I am very cautious in setting my yearly goals, I have always been. I like to set targets I know I can achieve. For such reason, I don’t recall ever making resolutions about losing weight. I knew they were not realistic for me. I generally don’t care about beauty, weight, or my physical shape, so I never felt I could commit to work for any of these.
That was before children. Hitting my thirties didn’t help either. I have two children: a daughter through birth and a son through adoption. The former destroyed my body, the latter my mind. I admire the teamwork.
Last year taught me a hard lesson about the importance of self-care. I have never been good at managing my stress levels and taking care of my well-being. So I’ve started this year with a completely different attitude. This year I will live by the concept of self-care. I will learn more about myself, my body, and my stressors. I will say no when I feel it’s too much.
Few months in, after rewards and failures, I feel ready to share my successful self-care routines with you all. I am not as regular as I wish with these, but I discovered they helped. They may not help you, but I hope that if you feel in a dark place, they will encourage you to find your own.
I have tried several techniques in my life and nothing ever worked, until I tried mindful meditation exercises. My husband and I use an app called Meditation Studio which offers vocal guidance to short and long exercises. You can indulge in 40 minute exercises or, like we often do, 10-15 minute ones. I find that especially after putting the kids to bed, it gives me an incredible sense of relax and more space of mind. I like some exercises more than others, and the most effective allowed me to relax my back muscles so much that they even drove a couple of tension-related headaches away.
#2 Beauty routine
You will laugh at my beauty routine. I cannot put makeup on (nor I want to) and I do not believe in miracle creams. I have simply found a couple of easy and brief routines that give me joy and relax. I like to put on a face mask here and there, I especially like the 7th Heaven masks and the Moisture bomb by Garnier. To be frank, I don’t notice much difference before and after, but I like to smell them, take time off to relax, and they feel nice. I like to try face creams and try to stick to a regular face-cleansing routine.
#3 Losing weight
I am about 15 kilos over my ideal weight, even considering I had a baby. Losing weight is my eternal struggle since I have no self-discipline when it comes to food. I don’t eat trash food, but I indulge in any temptation good cuisine presents me with. In the past four months I had ups and downs. I managed to go down systematically, then a trip to Italy trashed all efforts. Now I’m down again… I do not think it’s realistic to have goals for me at this point in life, but I have clear in my mind that the extra kilos make me feel uncomfortable and I hope that some decent diet will bring me a more balanced and healthier lifestyle. I am willing to diet as long as it doesn’t become a stressor.
I am very picky when it comes to exercising. I have found few physical activities I truly enjoy: walking, cycling, swimming, and dancing. I am rotating these and trying to keep myself on the move. I have great periods and slower ones, but I am committed to have regular enjoyable exercise in my life. I have started the year following the training by the Nike app (which I recommend) but it became more pain than gain for me and I gave up. Like dieting, this is a delicate goal for me and I need to find my own sweet spot.
#5 Evening self-reflection
I am very vulnerable to guilt, I tend to dismiss successes and emphasise my lacks. If something I am not proud of happens, it can ruin my day. I have come to realise this is a very foolish way to manage my life and my happiness. When I feel more vulnerable to this negativity cycle, I try to collect myself every evening and list all my failures and my successes. Surprise, surprise, the latter always exceed the former. I need to take few minutes to prove it to myself and I feel better afterwards.
#6 Kitchen cleaning routine
When times get tougher, husband and I try to ignore our cleaning duties after dinner. Once a frying pan is left in the sink to be washed the day after or no one wants to clean the stove. I have realised making the effort of leaving the kitchen clean gives me a small sense of achievement and allows me not to start with discouragement the following day. There’s something that brings you a bit down when you start the new day in a dirty kitchen. It makes me feel like tasks are piling up and I cannot keep up, and boom – anxiety gets fed. I established a personal rule of washing all dirty dishes and tidying up the kitchen before bedtime daily.
#7 Me time
Sounds simple, but for me “me time” is a trip of self-discovery. I am trying to take some time off from my work and family duties and do something I truly enjoy, with no guilt and no disturbance. Am I the only one who finds it difficult? I am making progress, but sometime I feel I have forgotten how it feels to do things for yourself and believing you deserve it. I tend to think of me time as “time I’m stealing from my children / husband / work /…”. I want to learn to allow myself to relax and fully enjoy it.
#8 Asking for help
I am quite good at this. Even though I may feel guilty “bothering” other people, I have a rational inner voice that repeats “you’d do the same for them”. And I have done so in the past. I consider myself a giving person and I am usually very active helping friends and family. There is no shame in asking them for an extra hand here and there. Sometime I am very specific in my requests (“please take my kids for an afternoon”), sometime I may just wave and ask for a lifesaver. It’s okay not to cope sometime. We have to be kind to ourselves and remember it.
This is my personal “self-care package” and it has been helping me a lot. What’s yours? Will you try some of my suggestions? Let me know in the comment section.