatever it is you love, and activities and anything else you want to spend your day doing! If you’re really feeling like going all-out, you can even dress up a little or do some fancy makeup — you don’t get many opportunities to do either anymore since lockdowns began, so you might as well, right?

Treat Yourself to Some New Spring Clothes

One of the best forms of self-care is retail therapy, IMO. Not only does it feel great to have some new items to look forward to wearing out, but if you shop online it’s always great to have something to look forward to when your package arrives. I’m really looking forward to adding some new items to my wardrobe this spring, personally — it’s been a while since I felt really, truly nice when I’ve left the house honestly, as I never get to dress up much anymore. When I do, a lot of my clothes feel pretty old and tired — especially since a lot of them have gotten a little tighter over the last year. I can’t wait to get a couple nice, new outfits and hopefully get the chance to get all dressed up and feel my best for the first time in a while sometime soon. Of course, whatever you feel like treating yourself to is up to you — maybe its clothes, or perhaps it’s makeup, home decor, accessories, shoes, wigs — whatever it is you’ve been needing in your life!

Spring Clean Your Home

Yes, okay, I totally posted about this one last week — but it really is a great way to feel you’re getting a fresh start. Its a good way to reduce the stress of clutter, be productive — and it can be fun, too! If you’re in the mood to do a big clean out of your home, feel free to make a day of it — complete with a playlist, some snacks, and whatever else makes cleaning fun to you. And of course, feel free to check out my ultimate spring cleaning guide if you need a good idea of where to start!

Take Up A New Form Of Exercise

Working out is arguably one of the best things you can do for your mental health (and, obviously, your physical well-being) — but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to start. For those of us who’ve spent this winter being a little (or very) sedentary, or for others who are looking to switch things up, why not give a new workout a try? Depending on what COVID lockdowns are looking like in your city, you can get yourself a gym membership or take a couple classes somewhere local — or you can just try something new at home! Even if you don’t have in-person workout options right now, there’s plenty of instructional videos out there you can follow. Whether you’re hoping to try yoga, HIIT, Zumba, dance, calisthenics, or whatever comes to mind, you’ll be able to find a video to help you get started and shake up your regular (or non-existent, no judgement here) workout routine!

Try A New Hobby

What’s a skill you’ve been hoping to try your hand at, but haven’t gotten around to yet? Perhaps you’ve been looking to get into art, photography, writing, dancing, music, reading, baking, candle-making… who knows, really? If you’ve been thinking about trying something new and have been putting it off, no matter what your reason, this is your sign! Start it now. Why not? If you start today, you’ll have one day’s more experience than if you started tomorrow. Just go for it. (And if starting is a little daunting, you can always check out my post on Three Steps To Mastering Any Skill to help set you on the right path!).

Start Meditating

If meditating is something you haven’t tried out before, I’d totally recommend giving it a go. A lot of people don’t really see the point until they try it for themselves. It really does help to ground you, release anxiety and clear your mind. It may take a couple of tries to really get the hang of it, but I’d recommend keeping at it — what’s the harm, right? There’s endless guided meditation videos on Youtube, meditation apps, on Spotify, and more — so there’s no shortage of free resources, especially if you’re new to the practice!

Plan A Classic Self-Care Day

If you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed, why not take the day off? If you’re hoping to make the most of it, you can plan out a full day of relaxing activities that you know you’ll love. (After all, I’m sure I’m not the only one guilty of spending my days off lying around doing nothing if I don’t have ideas in mind). This is a classic option that’s always a great way to deal with built-up stress. If you don’t really know where to start, no worries! You can check out my previous Fall Self-Care Night Ideas, but I’m sure you already have an idea or two in mind of what you’d like to spend your next day off doing anyway!

Happy Sunday, everyone! I hope you’re all doing well and staying safe. The last few weeks have been a little rough — COVID restrictions have been a little on-again, off again — perhaps I was getting a bit ahead of myself, but I did think things were going to be a little more normal by now than they are. I’ve also been getting busier, though, so life is slowly returning to normal (finally, right?). Apart from that, life has just been continuing on as normal… sometimes I feel a little ramble-y around the ends of my posts, since I honestly never have too much news to share. I did, however, spend my entire week binge-reading Attack on Titan (as I was too impatient to wait a whole year to find out how the show ended, since it is my favourite) so I guess there’s that! Apart from that though, things are just about the same as always — but is that really a bad thing? It may not be exciting, but I guess it’s better to have things be boring than it is the have them be bad. At the end of the day, we have that to be thankful for, right?

Much love,

Meredith

Three Easy Steps To Mastering Any Skill

Hi friends!

Happy Sunday!

This week, I wanted to discuss something that’s been at the forefront of most of our minds since about one year ago, when lockdowns began. (Crazy how it’s been pretty much exactly one year to the day now, right?). As soon as we all became locked inside with nothing to do, a sudden craze broke out across social media — and it urged us all to use our newfound free time to master new skills. Be it baking, cooking, exercising, writing, or art — suddenly everyone seemed like they were trying something new.

The whole concept, as I’ve discussed before, was a bit of a double-edged sword — on one hand, it’s always great to try new things, learn something new or push yourself like you haven’t before. On the other hand, however, there was immense pressure on social media to be using our spare time during one of the most stressful and unpredictable times of our lives to be productive. That being said — there is always benefit to learning new things. A year later on, I’m sure we’ve all seen skills that our family and friends have learned that we would love to learn to do ourselves. But how, exactly? Starting a new skill from scratch isn’t just challenging — it’s daunting as well. However, it isn’t impossible — in fact, it’s far from it. At the end of the day, you really only need three simple things to master any skill your heart desires: practice, passion, and patience. By the end of this post, I’m going to share with you exactly how you can master whichever skill it is you’ve been tempted to try — no matter your level of experience. (And of course, the most important step of all at the end of the day, no matter what skill you want to master, is just to START! Start now! There’s nothing stopping you. If you start today, you’ll just have that much more experience in a week than if you started tomorrow. Don’t worry about having it all be perfect from the get-go. You’ll get there, so just go for it.)

Practice

The first, and most obvious step, to mastering a skill is practice. Or perhaps it isn’t to most obvious — it seems so many people believe that “natural talent” is somehow key excelling at things, but that isn’t the case. Let me be clear — you do not need to be naturally talented and something to become great at it. Think of your skill as you would exercise (which works especially well if exercise is somehow related to the skill you wish to master): anyone who works out will become more fit with time. Sure, it takes a while, and perhaps we all move at different paces. Maybe some people have a bit of a head start, and maybe others don’t. However, with practice, anyone and everyone can become fit. However, no matter who you are — it takes a LOT of both time and effort to become incredibly strong and muscular. But really, the only thing stopping you from being the person who becomes super strong is how much you practice. This doesn’t mean that you should push yourself beyond healthy limits, though — what I’m trying to say is that anyone can build up a skill to the level of a master. It takes time, but there’s no need to rush — you’ll get there.

A little extra note that I’ve found really works for me as well — I find, personally, that I benefit significantly from practicing skills for, say, half an hour putting in my best effort and I do putting in four times as much time at only 50% effort. The quality of my effort, for me, matters. If I’m feeling distracted, or lazy, or trying to rush through practicing simply to finish, it doesn’t really get me anywhere — and it doesn’t show me results that I’m proud of.

Passion

The second thing you’ll need to be able to master a skill is passion. Let’s not get too deep here — I don’t mean that whatever it is you intend to learn has to be your life’s sole and absolute devotion. In fact, you’ll be able to cultivate more passion as you go. But as you start out, you simply need to be passionate enough about whatever skill you wish to learn to feel excited about it, and look forward to practicing it. Let’s say, for example, that your passion is drawing (just like me!). Ideally, if you’re looking get started as an artist, you should be excited to practice drawing and look forward to practicing it when you can. This will reflect in your life in any number of ways — looking forward to purchasing your artistic tools, getting excited about looking for reference images or drawing subjects, or feeling inspired by other’s art that you come across online. All of this passion should, hopefully, not only inspire you to practice — but to practice often. The best part of this step, at least for me personally, is that your passion and excitement grows as you see your hard work pay off. Every time I complete a drawing that I consider to be my personal best, it ignites a newfound wave of excitement to keep going and create something new.

Patience

The final step to mastering any skill is the hardest — patience. Do not feel discouraged if you don’t see results as fast as you think you’re supposed to. Learning takes time, and the path to mastering a new skill is seldom linear. Sometimes you’ll feel like you’re making huge amounts of progress, and others you’ll feel stuck in a rut. Whether you feel it or not, though, every time you dedicate yourself to practicing, you’re making progress. Slow progress is still progress. It may take months, or even years, to truly master your chosen skill — and even then, you’ll still always have more to learn. Even if you feel you had a good momentum the first few months and then stopped seeing progress, I’d encourage you not to give up — I’m sure you’re still making progress that even you can’t see. The smallest increments, with time, will get you to where you want to be. And what’s more, you never know when you may have that moment where you can feel everything fall into place; where you feel like you finally get it. If you’ve started and feel lost, that moment will come. Just keep working towards it.

Be sure not to compare yourself to others — some people may experience quick learning in the beginning, some people may take a while to get the hang of things — but the point is, is that ANYONE can master ANYTHING with proper dedication. You do not need to be naturally gifted to become great at something — in fact, most people that are started off just where you are now. The only reason, I believe, that people who are “naturally gifted” tend to excel in particular skills is that they’re motivated by their results early on that drive their passion to continue practicing — just as you will with time. Keep at it, and one day you’ll realize how far you’ve come since you started — and it’ll only drive your passion to keep going and learning more.

Now, I know what some of you may be thinking. To some extent, art has always been my thing. How do you, or even I, know whether I’m good at it because I followed these steps, or if it’s just because I’m inherently an artistic person? My evidence to show you otherwise is twofold — firstly, while I was pretty active in practicing art back in high school, after first year I pretty much gave up on art all together until after graduation (save for a couple of doodles in the margins of my notebooks). When I first started drawing again, I was no where near the level I was in high school. After just a few years of non-practice, while I didn’t have to start entirely from scratch, I had lost any so-called natural talent and had absolutely no ability to even draw a simple proportionate face. (I’d share a photo with you all of how my first few drawings looked when I was starting out, but I’m honestly too embarrassed. When I say they’re bad, I mean — they’re REALLY bad). There’s no shame in that, though — I had to start somewhere. On top of that, once my line work started to improve in quality, I still had another obstacle to beat — I wanted to learn how to use alcohol-based markers, and draw in colour (which was NOT something I had any previous experience in). Back in high school, I almost entirely drew my art in pencils, or in greyscale — I almost never used colour. I didn’t paint often, and even though I used colour pencils on occasion, it was pretty rare. Learning how to shade in colour is an entirely different skill from pencil and grayscale shading — as well, I had never tried alcohol markers before and I had no idea how to blend and use them. Honestly, it took a lot of time. While I hit a couple ruts along the way, I’ve had not one, but multiple moments where I felt things beginning to click — and those moments really revolutionized my own abilities and revived my passion to practice.

My second example, however, is much more recent; I’ve been trying my hand at digital art. Digital art is something I actually tried once (although briefly) in the past, but gave up on. This time, however, I’m going in with a little more dedication, and I’m following my own advice. When it comes to digital art, I know absolutely next to nothing. Drawing on a tablet does not come easily to me in any way, shape or form — I don’t find it intuitive, or at all similar to drawing with pencils and paper. It was really discouraging at first, honestly. I kind of ended up avoiding practicing for a month and a half, opting to continue with my marker-based art because I was so daunted by having to learn something from scratch. Even though I’ve had a slow start to it, however, I finally had a moment last week — I felt something click. It’s not like I’ve suddenly become an overnight expert (far from it in fact, I still have a long way to go), but for the first time I felt like I kind of knew what I was doing. I really lacked patience with my first few digital drawings, to be fair — I rushed through them and had quit on every single one so far partway through when I started to feel that each piece was beyond help. With a little time and effort, however, I finally created an outline that may not be perfect, but that I am proud of. I still have a long way to go — how to colour in digital art is still something I have next to no idea how to do — but I don’t have to get there right away. I’m sure one day, I’ll be able to figure it out.

I wanted to share a little bit of my own personal progress with you all, to give you a little idea of what I’m talking about (or perhaps some inspiration to get started on a skill of your own!). I, personally, love drawing cartoon style — most of my drawings are characters from my favourite TV shows and movies. These two pictures were taken six months apart: the drawing on the left (Aang from Avatar: the Last Airbender) was one of my very first that I used alcohol markers on, and the one on the right (Armin Arlert from Attack on Titan), was from a few weeks back. Neither of them are perfect, sure, and I still have a long way to go. But look at how much I’ve improved! Six months may sound like a long time to take to improve now, but it won’t feel that way if you’re constantly putting in effort and enjoying yourself, rather than counting the days. Who knows just how good I may be in another six month’s time.

As for my progress in my digital artistic endeavours, this is the outline in question (Eren Jaeger from last week’s episode of Attack on Titan). I’m still in the process of colouring it in, but as I said, I have a lot to learn and it’s taking me a while to get the hang of. However, this line work is by far the best I’ve done so far in my digital art journey, and it was the first time EVER that I felt like I kind of knew what I was doing. Once again, it’s far from perfect — but who cares! I’ll get better eventually, and frankly (especially when you compare it to absolutely any of my other attempts), I’m pretty proud of it.

I hope you’re all having a great week, and have another great week ahead of you! I won’t lie, you guys — I had no idea it was daylight savings today, and I spent a good half of my day being awfully confused. I’m not complaining, though — the days are getting longer, and we’ve had a few days here in Vancouver that have finally started to feel like spring. The last few weeks of winter are always the longest — more so this year than others — but it seems we’re finally at the end of winter, and possibly through the worst of COVID (fingers crossed). It really is starting to feel like things are finally returning to normal, and that there are better days ahead.

Until next Sunday,

Meredith

How To Cope With Writers Block In Lockdown

Hey everyone!

Soooo, I’m back with a little how-to on something I’ve been struggling with a lot lately — something, I’m sure, we’re all familiar with. Writers block has plagued everyone at some point or another. Even if you’re not a writer, you know the exact feeling I’m talking about from being stuck on ideas when you need to come up with something new but just cannot seem to find the inspiration you usually do.

Writers block can hit anywhere, at anytime, but after the first few months of being in lockdown, it has become insidious. For a while, I thought maybe my trouble with creating new blog content was low motivation (which has certainly played a role), but I’m starting to realize that it’s nearly impossible to write blog posts about my life and experiences when all I’m doing my best to spend most of my time at home.

After a certain point in lockdown, I started to feel I had written out almost everything I had to say about the current situation, how I was reacting to it, and how to cope with it all. However, it’s hard to transition back to normal content when I’ve yet to transition back to normal life. I couldn’t figure out why it was so hard to come up with new ideas, until I realized how mundane lockdown life is compared to how life was before — even though my life was already rather repetitive with work and school. I still had other experiences; travelling, going home, balancing a busy schedule, trying new things — all things that are no longer really a part of my life. Back when I had more going on in my life, I had more to share.

Now, I know that none of these tips really do anything to help with the current situation in particular — they’re just my personal tips on dealing with writer’s block. However, hopefully you can use this experience to learn how to deal with feeling stuck creatively in the future, practice your craft, and become a stronger writer for it!

Daily Free Writes

This was a tip suggested to me in many of my classes in university that I always kind of brushed off as useless until I properly gave them a chance. I know this is likely different for everyone, but most of my best writing ideas do not strike me randomly, in fact, most of them come to me WHILE I am writing. Inspiration can come from anywhere, obviously, but when your brain is focused fully on writing it will actively generate ideas more frequently.

I’m sure I can’t be the only person who understands the feeling of getting a wave of inspiration while writing, that leads to another, that leads to a domino effect of ideas that I almost feel I cannot write out quickly enough to keep up with. If you know the feeling, just remember you never get there unless you are writing first. Inspiration is a lot less likely to strike out of nowhere, and you can’t just sit around forever until it does. Take matters into your own hands and just go for it! Whatever you start off with in your free writes will likely be nothing special (or even downright terrible), but as you get into it inspiration will start to flow more freely. Give into it and let it take you wherever it will!

Make A Cute Writing Set-Up

Next up, create a space for you to practice writing in that you love. Ideally, wherever you’re going to work should be comfortable, well-lit, and quiet. Past that, your workspace should be somewhere you love spending time in and should inspire you to spend more time there — because the more time you spend there, the more time you spend writing! Finally, your writing set up should be decorated in a way that makes you happy — whatever it is that helps to create the right vibes for you. So hit up Pinterest, save a bunch of workspace ideas that you just can’t get enough of, and work some of that inspo into a space of your very own!

Take Breaks

This piece of advice kind of goes against most of what I’ve already said, however, if you’re feeling burnt out, there’s no point in trying to force yourself to write when you really just can’t. Take some time off, whether its half an hour, or a night, or a whole week — it’s really up to you. Whatever you need to feel refreshed and ready to tackle your latest project with everything you’ve got.

Write More, Cut More

If you’re feeling stuck, you’re better off putting down absolutely idea you have than trying to edit yourself as you go. This is kind of the same idea as practicing with free writes, but if you’re too worried in the moment about whether or not what you’re writing is engaging, exciting, or even making sense, you’ll only be holding yourself back. Instead, just write it all out and refine it down to the best bits later — you’ll be able to tailor it into a great piece with enough editing. However, there’ll be nothing to edit if you never start — so just go for it and figure the rest out later.

Keep An Idea List

While most of my inspiration does hit me either while I’m actively writing or thinking about what I want to blog about, we all know that feeling where inspiration hits you out of absolutely nowhere. For when moments like these strike me, I like to keep a little list at the ready in my iPhone Notes app to jot it down as quickly as possible, before the idea gets away from me. My worst habit is coming up with ideas and just believing that I’ll remember them — because how could I ever forget such a great idea? And yet, time and time again, if I don’t write it down I don’t remember it when it comes time to write out a new post. It’s frustrating, but if I have my list at the ready in my phone I’m much more likely to write it down and remember it. And don’t just write down the good ideas — try to write down EVERY idea. Just like I said above, just because your idea isn’t quite there yet doesn’t mean it can’t be workshopped into an amazing post idea.

Read More & Get Inspired!

Finally, one of the biggest ways to get inspired as a writer is to actively be keeping up with what others in your niche are writing. (Or, honestly, even those not in your niche. It’s important to be taking in inspiration from all kinds of sources to help broaden your perspective and scope!). Reading other’s blogs should bring you excitement and shouldn’t be solely for reaping ideas — the point of this isn’t to simply plagiarize other’s blog posts. However, reading what others have to say will help to give you ideas for similar posts, get your creative juices flowing, and inform your opinion of what’s currently being discussed in your blog niche to help you stay up-to-date on the latest trends. Not that you need to be — your blog is all about what YOU have to say, after all. However, it’s always important to know what’s popular amongst what people are creating, reading and sharing. Plus, it might just inspire your new greatest post! Always try to keep an open mind and take in as much as possible, so that your craft as a writer is always growing and moving forward.

Hopefully, after reading through this list, you’re all feeling a little more inspired than you were before. The takeaway of this post, I hope, is that there’s really no way around writer’s block — the only way is through. While pushing yourself too much will leave you tired and frustrated, you won’t get anything done if you don’t try. Inspiration always hits us when we least expect it — and often, it comes randomly while we are actively writing. With a little effort, time, and luck, even with life’s current circumstances, you should be back on track before you know it.

If you’ve been feeling frustrated with writing lately, or have some other personal tips for getting past writers block, drop a comment below! I’d love to hear any advice you guys have. While I’m working on it, I’m still struggling a lot with new ideas for content and I’d be more than happy to try anything you guys have to suggest.

Happy Sunday everyone, hopefully you all have a great week planned out! And just remember — while it feels like our current reality will last forever, it won’t. One day in the future, things will be different and right now will be nothing but a memory. Keep going.

Much love,

Meredith