We encounter enormous amount of stress in everyday modern life: Work, studies, health, wealth, family, relationships, scheduling, holidays.. The list goes on and on. Sometimes even pleasant events can cause our mind and heart to race, not to forget the unpleasant ones. In today's post I'll share how to ease stress by taking some (well-needed) me-time while pampering your mind and skin. As we all behave differently, cherry pick whatever works for you.
My relationship with self-care
When I was first introduced to the idea of 'self-care' I was hesitant. Do I deserve this? Why would I want to give myself something good when I don't deserve it – at least not before I've ticked all the boxes in my endless to-do list. In my early twenties I hated to be present with myself. As I've grown older I've learned that I'm not a machine, I can't endlessly perform without taking care of myself first. Also, I've learned the hard way the fact that eating, sleeping or good things in general are not about 'deserving'. You don't deserve those things, you need them to function.
Honestly, I'm not very good when it comes to dealing with stress. Being an artist I constantly want to push myself further, improve myself, be more creative and efficient. Sadly, inspiration isn't something you can force yourself to have, which gives me enormous anxiety and stress from time to time. There's always nagging voices in my head: accomplish more, do it better, be more creative. If something you love becomes a distressing task it's time to step back, take a breather and focus on something else until you can try again later. Easier said than done. As looking after yourself is not a one-time deal, I now include a little bit of self-care to everyday or when possible.
Why self-care is important
I bet you've heard this one before: when boarding an airplane, the in-flight security information tells to put the oxygen mask on yourself first and then help the others? Yep. Taking care of yourself is not about being a selfish bitch, but an essential in order to help others, and - survive. Remind yourself about this example if/when you're having doubts if you "deserve" taking care of yourself, you're a workaholic or if you have the habit of always putting others before yourself (I'm looking at you, parents). Secondly, accept the idea that self-care has nothing to do with being vain or selfish, but to achieve balance and being content your skin, your life.
What is self-care?
From my perspective, self-care are tiny habits you can include in everyday to soothe the amount of stress and help you be in you be balanced: mentally, emotionally and physically. These habits can fit into a short amount of time, with little or no cost - but sometimes a good pamper evening or a bit of splurge on yourself is good too. Here are my tips for mental and emotional well-being:
- Make your self-care routine a ritual, a conscious moment.
- Give yourself a tiny compliment. Preferably in a front of a mirror. If complimenting yourself feels difficult, try to say something accepting. Let's say you dislike your legs and they bother you, think to yourself: these legs are good enough, they can carry and walk me around. Avoid negative phrasing such as "I don't hate my legs" because our brains tend to ignore the word "don't".
- Have a method to stop your mind racing (especially with negative thoughts). For some people it's breathing and meditating, there are bracelets and apps to help if you prefer some kind of guidance (I like Headspace app, but I'm not sure if meditating is for me). To others it might be singing while blasting your favorite feel-good, kickass music and dancing like nobody's watching. Walking, stretching or other physical activity is great as well because it can momentarily give physical space to things you're dealing with. I also like writing a journal to get the thoughts out of my system.
- A physical activity or a hobby that you don't despise. Trust me on this. If you like all kinds of activities, you're in luck because exercise is a great help for mental well-being! Even if you hate sports, there can be something you find mildly durable. Try a new activity, exercise with a friend or make yourself to go a class. If you can't stand running, don't talk yourself down and force yourself to go - try something else! I was always the nerdy type who only exercised to burn calories, but it all changed when I found bouldering. Even after a quick session I feel awesome!
- Introduce ritualistic me-time to your day and give it an extra 15 minutes. It can be doing your skincare routine, watching your favorite show in the evening, playing a video game while commuting or cooking from scratch. Whatever you like, just give it some extra time you can enjoy it with all of your senses. For me it's my morning routine: I wake extra early so I can shower, have coffee and breakfast, do my skincare and makeup in peace while watching Youtube videos or whatever. I also love being creative. If I don't have time to blog, photograph or paint I use the 15 minutes to write my journal, plan my to-do lists or read my notes. It's only 15 minutes, most people can squeeze that into their schedule (by looking less at your phone, for example).
Pamper routine for self-care morning or evening
Now if this routine feels and sounds like a cliché to you then don't do it. Or tweak it, make it your own - this time it's all about you! If you love music, turn it on. My inner introvert enjoys silence before and after a long day, so personally I do my skincare without it. I save audiobooks and podcasts when I need to focus on creative work. I lit a candle, preferably a slightly scented one (and no, it doesn't need to be Diptyque to be enjoyable). I put my hair up with a comfortable hair band.
Second, I pour myself a drink of choice. I can miraculously drink coffee in the evenings without ruining my sleep rhythm, but sometimes tea, matcha latte or even a glass of wine will do. I'm one of those annoying people who put on a sheet mask and drink prosecco with a straw - I would do it in a bubble bath if I had one! Haha. Enjoy whatever you choose, but be mindful when you prepare yourself the tea (relax) and use your finest cup or glass. Invest in the moment, quit all "Well, it's if just me so I don't need X" sort of thinking. You do.
Thirdly, cleansing. Think you're not only cleansing your skin, but all the stress, chores, etc. from the day. Give yourself a moment, massage the cleanser into your skin with slow motions. After 1st cleanse I recommend using a luscious balm, such as the de Mamiel cleansing balm, which pampers both your senses and your skin. Whatever you choose to use, remove it gently with a warm damp cloth. Taking the time to remove something with a hot cloth makes the moment extra special in my opinion. You can also pop into a hot shower or take a bath if that's what you prefer. While you cleanse, try remaining serene, let all your stress just go.
Finally I choose a face mask. Sometimes I do one or two depending on what my skin feels like - try to listen yourself: is my skin feeling rough? Dry? Dehydrated? Oily? Spotty? All of them above? Then your answer to the problem is partial masking, but if you're unsure which to choose then go for hydration. Even oily skins benefit from hydration, so giving your skin (and yourself) a big drink is always needed. I use a wash-off mask after removing my makeup and finish of with a hydrating sheet mask (here is what I've tested recently). I massage all excess essence on my chest, arms, whatever. I sip my drink, read, watch Youtube, type something on my laptop while masking.
To finish the routine I apply my skincare, do a mini facial massage with my facial oil and apply a balm on the top.
To avoid making this post two-miles-long I give you more pamper suggestions:
- Bubble bath or a warm shower with bubbles
- Proper exfoliating and moisturizing body routine afterwards (try mixing body oil and body lotion!)
- Burning candles, incense or enjoying a room spray
- Silencing all the social media and enjoying a book or a movie
- Calling to a good friend and chatting
- Facial massage with facial oil or cleansing oil
- Gua sha massage or jade roller
- Stretching or yoga routine (there's plenty of instructions on Youtube)
- Wash-off mask or a sheet mask (or both!)
- Doing your nails
- Rubbing ointments or balms to the 'neglected' body areas: knees, cuticles etc.
- Apply a hair mask or conditioner and keep it for a while
- Enjoy sauna, regular or infra-red
What are your thoughts on this post/subject? What's your perfect me-time moment?