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

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