Quitting Toxic Blogging Positivity Culture

It sounds strange, doesn’t it? That positivity can be toxic.

However, over the last year, it’s really become increasingly clear to me that our culture has an unhealthy obsession with being happy, perfect and productive 24/7. We see it play out time and time again in media and advertising, on social media, and blogging in particular. But it’s more than that — it plays out in the real world, too, and has serious effects on our lives and mental health. This mentality wreaked havoc on my life in 2020 — and frankly, I’m done with it.

Now I don’t mean this in any sort of a bad way — especially since doing so would make me a hypocrite — but overall, the vast majority of blog posts that lifestyle bloggers produce have to do with productivity, goal-setting, or somehow creating the perfect life. Which I guess is sort of the point — if you’re a lifestyle blogger, you’re selling your lifestyle. It makes sense that you want it to look as good as it can possibly be. After all, everyone shares only the absolute best parts of their lives on social media and many (if not all of us) have exaggerated here and there every once in a while. The issue I want to talk about isn’t sharing the best moments and images of your life on social media, though. What I’m talking about — and hoping to fix in my own life — pertains pretty specifically to blogging.

Think about it. How many times have you seen a lifestyle blogger (myself included) share a post listing the numerous different ways you can change your life to be productive, or organized, or successful? Posts that create an image of a lifestyle that the blogger is living where they wake up early, work out, eat healthy, take perfect care of their skin, hair, and makeup, are successful and their job, with full social lives to top it all off? Maybe it isn’t spelled out directly, but it’s often implied. “Do this, and your life will be perfect.” While some people post practical guides, many of these guides are impossible to follow to a T. Simply put — the lifestyle depicted in these blog posts is not a realistic one.

I know I’m not the only one guilty of making posts like this. But do you really know anyone in real life who lives like that? I know some crazy successful people — but I don’t actually know anyone who can “do it all”. There’s only 24 hours in a day, and everyone has to pick and choose. I promise you, regardless of how it may seem online, absolutely no one’s life is flawless 24/7. I know some of you out there won’t believe me, and I know some of you know this in theory but often forget it in reality. But I promise you no one’s life is as perfect as it looks on social media. Not that influencer you love who seems to always look perfect, or Kylie Jenner, or the girl who seems like she owns everything you could ever want — not even the small blogger who seems to have their life 100% put together. None of them.

So why are we pretending that our lives ARE perfect? There’s a good chance that even if you think you’re not, you still may be. I want you to ask yourself if holding yourself to this standard is helping you, or if it’s actually hurting you. Of course we all want to put out a good image on social media — it’s not like I’m going to start posting pictures of myself without my hair washed and in my grossest old PJs on my Instagram — but what is up with going above and beyond lately? Why do we have to pretend like we’re productive and positive 24/7? Like our lives are busy all the time? Even a pandemic didn’t seem to stop the tirade of pretending to be productive all the time. So what will?

It wasn’t until last year that it really became abundantly clear to me just how damaging toxic positivity and hustle culture can be. While it’s certainly been a problem far before 2020 ever began, watching the world lock down due to a global pandemic really shone a light on how deeply ingrained and problematic this issue is within our society. I didn’t see it at first — in fact, for the first half of the pandemic, during the most emotionally challenging time I’ve ever gone through, I fell victim to it. No matter what life threw at me, I felt the need to “bounce back” as quickly as possible. In reality, though, it was impossible to keep up.

Tw: Death. I get into some pretty personal stuff the next few paragraphs, so if you don’t want to read it for whatever reason, feel free to skip past the italicized text — I promise I return to the main point afterwards!

Back in March of 2020, I was dealing with the grief of losing two very important people to me over the span of 5 weeks right as stay-at-home orders were put in place. I studying for my Biopsych final, which would decide whether or not I graduated from UBC, and on top of that, I was coming off what had been one of the most stressful and uncertain years of my life. In early 2019, I received the news that despite all the times I checked my graduation requirements, and my friends checked my requirements, and I had university advisors check over my requirements, I was somehow missing a class that I needed in order to graduate. I’d heard stories from friends of the same thing happening to them, but I’d been so careful — I figured there was no way it would happen to me.

But it did, and it was kind of devastating. Any plans I had went up in smoke, and ever since I’ve distinctly felt as though I’ve fallen behind in life, and that I wasted an entire year. For the first time in my life, I was kind of left alone without any sort of plan. Eventually, I picked up a job at a sports bar, often working 7 days a week, while I finished up my classes. My job often asked far too much of me, and took advantage of the fact that I was so capable of being the only host at such a large establishment during their busiest season. Could I handle it? Yeah, sort of. But just because I could push myself to my limits didn’t mean that I should. Yet, due to the very same culture that forces us to act productive and happy 24/7, I felt like I had to power through.

As the pandemic shut down the world, the pressure I put myself under while studying for my final was crushing. I spent almost every day for the first four weeks of lockdown studying from when I woke until bedtime. I struggled heavily with insomnia during those weeks. I was often so tired and overwhelmed with anxiety that I would physically shake for hours as I did my work — even though I knew that I was excelling in the class, and there was no need to be so hard on myself. I cried about losing my friend every single day up until the day that my Grandma passed away — but after that, I simply shut down. The following day after my grandma passed, I stopped crying. I barely remember what the two weeks between then and my final were like — all I remember is I stopped crying and I kept studying.

Through it all, however, I kept posting semi-regularly on my blog. I’d say I did everything I could to keep posting regularly, but I did more than everything I could — I was pushing myself beyond my limits. But so much of blogging revolves around showing others how to live their best life, based on how “perfect” your own life is. So I kept up the facade. One of my closest friends in the world passed away, and I only allowed myself only one week off from posting blogs. At the time, I thought I was taking it easy on myself — I missed a couple blog posts here and there, and while I felt guilty about it, I shared some posts mentioning I was taking a week or two off and did my best to not fall behind. However, every time I missed a post I felt as though I had failed. I felt guilty sharing my Spring FabFitFun unboxing three weeks late — as if it really mattered. Immediately after I finished up my final, I resumed posting twice a week — I didn’t even give myself the slightest break. However, it wasn’t good enough to pretend to have it all together online — I truly believed I had to have my life perfectly under control offline, too.

Back in early lockdowns (and even still now), we were constantly being bombarded with advertisements from companies about “being productive” now that we had the time, and “getting on top of things” while we could. And very quickly, we all bought into it as well. Once one person starts doing it, we all feel the need to keep up. Even though we were collectively going through an incredibly uncertain and stressful period in our lives, we felt the need to keep up with what we saw others doing online. Perfecting a new skill, daily workouts, cleaning your whole house, social media challenges, keeping up with all the biggest Netflix trends, finding a side hustle — I’m sure we all felt the pressure to do one, if not ALL of these at some point back in March/April of last year.

But why? Why did we all feel the need to be as busy as possible in a time when there was, objectively, nothing to do? Why did I feel the need to only take a week or two off before launching into creating a strict routine, sleep schedule, workout regimen and blogging itinerary when I was coping with so much loss and stress? At the time, I thought I was doing what was healthy, what was best for me. In retrospect, however, I can barely even remember what May was like. And while I kept it all up for about a month, it didn’t take long for it all to start unravelling.

After only a few short weeks of following my schedule and staying “perfectly” on top of my life, I had event after event come along and disrupt my newfound routine. Which is life, of course — things happen. It only took a couple little bumps to have my plan fall apart completely. By July, I began this perpetual game of catch-up that lasted months. I was late to post almost every single blog post I shared for two months straight, and every time a post was shared behind schedule, I felt as though I had failed. I had no motivation to keep writing, but I felt I had to — and forced myself to keep going. I couldn’t hold focus for more than a few minutes and I honestly didn’t feel I had anything to share at the time, but it didn’t matter. I had set goals for myself that I felt I had to achieve by year’s end, and I wanted to keep up the appearance everything was fine. I think I felt at the time everything WAS mostly fine — but now I realize it really, really wasn’t.

By September, it all fell apart. After months of holding myself together with nothing but guilt and the belief that I had to keep going, I was too burnt out to continue. I only had energy to coast through life until December came around. However, after a real, proper break — a month at home where I essentially expected nothing of myself, nor did my family — I’m finally starting to feel a little better. I’m trying to get my life back on track — but it’s for myself this time. I’m taking it slowly, and adding things back in with time instead of rushing myself back into a full schedule. Do I still struggle with having heightened or unrealistic expectations for myself? Yeah, of course. However, I’m trying to identify these expectations and why I feel the need to set them for myself nowadays to help myself determine what’s a healthy goal that pushes me forward, keeps me motivated and makes me happy; rather than something I’m aiming for that’s detrimental to my mental health and well-being.

Of course, my example is a little different, and fairly extreme. Who knows why I reacted the way I did to everything last year — it was a difficult year for me, and perhaps it was just the only way I knew to react to such an unfamiliar situation. I’m not here to psychoanalyze myself — although I guess I may be trying to analyze society as a whole. What I’m really trying to say here is — you don’t need to do it all. Choose what you WANT for yourself, and focus on that. You don’t need to work out every morning to have your life together. You don’t need to work through the weekend to be successful. You don’t need to always be busy to be happy.

And not just that — not everything has to be for the sake of being productive, too! Perhaps it’s just some capitalistic belief that the things we do aren’t valuable if they aren’t somehow profitable. But that isn’t true! When was the last time you had a hobby just for the sake of having a hobby? Something that you, perhaps, aren’t even good at? Why do you have to be good at it, after all, if it brings you joy? Balance is key — and while I’ve definitely said it before, you need to balance giving yourself a break, too. But not just cute blogger self-care nights — sometimes you just need a night to do nothing and a nap. Not everything in life has to be picture-perfect — contrary to what I or other bloggers have made you believe.

As lifestyle bloggers, we get sucked into following a bit of a formula — a particular aesthetic, a particular lifestyle, and particular interests. Following April, almost every single post of mine had to do with productivity, routine, schedule, or lockdowns. I didn’t even know what else to write about, as I had pretty severe writers block from all the issues I was facing. So I just kept forcing myself to be productive, and wrote about being productive — as if I were someone who had it all together when really, I had no idea what was going on. But we don’t need to adhere to an aesthetic. Life is more than that! Of course, if your blog is your business, you want to build a specific brand. But just because you’re starting out, doesn’t mean you need to fall into the trap of narrowing yourself down into the very particular lifestyle blogger aesthetic. While the minimalistic, cute, and elegant themes are absolutely gorgeous, there’s no need to wedge yourself into them if it isn’t what fits you. If the typical blogger aesthetic is something you aspire to, or is one that comes to you naturally — go for it, obviously! It’s majorly cute and refined, and I personally adore it — even though it isn’t my personal vibe.

As for what my vibe IS exactly — I honestly don’t really know. I’m working on it. I want to be able to fit every part of me into it, without cutting parts away simply because they don’t match. I feel as though I’m a very different person that I’ve perhaps lead you all to believe — either directly or indirectly. It’s not intentional — after all, I do love makeup, skincare, online shopping, subscription boxes and staying organized — but I also love art, and anime (Attack on Titan fans HMU), and BLACKPINK, and Animal Crossing, and I don’t think these things have to be mutually exclusive. But who know — it’s not like I have to figure it out on a deadline, after all!

When I started writing this post out, I had no idea where it was really going to go, honestly. I had a vague idea in my head, and an issue I wanted to discuss, and past that I just let it take me wherever it needed to go. Writing all this out was kind of therapeutic, in a way — really just sitting back and letting your writing take you wherever it will is a great way to discover things about yourself and your story. So I hope you’ve all learned something here today — because honestly, so did I. It may be difficult to let go — I don’t think it’s a change I’ll be able to make 100% overnight — but I’m hoping to put in the work and identify these beliefs and behaviours when they come up in my life, in order to challenge them and make some positive differences in both my life and other’s.

I guess to sum up what I have to say — it’s not like I’m going to stop trying. I’m not going to stop trying to better myself, to be successful, to look my best, to surround myself with happiness. I’m still going to strive forward towards these things. And whatever advice I learn along the way I’ll absolutely share with you all. But I’m done with preaching advice I don’t take myself, or acting like some know-it-all with a perfect life. I’m not. You’re not. None of us are. Life is messy and while it can be beautiful, it isn’t perfect. So this is my little pledge — to stop forcing myself to fit a standard and chastising myself when I don’t reach it. To take real breaks, and not just push myself further after falling behind. And to always be honest with all of you, and share honest advice, and not just what I think sounds good on paper.

Love you all, always,

Meredith

20 Lessons I Learned in 2020

Hey y’all!

We’ve finally made it! This post is officially my last of 2020. It’s certainly been one hell of a year. It’s been emotional, scary, stressful, and even boring –but to be fair, there is more to be learned from the hard times than there is from the good.

It’s kind of hard reflecting back on this year — it was a really rough one for me, personally. I lost a couple of people who were very important to me, graduated at a time that the job market is at it’s worst, and put up with many difficult situations at my job, with my roommates, and friends whom I had to let go of and leave in the past. That being said, it wasn’t all bad — I graduated university, got to go to Mexico back in February before COVID lockdowns, made some new friends, rediscovered some old hobbies and got some much-needed time off.

And at the end of of the day, this year may have had some ups and (plenty of) downs, I did learn some important lessons that I’d like to share. My hope is that, at the very least I can save someone out therefrom learning these lessons the hard way by sharing them with you now

  1. Take time to appreciate what you have.
  2. Tell your friends and family how much you love them, honestly and often.
  3. Nothing is certain. Planning is important — but you can’t anticipate everything.
  4. Practice compassion. Everyone has something difficult happening in their lives — big or small. Be kind.
  5. It’s okay to take breaks. Burn out is real, and just because you don’t feel like you’ve worked hard enough to earn it doesn’t mean you don’t need it.
  6. Set goals — but don’t get too down on yourself if they don’t work out. It’s important to keep moving forwards. If you miss the mark on a goal, set some new ones!
  7. Take time to discover what it is that makes you happy.
  8. Stop comparing yourself to others. Nothing you see on social media is real — so don’t get down on yourself because your life doesn’t look like other’s Instagram posts. Odds are, their lives don’t either.
  9. Prioritize your mental health.
  10. Try not to worry about what others expect of you. It’s tough to break expectations at first, but you’ll be happier for it in the long run.
  11. Sometimes it isn’t about you. This applies to so many things — from taking a step back when someone’s in a rough place and needs your support, to following COVID lockdown protocols.
  12. Actions speak louder than words. Telling others how much you care about them is important, but you need to show it, too.
  13. Self-improvement comes from the little things. Working out regularly. Eating healthy. Staying organized. Being productive. Taking breaks and practicing self-care. It all adds up.
  14. Spend time on your hobbies. It’s hard sometimes — there are only so many hours in a day. But try to take time to rediscover things you love — such as writing, reading, drawing, or music — whatever makes your heart happy.
  15. Nothing is forever. Appreciate the things and people you have in life while you can. But alternatively — a bad situation is only temporary.
  16. Be kind to others.
  17. A positive mindset influences everything. Going into a situation with a positive mindset will alter the experience as a whole, as well as the results.
  18. It’s okay to say no. Standing up for yourself can be hard, but boundaries are important.
  19. Don’t worry about what others think of you. There’s always going to be someone who may judge or try to tear you down. Do what you love, regardless.
  20. Always remember to love yourself first. Growth is always uncomfortable. It’s okay — be patient with yourself. You’re getting there. And you’re doing better than you think you are.

Happy New Years, everyone, and here’s to better vibes in 2021! It’s been a tough year but we’ve made it through. Let’s not forget to bring all the lessons we learned this year into the new year, to help improve ourselves, our communities and our world.

Personally, my goals for the new year are to keep my expectations small. I’m setting a couple big goals for the year at large, but I think this next year I’m going to try taking it month by month so I can manage my goals and expectations a little better. (Besides, I’d rather be pleasantly surprised by completely smashing my goals rather than feeling a little down if I don’t manage to achieve them).

Sending you all so much love — I hope that all of you have a better year ahead of you in 2021 than you had in 2020. I’m curious — are you guys still setting goals for the next year? If so, how have they changed from the goals you set for 2020? If you feel like sharing, drop a comment below — I’d love to hear how 2020 has changed your perspective!

Here’s to better days!

Xo,

Meredith

How To: Have a Productive Self-Care Day!

Hey y’all!

As usual, I hope everyone’s been feeling their best and being productive lately, but if not — then this is the post for you! Even though things have been returning to semi-normal lately with COVID-19 (at least, they are here in Vancouver), I’ve personally been finding myself feeling stuck and super unmotivated. This whole year has been strange, and while I did kind of appreciate having the months of free time to relax after the crazy year I’ve had, suddenly, tasks have been piling up and I’ve been feeling stressed all over again. And frankly, I know I’m not alone in feeling like this.

As weird as it was transitioning to lockdowns, it’s been even weirder transitioning back. At this point, sitting around the house feels normal, and going out and being busy feels weird. However, not transitioning back quickly makes me feel as though I’m falling behind — even though there’s only so much I can do right now, if I don’t spend all my time getting things done, it feels as though I’m failing somehow.

If you’ve been feeling the same, its okay — it’s hard to accept, but with how weird the world is right now it’s okay to be feeling lost or unmotivated (which is something I’m trying to be okay with myself). However, you do have to do your best to push through it and get back on track. It’s hard to find balance between not being too hard on yourself and not letting your life fall apart, but I think I’ve found a little solution I’d like to share with you all that helped me feel a little better.

I’ve posted many, many times before about the importance of self-care, but I’m also aware of how challenging it can feel to put time aside when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes, when your anxiety is getting the better of you, it can feel downright impossible to take any time off for yourself at all — but it really is vital to your health and well-being. However, I’ve made a plan for those of you who aren’t feeling up to taking a full break — and you get to take a whole day off for self-care while still getting stuff done!

If this sounds like the kind of think you’ve been needing, then plan out a day this weekend (or whenever you have a day off) to dedicate the whole day to this productive self-care plan — and try not to schedule anything else and overwhelm yourself. Of course, you can totally alter the plan to fit your needs best, but don’t push yourself — the whole point is to take it a little easy!

Step One: Sleep In A Little!

First things first — it’s important to get some rest. Whenever it is that you usually wake up, try setting your alarm half an hour to an hour later. You want to ensure you wake up feeling well rested, so you don’t want to forgo the alarm completely — I personally always feel like when I just let myself wake up naturally I always feel groggy and out of it the rest of the day. How you decide to do this is really up to you, but I generally just like to set my alarm about an hour later than I would get up usually — so I get to sleep in without getting carried away.

Step Two: Make a Healthy, Special Breakfast

My favourite way to start out my days off is by making a nice breakfast from scratch. I try to go for something healthy, but tasty — not something I’m just eating for the sake of eating healthy. My normal everyday breakfast, while still delicious (I eat yoghurt, fruit, almonds and granola literally every day), can become a little boring if I don’t switch it up every so often. On special days, I like to go for avo toast with poached eggs and veggies, but this one is really up to you! Take time to treat yourself and make your fave breakfast from scratch.

Step Three: Yoga/Stretch/Meditate

Okay, so this is something I do everyday — but if you don’t, give it a try. If you’re not down for a whole yoga session, just take some time to stretch out a little and try to tune in with your body. As for at-home yoga practices, Yoga With Adriene is always my go-to! From there, I’d recommend following up with a guided meditation — which can be anywhere from a few short minutes to much longer, depending on how you’re feeling and how familiar you are with meditating. I usually go for about 15-20 minutes personally, but depending on whatever you’re down for you can find any number of guided meditations through apps or (my personal go-to) on YouTube!

Step Four: Clean and Organize!

Next up, you’re going to want to dedicate some time towards deep cleaning and/or organizing. The key to having this still be self-care is not pushing yourself to complete it all in one day, but rather to simply get a little bit done so you can feel a little better about your space by the end of the day. Depending on what the state of your space is, I’d recommend getting little handiwork tasks done, Marie-Kondoing all the things that no longer serve you out of your life, or just a good old-fashioned deep clean. Don’t rush it, and try to make it as enjoyable as possible! Put on some music, either a pump-up playlist if you need an energy boost or some meditation music if you need to relax, and do whatever it is that’ll make you feel a little more at ease in your home.

Step Five: Work on Your Hobbies/Passion Projects

After you’ve finished up with cleaning, take some time to either dedicate towards your hobbies or passion projects. For instance, this is the time that I’d personally dedicate towards my blog, so I can get ahead on my posts. However, if you don’t really have a passion project or anything to catch up on, spend a little time on your hobbies! Another thing I would consider dedicating this time to is sketching. Just make sure its something enjoyable, relaxing, and involves active participation!

Step Six: Take Out Dinner

Treat yourself and order some Take Out or Delivery — why not? Take a night off from making dinner and just go for whatever your heart desires. And I’m not just talking ordering whatever it is you always get when you don’t have the time or energy to cook — get something you’ve really been craving and go all out!

Step Seven: Netflix & Chill

These next two steps are really sort of interchangeable, depending on what you enjoy and what you’re feeling by the end of the day. However, after a day full of relaxing-yet-productive activities, it’s also good to take some time to unwind completely. If you’re into it, take a few hours to binge some Netflix — either put on that movie you’ve been meaning to watch forever, or catch up on that TV show you’ve been watching — whatever you’re feeling!

Step Eight: Regular Self-Care

Finally, either during, after, or in lieu of Netflix, take some time to do some good old-fashioned self-care. This step is really the most up to you — maybe you want to light a candle and do a face mask, maybe you want to participate in a nighttime meditation, maybe you’re really in the mood for a long warm bath, or maybe you’re down for something else entirely. Your choice! Just take a little time to pamper yourself and try to let go of any residual stress you’re still holding on to before the day is up.

Hopefully, after taking this day off to yourself, you’ll be rested, relaxed, and ready to take on all the tasks you’ve been needing to complete. Personally, since doing this for myself I’ve been feeling a little more motivated — it’s weird, but I feel like the stress of this year (even though we’ve all been stuck at home) has left me burnt out, and it helps to take time off intentionally to get back on track.

Happy Sunday, everyone, and hopefully you’ve all got a nice, manageable week ahead! It’s finally starting to feel like summer here in Vancouver, which is both a blessing and a curse — summer is my favourite season, but also I don’t have air conditioning in my apartment (so you can see my dilemma here). Anyways, I hope you’re all doing your best to make the most of this summer, regardless of the circumstances! Get a little fresh air and sunshine, since we’ll all be back to fall before we know it.

Much love,

Meredith

May Self-Care Ideas!

Hey everyone!

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.

Meditating 

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!

Morning Workouts

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.

Positive Affirmations

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.

Eating Healthy 

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.

Going Outside

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.

Staying Organized

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!

Xo,

Meredith

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