Investing in Myself: Is Self Care a Lost Art?

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

The irony is not lost on me, writing this post about self care (including a note about reclaiming your sleep schedule) midweek at 12:30 in the morning. But that's perhaps why I feel the need to put this out into the universe: I need to invest in myself. Self care is such a buzzword lately, and I'm completely on board for it, but so much of what's touted as care is actually self-soothing and self-indulgence. There's a time and place for both of those things, of course, but they shouldn't be mistaken for actually taking proper care of yourself.

At the beginning of this stay at home debacle, I did need some of those self-indulgent habits. I think we all did. But seeing as how I've decided to be a full-time homemaker now and this way of life is my 'normal' for the foreseeable future, it's really time to take better care of myself in my daily habits. After all, personal homemaking is just as an important aspect of homemaking as the physical stuff. Like all kinds of investing, investing in yourself can take time and money and it isn't always the easiest or most fun option, but the one that pays off in the long-term. And I think that's why it's become such a lost art, muddled together with things like eating a pint of ice cream after a hard day. So today, I am getting back into the swing of taking actual care of myself. Here are a few of my ways:

Reclaiming a Normal Sleep Schedule

Sleep affects so much - hair, skin, face and eye puffiness, energy, and mental health, to name a few. It's one of those things that's instantly visible because when you are/feel tired, you look it too. That's definitely been me lately and I am not enjoying the results of my lack of sleep. So my number one goal at the moment is to get back onto a normal sleep schedule and waking up at an earlier hour every day.

There's nothing wrong with being a night owl. People are productive at different times of the day, so I wouldn't just force myself into a 5 a.m. wake-up time for no reason. But I happen to know that I'm more productive in the morning. Only if I get a decent night's sleep, of course, which has been seriously lacking for me in the past couple of weeks. I just cannot sleep, and then I overload on coffee to keep me up which only adds to the can't sleep issue. Vicious cycle. I've been trying to limit myself to one coffee a day all month, but so far I have been successful at that exactly zero days, so that's being put on hold until I can get better sleep.

I know I need to cut the screen time for that to happen. I've been looking at my phone too close to bed time, which is a terrible habit because the light only keeps you awake. I'll be happy when the library opens up again and I can read books instead of e-books! But until that happens, I know I need to start putting my phone away at an earlier hour and find a different way to wind down before bed. Time to put my journal and planner to use, I imagine.

I'd also like to wake up around the same time each day, whether or not John is working. When he is, we're up at 5:30. If he's at the firehouse still or home for the day, we'll sleep until 8. This schedule really doesn't work for my brain, so I'd rather just get up between 5 and 6 every day. So something else I'm going to try is called split sleeping. Instead of sleeping 8 hours at night, you sleep less at night and instead take a long nap in the middle of the day at some point. A lot of morning news reporters do this, in order to have a similar schedule as their loved ones. I think this could work well for me, since I often have a mid afternoon lull which would be better filled with a nap rather than 2 hours of a TV show. This is also a goal on my 101 list to try, so I'll report back on how it works out.

Exercising Consistently

This has always been something I've been terrible at, but exercise is for more than just looking good in a swimsuit. It affects your mood and energy levels too, and I'd likely sleep better if I would be a bit more consistent. That's why I've been walking 30 minutes everyday. It seemed like a good place to start and it's something that's actually been easy to stick to. I do want to try some other types of exercise but I don't plan on starting anything until this dedicated 30 minutes thing is mastered.

Thankfully, we have a treadmill to aid in this and it's particularly useful in Chicago's May weather, which includes a ton of rain. And I'm actually switching up the rooms in our house to make it more enticing - that's tomorrow's project. I'm switching the treadmill room with our bedroom. That will make the bedroom quieter and move the treadmill closer to the WiFi signal so I can hook up a TV in that room and continue watching Bones for the 47th time, but from the treadmill instead of the couch.

Making Conscious Food Decisions

I don't want to put some sort of drastic Whole30 type of food restrictions on myself. That's tough enough even in the best of circumstances when I can go to the store often and all foods are readily available. But like exercise, proper nutrition has a large impact on not only long-term health but also energy levels and daily health like fighting off allergies or colds. There's also a heavy emotional aspect to food and all the wrong things are usually the most comforting. In the short-term. But I never feel great after I indulge. And I feel especially awful, both mentally and physically, when I just wander into the kitchen and pull random snacks without thinking.

So although I don't plan on trying any sort of 'diets', I am going to try to only make conscious decisions about what I'm eating. Less snacking, less wandering to the kitchen out of boredom rather than hunger, less throwing something together at the last minute. When I stop and think about food, I automatically make better choices without overly trying to follow a restrictive diet.

Setting Up Personal Care Routines

The time has come to stop lounging in pajamas all day and put some makeup on. This is by no means a requirement for everyone, but I personally feel so much better when I complete a proper skincare and haircare routine and actually get dressed each day. I know that makeup can seem like such a waste right now, and I don't intend on doing a full makeup look every day, but I need to do the basics to feel more like myself. It also helps me feel motivated and able to get things done when I get dressed in the morning. Like a real start to my day, even when all I do is stay at home.

Although my skincare routine is quite minimal, I haven't been doing it consistently and skincare really only works when you stick with it. I've been overhauling a few of my products and setting up a new routine since your skincare needs change as you age, and I'm working on doing it more consistently. As in, every single day, as I should be. Let me know if you have any interest in hearing about the products I'm currently using, I can make a post about that.

Setting Goals

I've already done this in the form of my 101 list and the rest of this post, but I think it's still worth mentioning as a form of investing in yourself if you're also feeling a little directionless at the moment. Most goals that were set January 1st have gone right out the window. Understandably. But that doesn't mean those goals can't shift or that new ones can't be made. We're all taking things one day at a time so goal setting seems like an impossible feat, but it really does help to have something to work towards. Goals don't have to be only things like traveling to Paris. Set goals to read a certain amount of books each month or deep clean a room each week or learn a new skill via online courses and TED Talks. All things that can be done from home at a more leisurely pace but get you to a desirable end result and also add a bit more structure back into each day.

Have you also fallen down a bit of a self-indulgent rabbit hole and are ready to make a change? How have you been really taking care of yourself lately?