My Stay-At-Home Lifestyle & How I’m Keeping My Life On Track!

Hey y’all!

Super long title, I know. But at this point in time, after a very turbulent start to Social Distancing, I’m FINALLY beginning to feel like I’ve got a good routine going that’s both maintainable and relaxing. I feel like I’m not alone when I say it’s been difficult to not let my life and mental health completely fall apart over the last few months — on one hand, as I’ve been laid off, I don’t exactly have a lot of responsibilities right now outside of blogging, cooking, and cleaning. On the other hand, if I let myself lie around all day, waking up and going to bed whenever I feel like it and just watching Netflix all day, it’ll be a short path to falling into a severe depressive episode and becoming, likely, entirely nocturnal.

Obviously, that’s really not ideal. But I’ve also just come off of the most stressful year of my life — I really need a break. It’s hard to find the balance — trust me, it took me up until now to feel like I was really starting to get the handle of things — but it’s starting to feel like it is possible. If you’ve still been having trouble working out how to keep your life in order lately, or have been feeling as though your mental health is declining, hopefully my little schedule here works for you. You don’t need to copy it out point for point, obviously, but maybe you’ll be able to take inspiration to apply to your own life, or make your own schedule, that helps you keep it together in the face of sitting at home with absolutely nothing to do.

For those of you who have been keeping up with my posts lately, you’ll already know that I worked at a bar pre-COVID-19, which obviously closed to the public once stay at home orders were enacted. As a FOH employee, I was laid off. This ended up being a small blessing as it gave me time and extra energy to focus on my final exams, however, once those finished up the first few days of excitement and freedom gave way to the realization that I really had nothing to do.

For the last year I’ve been so busy that I’ve been putting off loads of tasks for when I had more time — but now I have too much time, and browsing online stores for furniture to complete my apartment and completing a couple of fixes around my home surprisingly aren’t the most time-consuming tasks all of a sudden. As such, I’ve been really trying to focus my energy on this blog, my hobbies and my chores, while still allowing plenty of time to kick back and relax. While my life would quite literally fall apart if I spent all this time doing nothing, spending every waking moment doing SOMETHING isn’t the most sustainable — and it’s entirely unnecessary. I don’t know about you guys, but I really needed this break. So I’m going to take this time to enjoy it — while I need discipline, I also need to not be too hard on myself right now.

The following is my daily schedule that I’ve been following pretty strictly since the last week of April. As someone who’s always tried to keep SOME semblance of a schedule in life, I don’t think I really realized what it was like to follow a schedule so strictly — it’s the sort of thing I honestly haven’t done since high school. While it certainly took some getting used to, so far, it’s really helped me feel as normal and productive as possible lately.

8:30am: Wake Up. This is a lot earlier than I’ve woken up at regularly for years — but it’s actually pretty enjoyable. Mornings are so lovely when you’re actually up to see them, and getting up “early” makes you feel like you have a good start on the day. Overall, I feel a lot more positive when I wake up around 8:30-9:00 am lately than letting myself sleep in everyday until 10:00-11:00 (which was when I used to wake up). Even if you’re awake for the same amount of hours, you feel like you have more time when you wake up early, you feel more refreshed, and it’s been putting me in a more positive mindset to get stuff done.

8:45am: Morning Skincare. I let myself have a little time to get out of bed and face the day, and then I go about my morning skincare routine, as well as brushing my teeth and hair before I go eat breakfast. As well, before I go eat, I’m sure change out of my PJs and into some workout gear.

9:00am: Breakfast. I don’t usually meal prep breakfast foods, so it takes me a couple minutes to throw something together. However, I find the sooner I eat after I wake up, the sooner I begin to feel alert and awake.

9:30am: Yoga. This has become my favourite part of the day. Before I actually began scheduling my life, I used running as my main form of stay-at-home workouts. However, I found running to be a little daunting and since I didn’t have any solid schedule, it was pretty easy to just push working out back endlessly. However, the lack of movement in my lifestyle was kinda starting to take its toll — I really felt crappy (emotionally and physically). When I made this schedule, I decided to incorporate Adriene Mischler’s 30 Days of Yoga to my daily routine. I’ve been loving this as it’s great for beginners, is easy enough to complete every day, doesn’t require a lot of at-home materials and is something I actually look forward to. While yoga is a work out, it’s also a great way to stretch, move your body and relax too — making it seem like less of a stressful workout than running.

10:00am: Shower. Pretty self-explanatory. Depending if I have to wash my hair or not, I take whatever free time I have after this to get started on whatever activities I have planned at 1pm — or just relax a little.

12:00pm: Lunch. Also pretty self explanatory, but I figured I’d add how I try to give lunch it’s own separate space — as in, I don’t multitask while I have lunch. I just sit down and enjoy it, and then move on to the activities I want to fill my day with!

1:00pm: Activities. This can kind of be anything, but I try to settle on what I want to do the night before. Whether it’s blogging, grocery shopping, cleaning, getting my May tasks complete, doing my makeup, creating art, playing Animal Crossing — I often plan out which activities the next day will hold during my bedtime routine, and write them out so I don’t forget. I generally try to pick around 2 activities for each day, depending on what I want to do and what I need to get done.

6:00pm: Meal Prep. This only happens every four days, but an hour before dinner I plan, prep and make dinner for that night and the three nights following. I enjoy cooking, but it can be a huge task to undertake — so if I meal prep and already have a home cooked meal ready, it’ll deter me from ordering in some unhealthy or expensive take-out on a whim.

7:00pm: Dinner. Also pretty self explanatory — and once again, like lunch, I give dinner it’s own space.

8:00pm: Netflix & Chill. This one is kind of important — I set a nightly space for Netflix and relaxing. The important part being — I don’t watch TV shows or movies before 8pm. I’ve been sticking with this since before I even made this schedule, and I’ve found it to be incredibly helpful for productivity. Giving myself time to watch Netflix and chill out each night helps me balance out being active in the daytime without overworking myself. It gives me something to look forward to at the end of each day, but also keeps me from lying in bed all day binge-watching shows I don’t even care about — which makes me feel lazy and can cause me to ignore my needs, sending my mental health spiralling. As well, I’m really not a productive person at night, and I hate how crunching in activities before bed makes me feel. As such, this time is for Netflix and relaxing ONLY — and this is what helps to keep my days balanced.

11:00pm: Bedtime routine. Before I go to sleep each night, I make some tea, get ready for bed, do my skincare routine (plus any face masks I’m in the mood for), and then go over my bullet journal. I mark down my mood and all the habits I completed, and read through to get inspiration for what I should do tomorrow/what I want to get done by the end of the month. After this, I turn on a relaxing YouTube video or Audiobook, and lay down for a little bit before bed.

12:00am: Lights out. It’s bedtime!

So that’s my daily schedule! I don’t switch it up ever, not even for weekends. As weekend-days have no real meaning to me anymore so allowing myself to “stay up late” or “sleep in” would just throw off my whole schedule. However, I kind of give myself up to half-hour buffering period with the times on this schedule as it’s very hard to keep everything perfect down to the minute. As well, it wouldn’t really give me freedom to enjoy my day and the ability to complete tasks if I’m rushing to move onto the next thing. As well, there’s no rush right now — and no point in stressing myself out! The point of this schedule is to keep me on track and at peace — not cause anxiety or pressure.

Have you guys been keeping up a routine in quarantine? (I’ve been trying to avoid the work quarantine in my posts due to the negative connotation, but I just couldn’t resist the urge to rhyme — sorry!). If so, I’d love to hear about what’s been working best for you, or how your schedules differ from mine. Maybe a more elaborate schedule helps, or maybe breaking things down by week and month makes more sense to you. If you’ve been feeling like you’re floundering lately and need something to bring a little balance into your stay-at-home life, hopefully this break down of my routine left you feeling inspired! I can’t even begin to tell you guys how much having it, whether I stick to it perfectly every day or not, has helped me and my mental well-being during the last little while.

Hope you’re all staying safe out there, and have a great week!

Much love,

Meredith

Advice To Help Deal With Depression

Hey guys,

So, full disclosure — this was actually a post I wrote when I first started my blog nearly a year ago. I wrote it as one of my very first posts, but I hesitated on sharing it until now. Unfortunately, there is still a massive stigma around discussing mental illness, and while there has certainly been steps taken in the right direction, as a society we still have a long ways to go. Sharing this post is a little scary for me, I won’t lie — it feels very uncomfortable to open up too deeply on the internet to everyone who knows me (and countless who don’t) about my personal struggles with mental illness. It still is challenging to open up like this, but I’m hoping that by sharing this I too will be helping take steps in the right direction to help open up discussion between others, and I’m hoping I’ll also be able to help anyone who’s struggling and doesn’t know where to start.

Mental illness is something I have struggled with for just about as long as I can remember. However, the stigma around talking about it is something that I knew about far before that. The first time I ever had to receive help for my mental illness, I was only twelve years old. At the time, it was something so seldom spoken about that it was even kept a secret even from my sister. This is not something that should reflect poorly on my family — that’s just how everyone dealt with mental illness at the time. In the last eleven years, things have certainly changed a lot — but there’s still a long way to go. My family now is very open with each other about mental illness, and how beneficial it has been has been clear as day. I’m hoping that by sharing this I can help others to be more open to discussion, and help those who are struggling to feel comfortable opening up to family, friends, or doctors. As well, if you don’t quite feel comfortable with that yet, whether you know me personally or not, I’d like you to know you can always talk to me. I may not understand what you, personally, are going through, but it always helps to talk it out in a judgement-free space, especially with someone who could potentially relate. (If you don’t know me personally, you can always feel free to reach me via Twitter DM). As well, if you don’t feel comfortable with that either, no worries — I’ve also attached some crisis hotlines at the end of this post for those who need it.

As a final reminder, the advice I’ve attached below is just what has worked for me personally. It may not all be helpful to everyone, and some of you reading this may think that none of it sounds useful whatsoever. Everyone has different things that work for them; depression is a complex disease and there is no one simple and easy cure-all. I’m just hoping that at least one item on this list may help someone, even the smallest change is still change. The rest of the post following is the original post I created last May.

I know this is something I have discussed before briefly but I have struggled with mental illness my whole life. While some of my diagnoses come and go, depression seems to have stuck around for the long run. Now, I know this is a difficult subject and not everything here works for everyone. Honestly, some people may read this list and think that none of it sounds legit. However, this is what tends to help me out best and I figured I’d share on the off chance it may help someone else.

Living with depression is something that takes constant effort to persevere through. Not everything works for everyone. Some people manage their illness alone, while some use therapy to assist. I myself take medication to help alleviate my symptoms. However, as my doctor pointed out one visit — antidepressant medication helps, but you have to put in the effort to make it work. Simply taking antidepressants while putting in no additional effort is rarely effective. So here’s a list of some of the things I do to help make my medications work best! Even if you don’t take medication, chances are some of these tips will help you out too.

  1. Get out of bed as quickly as you can in the morning. It’s hard, but do your best not to hit the snooze button too many times. Chances are if you’re able to push through it you’ll feel much less tired while waking up, as well as throughout the day.
  2. Set an alarm every day, even on the weekends. Having a routine is key. Even if you have a day off, you should still do your best to wake up and stick to it.
  3. Have a morning routine you follow everyday. Do your best to follow the same steps every morning. I’m not too sure why, but this one really helps me.
  4. Eat healthy. I personally find the key to maintaining a healthy diet is moderation. If you try to stick too hard to eating 100% healthy, odds are you’ll end up binging or even fall off the wagon completely and end up in a phase of super unhealthy eating (I know I do). So try to eat healthy, allow yourself an unhealthy snack when you want it, eat some junk food everyone once in a while, and just try to keep a normal balance.
  5. As a side note, try to eat breakfast every day. I find it helps keep you on track to eat at least three meals, as well as help jumpstart your day. I’ve gone until dinner without eating more times than I can count, but if I eat breakfast I often follow with other scheduled meals as well.
  6. Keep yourself busy throughout the day. It’s exhausting, but at least you’ll be ready to sleep whenever your scheduled bed time is.
  7. Take some time for self-care. This is important for everyone, but it’s especially important to check in with yourself if you struggle with mental illness.
  8. Get outside. Just go for a walk if you’re not feeling up to something big. The fresh air always helps me clear my head.
  9. EXERCISE. Yes, people say this one all the time. It really is for a reason. If you can learn to love working out, it will improve your mental health SO MUCH. Personally I’m being a bit of a hypocrite here as I haven’t been to the gym in months. But whenever I get into the routine of working out I notice immediate changes in my quality of life. In particular, if you’re in a more severe depressive state, about halfway through your work out you can literally FEEL the endorphins have an effect on your brain.
  10. Socialize as much as you can, based on your schedule. Even if you’re tired and stressed. Spending time with people you love, who don’t cause you stress, really does help. It doesn’t have to be anything big, either — it can just be hanging out at one of your houses doing nothing at all.
  11. Try to plan out your day as best as you can. At my best times, I schedule my life almost to the hour. It helps keep you out of bed if you’ve written down that you have somewhere to be.
  12. Clean your space. I really knew my medications were starting to work when I started keeping my room clean. Back before I started taking them, my room was a MESS. Nowadays, I keep my space tidy, do my laundry regularly, and even make my bed every day. If you’re not ready to deep clean everything, just try to tidy up. If you’re already pretty tidy, try to make a routine of stuff such as vacuuming, mopping, and regularly cleaning up your space. If you’re ready for it, do a whole Marie Kondo-style clean up of your things. Her show really did inspire me to go through my stuff and clear out things I didn’t need. Keeping a clear space helps me to keep my mind clear and reduce stress.
  13. Try to present yourself well when you go out. I don’t mean start doing your hair and makeup every day if that’s not something you usually do. Just do whatever it is that makes you feel presentable when you go out in public, even if you aren’t going to see people you know. It helps with your confidence and overall happiness when you aren’t worried about how you look.
  14. Make changes in your life. This is more for people in severe depressive episodes who can’t seem to get out of them. Shake things up a little. I recently had to move out of my old apartment, which wasn’t my choice, but the move to a new space really did help me out of a bad phase. It doesn’t have to be something that big, but if you can do something that really makes a change in your life, go for it!
  15. Lastly, talk to your doctor. Even if you’re coping 100% fine on your own, it doesn’t hurt. Talking about things helps. On top of that, you may not even realize how bad things are — I know I didn’t. I thought I was coping just fine on my own, and was totally missing the signs I needed medications and was back in a depressive episode. With Major Depressive Disorder, it is possible to go into remission. However, even if you’re in remission and doing fantastic right now, you may slip back into a depressive state without even noticing it. Medical professionals know what they’re doing, contrary to many people’s beliefs. They know how to help with psychiatric issues. You may feel like no one understands what you’re going through, but that is the nature of depression. Your doctor may not “get it”, but they will know how to help.

I know that depression presents itself differently in everyone and these tips will not work for everyone. But I really hope that for some of you guys reading this, you find something here that helps. If anyone wants to chat with me about anything, I’m always open to discuss! It may seem on the outside, especially over social media, that everyone else around you is living an absolute perfect, struggle-free life, but that is rarely the case. Big or small, everyone has a battle in life you likely know nothing about. Remember how important it is to be kind. And lastly, if anyone has any of their own tips they’d like to share I’d love to hear them.

Love you all,

Meredith

Crisis Hotlines

Distress Line Numbers BC

Greater Vancouver: 604-872-3311
Toll Free: 1-866-661-3311
TTY: 1-866-872-0113
Senior’s Distress: 604-872-1234

International Crisis Hotlines

1-800-SUICIDE: 1-800-784-2433

Self Care Tips: Part One

Hey friends!

So to start off, anyone who knows me in real life knows I am a huge advocate of self-care. In this day and age, with burnout becoming increasingly common in the population, taking some time out of your day just for yourself and to relax is super important. While so many people I know claim they don’t have daily time to take for themselves, I find that if you really try, you can always make time. Whether it means finding ways to free up your schedule a bit or maximizing your efficiency throughout the day to leave more spare time for yourself, taking a bit of time every day is important to maintaining good mental health.

Mental health is important, something we all have, and not the same as mental illness. I find this distinction to be super important, as someone who has struggled with mental illness my whole life, as nowadays people advocate a lot for mental health but do not often do the same for mental illness. Often times, people lump the two together while they are really two separate concepts. Everyone has to maintain good mental health; stress is one of the most detrimental things to your health. I won’t get too deeply into it right now, but stress is truly a silent killer. Daily stress can lead to many health issues, both in the short term and in the long run. This is why I find daily self care so important — anything you can do to reduce your daily stress levels, even if just a little, is hugely beneficial for your overall health. The distinction here is not everyone struggles with mental illness, even though it is highly prevalent in the modern day population. However, many people who do not cope with mental illness don’t really seem to see the point in taking care of their mental health, which is something I have seen take a toll on so, so many of my peers. So I’d figure I’d share a little list of some of my favourite self care practices! Some of these are daily activities, while some of them are just things to improve the quality of your day to day life.

I know you’ve probably heard plenty of these before, but if you guys like this list I’ll keep publishing more and hopefully you can all find new techniques that work for you!

  1. Invest in a diffuser. You don’t need an expensive one, you can find them fairly cheap on sites like amazon. They help keep your room smelling nice and fresh and also improve the air quality in your room!
  2. Watch an episode of your favourite TV show. You don’t have to do a whole binge, just taking half an hour for an episode is a great way to take a break.
  3. Go for a walk! Just getting some outside air, exercise, and taking some time away from life’s stresses actually does wonders for your mental health.
  4. Buy some plants! It’s been shown that having plants inside helps lower feelings of depression, as well as improve the air quality of your home. Personally, I love succulents as well as medium sized leafy plants, and always keep a couple of fresh flowers in my room.
  5. Shut off all social media for an hour before bed. Yeah, this one is hard and many people may deny that social media effects your mental health. But think of it this way — so much is always going on with social media, and the constant notifications get hectic. Isn’t it nice before bed to just be able to calm down, relax, and not be distracted while you take some time to read, draw, watch TV, listen to music, etc? The amount of things you can do in this hour are endless.
  6. Pick up an old hobby! I feel the older we get the less hobbies we have. Take some time to do something you love that you haven’t had time for in a while.
  7. Use a face mask! I mean, if you’re into skin care you’re probably doing this anyway, but it’s also a great way to relax and feel refreshed.
  8. Invest in something nice for yourself! In particular, maybe a cute new outfit, makeup product you’ve been dying to try, nice decor for your room or a nice candle. Any of these things can help as a little pick me up. Personally, I’m gonna use this one soon and invest in a good candle. I love Bath and Body Works as much as the next gal, but their candles are actually kinda pricey and for the same amount you can get a nice soy candle with a nice, relaxing scent.
  9. Go on a date with yourself! It can be weird at first, but hanging out by yourself at a cute cafe, at the beach or wherever works best for you can be a great way to relax mid-day and take some time for yourself.
  10. Take a really long shower. I don’t even think I have to explain this one, but nothing really feels better than taking a nice, warm shower before bed and going to bed feeling clean and relaxed (bonus points if you’ve just washed your sheets).

Anyways, I hope everyone can find something on this list that’s new and works well for them! If you guys like these tips I’ll compile another list in the future. Make sure to take care of yourselves, it’s a crazy world out there.

Love you all,

Meredith