These last few weeks have been a bit odd. Somehow, between washing the dishes and doing the laundry, I pushed away the grieving process for my father instead of welcoming it. Somewhere, between running errands and being a mother, I lost my creativity. I've been looking for inspiration since.
Two days ago, I stopped in my tracks and asked myself "Hey Eva, honestly now, how are you really doing?". And the answer surprised me. I told myself I was feeling stressed, despite the fact, that nothing had changed in my daily workload. I told myself, that I'm feeling tired, because I have not been sleeping well. I feel, like I need more time, is what I said to myself. More time in the day for all the things I want to do and then some, for myself.
So, I decided it is time for some serious "self care". Granted, the term has been thrown around a lot lately. Nevertheless, it is so important. Wikipedia says it is "the maintenance of one's personal well-being and health. A person's assessment of his/her own value and dignity". To me, self care is "be gentle with yourself now, Eva". It is not an act of egotism, or narcissism, but rather a survival skill. In a very fast world, with a lot of noise and bustle, it has never been more important, to find some calm.
Self-care is different for each and everyone. But for me, these things always help to improve my general well-being:
Starting my day with a cup hot water, instead of coffee. Sometimes, if I'm feeling risky, I even add some lemon.
Taking the time to diffuse essential oils. They make my house smell nice and impact my mood. My grounding favorite for happier days is lemon and cedar wood in equal parts.
Finding myself on the mat. Even a 20 minute yoga routine loosens my muscles and stills my mind.
Eating the rainbow. Nourishing my body with healthy, organic foods is something, that is important to me all the time. However, if I feel my energy level draining and my body is yearning for chocolate and ice cream, I know it is time to add the greens and fuel up on that plant power.
Being within myself, in nature. Nothing like a walk in the forrest, or even just sitting on a blanket in the park to rejuvenate my soul. Smilla has a lot of energy right now, which ultimately drains my own. Taking our play outside is good for the both of us.
Saying no, to things I don't actually feel like doing. As I'm approaching thirty, I don't see any harm in calling off a social event simply for the fact, that it is not well with my soul. However, a lot of times, I let the feeling of obligation stop me from being true to myself.
Surrounding myself with people that make me happy. Just yesterday, I had a friend over for a simple breakfast and was amazed at how much this added value to my day, instead of taking away from my "to do"-list, as I had feared.
Bathing. I love a nice, hot bath. It's an hour to myself and my thoughts. However, I will have to get better about leaving my phone outside the bath and fully focus in on me.
Speaking of which - unplugging. I think, I generally need to be less available in order to keep my sanity. I try not to use my phone too often around Smilla, but it is hard. Particularly, as my blogging and photography business are both practically managed via my phone. Maybe implementing "phone times" will make a difference. After a while of not using the phone, or having no service for a straight week on vacation, I feel much more relaxed. If I go to a clothing store at 11pm I will hardly get angry if the doors won't open - I expect it to be closed. And just like that, I need to resist answering business e-mails and Facebook messages at 11pm.
Drinking a glass of wine, going through magazines. I'm not talking about getting drunk of my buttocks here, but rather savoring a good glass of wine (which I love!), and taking the time to read words, that have actually been printed on paper.
Practicing a good sleep hygiene. My most helpful sleep tool is dimming all the lights. Bright lights and loud white noise make me feel uneasy, increasingly so every year. So turning off major light sources and lighting candles, or softer light bulbs helps me destress. Also, it is amazing how relaxed I feel, if instead of watching TV, me and my husband just go to bed and cuddle and talk about our day, or quietly read next to each other. Surprisingly though, this has proven to be hard to implement. Netflix keeps pulling us in and we spend whole evenings catching up documentaries, only to then carry the burdens of the world into bed with us.
Clearly, I am aware of the things, that improve my happiness. Small, simple things to implement. Yet, it takes a conscious effort to include these into my daily life.
When I felt specifically uninspired a few days ago, I reached out to someone I know who would understand. Siobhan Watts, is a blogger, photographer, knitter, mama and friend from the UK, whom I met through Instagram. In the past few months she has become a daily source of inspiration and our conversations via snap chat, or Skype have been very up-lifting. Siobhan, I said, I am truly in a creative rut. Her answer was simple and powerful: it's ok to just let go, take a step back and try other things. Inspiration will return eventually.
We decided to promote kindness. As we are trying to be kinder to ourselves, we encourage you to do the same.
So, we founded the hashtag "#MYMONTHOFSELFCARE" on Instagram and invite you to participate on our journey to self-love and happiness. Tag your daily inspirations, your moments of "me-time", your sources of joy and your tools that get you through. Share this with others, as well and let's see if we can create a little movement.