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

My April Bullet Journal!

Hello friends!

It’s the final few days of March, and April is finally just around the corner. The weather is warming up, the trees are blooming, the days are getting longer — and my life is getting busier. As Vancouver starts to, slowly, open back up, it’s beginning to seem like life may, actually, return to normal at some point — which is something that I’m, frankly, rather unprepared for. I’m so used to lockdown life at this point that I honestly can’t even imagine what “normal” life was like anymore — or how I’m going to return to it. It’ll be an adjustment, for sure, but as returning to a more regular life is on the inevitable horizon, I definitely think it’s worth trying to adjust slowly now, while I have the time, rather than forcing it all at once when I no longer have the option.

One way that I’m hoping to keep myself organized and on track is with my bullet journal. I’ve been having a bit of an on-again, off-again relationship with it since the start of 2021 — however, I can certainly say that I’m more on top of things when I keep up with using it regularly. I already keep an agenda for explicitly planning out what I’ll be doing each day, but my bullet journal goes above and beyond with keeping my life on track — especially since it can be tailored so specifically in any way I choose. While I use my agenda to schedule each of my days, my bullet journal helps me keep track of my mood, reminds me to stay on top of daily tasks such as working out and taking pills, plan my blog posts and keep all kinds of lists for all kinds of reasons.

This month, I’m expanding my journal even further and adding new segments, such as a page for brainstorming blog topic ideas — where I’ll write down every idea that comes to mind, whether I end up using it or not — and lists specifically for items I need to buy and what I need to do each week in terms of my job hunt. As well, I’m re-writing my daily schedule, with some slight changes, in hoping that writing it down will help me stick to it better. This way, by breaking down everything further, I’m hoping to make everything easier to track to ensure I’m staying on top of everything.

Mood Tracker

My mood tracker is one of my favourite parts of bullet journaling — not only does it help me to reflect on my day without expecting too much of myself (such as a full journal), but it allows me review how my mood has been cumulatively over time, so I am able to check in with myself and see trends that I may have otherwise missed. Rewriting the past is easy — we often dismiss things as being “not as bad as they seemed” or “better than they were”, but this way I can objectively reflect on how I’ve been doing, and not be swayed by how I’m currently feeling. I keep a list of nine colour-coded options for each days mood, ranging from “absolutely amazing” to “completely terrible”, as well as an option for days when I’m not exactly sure how I’m feeling, and days that are totally crazy where it kind of feels like a bomb has been dropped on your life (which, to be fair, I’ve only used once).

Habit Tracker

This is perhaps the most important aspect of my bullet journal — which I’m also going to be expanding on this month. Each night, as I fill out my tracker, I’m not only able to hold myself accountable for habits I wish to form (ie. exercising regularly), I’m able to cumulatively reflect on how often I’m being productive (ie. working on my blog) and remind myself to complete tasks before bed (such as taking my medications and vitamins). In the past, I only kept six trackers per each month, and sometimes I would switch it up depending on what was important to me that month. However, this time I’ll be tracking ten different habits to ensure I stay on top of everything that I need to.

April Daily Schedule

As I mentioned above, I’ll be reworking & rewriting my daily schedule at the start of this month to hopefully serve as a reminder to stick with it. I really don’t expect myself to follow it perfectly every day (or even any day), but rather I use it for a guideline to make sure I’m getting everything I need to done, sticking to habits I’m hoping to form and keeping a regular sleep and eating schedule.

April Goals

I keep a goal list, separate from my to-do list, to help inspire me to reach above and beyond each month. Rather than forcing myself to achieve all of these goals, they serve as a motivator to push myself to not just do what I have to, but go the extra bit further.

Blog Planner

This is where I keep track of what I’ll be posting on my blog each week. I’ve been trying to get ahead on my blog posts so I can have posts ready in advance and have at least a rough idea of what I’ll be posting each week — so when a post gets written down here, it’s all but final. I don’t write everything down too far in advance — you never know when random inspiration may strike — but for certain posts that I’m absolutely certain will be posted that on specific days, I keep track of them here so I know what’s done and what still needs doing.

Blog Brainstorm

This is something new I’m adding this month, that’ll allow me to keep track of rough ideas and deadlines without convoluting my official planner. This page is both for keeping track of all of my ideas — good and bad, since you never know what bad ideas may inspire your next good one — as well as a rough posting schedule for weeks that I haven’t set in stone yet. I’m hoping, by doing this, I’ll be able to feel more inspired, come up with more ideas (and actually remember them), as well as be able to utilize my planner in a more official way to keep track of finalized blog ideas.

To Do List

Each month, I keep a standard to-do list of everything I need to get done. I add to it as the month goes along, and when I have the opportunity to get something crossed off the list I transfer it over to my agenda to help me remember to complete it. This way, I have everything I need to get done written down in one place — rather than in random iPhone notes or on random paper lists — and as long as I write things down, I don’t have to worry about forgetting them (since I’m the queen of “I don’t need to write that down, I’ll remember it”. Spoiler alert: I never remember it. Figures.).

To Do List – Job Hunt and School Application Edition

Over the last month, I’ve been working with a career consultant (more on that later) to help me work out exactly what it is I want to do in life, and how to get there. Being a post-grad in a locked-down COVID world, I was having a lot of trouble finding any sort of job in my career path of choice, and honestly starting to question if it was really the right one for me. While I’m working with this consultant, I’m keeping a separate to-do list of things I need to get done specifically pertaining to job and school applications, even if they’re already in my agenda, just to ensure everything runs smoothly and nothing falls by the wayside).

Shopping List

As I mentioned above, I am absolutely the WORST about believing I’ll remember everything I need to get done in my head, not writing it down, and inevitably forgetting. In the past, I’ve written stuff down on all kinds of random lists with absolutely NO structure of any kind — which makes it easy to lose track of things. In the past, I’ve kind of mixed my “shopping list” in with my “to-do list”, but I feel it’ll be way more organized to keep them separate. This way, I can keep everything I need to go out and purchase in one place, and know exactly what it is I still need to buy.

TV Shows To Watch

Okay, so maybe TV shows I’m looking to binge isn’t the most important thing to keep track of, but whatever — I’m doing it anyways. Honestly, I already had a list (and multiple, in fact, in the past, that I re-wrote before completing) but I’m hoping that I’ll keep this list in order so I can go through and watch each show one-by-one until I make it to the end, before adding new shows to watch. (Shows that I keep up with week-to-week aren’t included, so this is purely a binge-watching list — hopefully keeping it more organized).

And that’s this month’s bullet journal! I’ve added a lot of changes this month, but I’m hoping they’ll have a positive impact and help me stay consistently motivated and organized for the upcoming month — especially since it’s going to be my busiest yet in 2021. Do you guys keep bullet journals of your own? What kinds of pages do you find work best for you? I’m always in search of new ideas and inspo, or ways to make my current pages more effective! Let me know in the comments what your bullet journal looks like, I’d love to hear it!

Happy Sunday, everyone, and happy last weekend of March! Spring is finally, officially here and the weather is only going to get better from here on out. Here’s to April, may it be a good month to all of us! 2021 may have started off a little rocky for some of us, but it’s never too late to turn it around. With a little effort and a little luck, hopefully April will be 2021’s best month yet.

Cheers,

Meredith

100 Prompts for When You’re Suffering Writers Block!

Hey y’all!

So — writers block. As bloggers, we’ve all been there. There’s absolutely nothing more frustrating than wanting to write, or trying to meet deadlines, but having absolutely no idea where to start. Since last year, when COVID hit, I started experiencing writers block WAY harder than I ever had in the past. Pre-2020, while I had rough weeks here and there, I was always able to find SOMETHING to share for each of my Sunday blog posts. However, as a lifestyle blogger, it got challenging to find inspirations when life came to a stop. Many of my posts felt straight up monotonous, and many weeks I felt as though I couldn’t come up with anything at all.

We can all agree that the frustration that writers block creates is just about the worst feeling ever. However, no matter what’s going on in your life in the moment, the reality is as a lifestyle blogger you always have a wealth of source material waiting to be tapped into. Life isn’t just what’s happening in the moment, after all — it can be past lessons learned, goals for the future, little things that make you happy or the hobbies and interests that make you who you are.

That’s why, this week, I decided to compile a list of 100 prompts for bloggers suffering writer’s block. I’ve chosen various topics, from fashion, to wellness, to budgeting or even blogging itself that pretty much covers at least one topic for every type of lifestyle blogger out there. No matter who you are and what your niche is — there’s a prompt in here that’s perfect for you. The prompts vary a little between them — some of them are more open-ended, some are meant to inspire your own fresh ideas for a post on a related topic, and some are meant to be a question that can be answered directly in a simple and concise way. However you interpret these prompts is really up to you — so I hope you enjoy reading through them and getting inspired for your future posts! Feel free to save this post for future reference, as well — so that even if you’re overflowing with ideas now, you’ll never have to worry about your creative well running dry ever again.

Media & Culture Prompts

  1. A list of the best TV shows for when you’re in a specific mood
  2. Music recommendations and playlists
  3. A list of movies that would make the best movie marathons
  4. Your take on the latest pop-culture drama
  5. TV shows/Movies/Music everyone should check out regardless of what genres they usually stick to

Fashion & Style Prompts

  1. Your favourite fashion trends for the upcoming season
  2. Your fave fashion staples that never go out of style
  3. Shoes and bags that work with any outfit
  4. Hair accessory trends for the upcoming season that you love
  5. Sharing your specific style and favourite clothing items & accessories

Skincare & Makeup Prompts

  1. What are your favourite brands and why?
  2. What is your skincare routine?
  3. What is your everyday makeup look?
  4. What secret tips do you have for completing your perfect makeup look?
  5. What’s some skincare advice you’d share with beginners?

Lifestyle and Advice Prompts

  1. How you’d plan out the perfect self care night
  2. Your favourite ways to take a break when you’re feeling overwhelmed
  3. Organization tips and tricks that helped you get your life/living space/time management under control
  4. Positive mantras and affirmations you use when you’re feeling down
  5. Activities and advice to help get out of a mental health funk

Blogging about Blogging Prompts

  1. What did you wish you knew when you started blogging?
  2. What are some of the best hidden resources for bloggers you know of?
  3. What did you do that made your blog take off?
  4. What are YOUR favourite posts to read as a blogger?
  5. How you started to monetize your blog and grow your reach

Social Media Advice Prompts

  1. Best locations in your city for Instagram posts
  2. Best poses for people who hate taking photos
  3. Best ways to utilize Instagram/Twitter/Pinterest for outreach
  4. Best apps for perfecting your Insta pics and feed
  5. How to best utilize Pinterest (seriously, someone please write this! I’ve been using Pinterest for over a year and I still don’t understand how it works)

School and Education Prompts

  1. Studying hacks that have helped you ace classes
  2. Your best advice for surviving high school/first year/university
  3. How to handle tough situations in high school/university
  4. How to take legible, organized notes
  5. Your morning routine to ensure you’re ready and organized for the day (+how you wind down at night!)

Work and Careers Prompts

  1. How did you decide what career to pursue?
  2. Advice for people joining the workforce right now
  3. Advice on how to be successful in your specific field
  4. Secrets about your field the general public doesn’t know
  5. How to perfect a resume (+anything else related to applying to jobs in your field!)

Friends and Social Situations Prompts

  1. How to meet new people (+ especially if you’re not meeting people from school, university or work!)
  2. How to deal with friendship drama
  3. How to identify toxic relationships
  4. What do you think makes someone a good friend?
  5. What are some little things your friends do for you and each other that help you feel loved?

Love and Relationships Prompts

  1. What was something you wish you knew before your first relationship?
  2. What advice would you give your 16 year old self when it comes to love?
  3. What are the best ways to prep for a first date?
  4. What are some great date ideas for long-term couples looking to try something new?
  5. How did you know when your partner was “the one”? (+do you believe in soulmates?)

Making It Through Bad Situations Prompts

  1. What’s something you’ve been through in your life that was particularly challenging? What advice would you have for others facing similar situations?
  2. What is something you knew about life when you were 16 that you learned the hard way?
  3. What is some life advice you have for others based on what you’ve experienced in life?
  4. What was a mistake you made in life that you learned from?
  5. How has the last year of your life changed who you are or how you view the world?

Self-Reflection Prompts

  1. What are some life lessons you learned that you’d like to share?
  2. What was a toxic trait you had that you reflected on and changed?
  3. How did you learn to break a bad habit?
  4. How did you become your authentic self (both in person and through your online persona?)
  5. How have you actively worked to improve yourself? What worked and what didn’t?

Cooking, Baking, and Drinks Prompts

  1. What’s your favourite recipe?
  2. How do you make the perfect menu (charcuterie, appies, drinks food or dessert).for hosting dinner parties?
  3. What are the best recipes you’ve learned since lockdowns?
  4. What are some great recipes for those with limited time/beginners/people on a budget?
  5. What are some go-to recipes that never fail you?

Travelling & The World Prompts

  1. What is your current travel Wishlist?
  2. What are your favourite places you’ve ever been to?
  3. Where are the best places for tourists to visit in your city?
  4. Think of a location you travelled to in the past. Where would you recommend someone visiting there go?
  5. Where are the best ways you’ve learned to travel on a budget?

Home & Decor Prompts

  1. How did you decide how to decorate your first apartment?
  2. How do you find your perfect design aesthetic?
  3. Where should you start when decorating on a budget?
  4. What are some cheap/easy decor additions to make your living space more homey?
  5. Share your apartment decor + specific niche style!

Budgeting Prompts

  1. What are tips they don’t teach you in school about saving money?
  2. How did you learn to manage your savings and control your spending?
  3. If you coupon — what are your best tips and tricks for finding the best deals?
  4. What is your best advice for avoiding unnecessary purchases/compulsive shopping?
  5. What are they best ways to stay stylish on a budget?

Adulting Prompts

  1. What is something you wish you knew before entering the “real world”?
  2. What advice would you give your 16-year-old self about practical, real-life adulting skills?
  3. What are some secrets about being an adult that no one tells you (or admits to — even when you’re all adults!)
  4. What are some of the best hacks you’ve discovered for handling adult life?
  5. What is the best advice you can offer for those in their early adulthood?

Lockdown 2020/2021 Prompts

  1. How has your life changed over the last year?
  2. What are your favourite COVID-safe/at home ways to keep in touch with loved ones?
  3. What are the best new hobbies for those who are looking to try something new?
  4. What new skills and hobbies have you tried over the last year? Which ones did you like best?
  5. What tips do you have for maintaining good mental health during bad times?

Organizational Prompts

  1. What are your favourite hacks to keep your living space organized?
  2. What products changed your life in terms of staying organized?
  3. How do you go about keeping your personal space clean, even when you’re at your busiest?
  4. How do you organize your planner and schedule your daily life?
  5. What routines do you maintain that help you stay on top of everything?

Health and Wellness Prompts

  1. What are your favourite quick and easy healthy recipes?
  2. What are some great exercise routines for beginners?
  3. How did you get started on your fitness journey? What did you wish you knew before you started?
  4. What are some realistic ways to stay active and motivated day to day?
  5. What are your favourite tools (ie. meditating, exercise, sleep) for mitigating stress and maintaining your health?

As always — happy Sunday, everyone! I hope you’ve all been doing well and staying safe. We’re really closing in on one year since COVID lockdowns hit now, which is absolutely insane to think about. This time last year, I was away on Mexico on vacation, life was good and I had absolutely NO idea what was about to hit me in the weeks to come. It’s been a long year, but I’m finally feeling like I’m going to make it out in one piece. How are you all feeling about the one-year anniversary of lockdowns coming up? Drop a comment below and let me know — it’s going to be an interesting and difficult time reflecting on it all, certainly. At the very least, with any luck, we’re nearing the end of the pandemic — so at least we’ll have something to celebrate sometime soon. I, personally, truly believed that lockdowns were going to last two, maybe three weeks at most — and look at us now! If I could go back a year and tell myself what was coming, there’s no way I’d ever believe it.

Much love,

Meredith

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