This year has been tough and left many of us in a pretty bad headspace. Personally, I think I’ve cried and felt anxious more this year than in my other 31 years put together. If the pandemic wasn’t enough, 2020 has just felt like one bad thing after another.
That being said, one positive for me (aside from our rescue dog Vinnie, of course!) is that being forced to stay at home and slow down has meant that I’ve taken more time for self-care.
During these strange times, it’s more important than ever to look after our mental wellbeing. So, here are just a few ways that I have been finding moments of calm among the chaos.
Read a book
If there’s ever a time that we want to be transported to another world, it’s now, right?
I’ve found Beth’s Book Club a great source of inspiration – most of my TBR pile has come from here. You can join the Facebook group for free or become a member (£5.99 a month.) Through this I’ve watched interviews with authors, taken part in a TLC yoga class as well as seeing a talk on letting go of limiting beliefs with Vix Meldrew and another on ‘Finding Joy’ with Happiness Coach, Sophie Cliff.
I don’t usually read the books at the same time as the club (they read two a month and I’m a very slow reader!) But, the next book is Heatwave by Katie Riordian which I happen to be reading at the moment anyway. As well as the chat on it, there is also a Q&A with the author in December.
Don’t fancy reading – how about listening to an audiobook instead?
Walk and listen to a podcast
Get out in the fresh air, among nature and stretch your legs with your headphones in your ears. I love going for a walk and just listening to a podcast – Fearne Cotton’s Happy Place is my favourite.
A recent one with Jay Shetty was particularly interesting, especially when he talks about the acronym TIME:
- Thankfulness – actually express gratitude and thanks to someone
- Inspiration – we need to be inspired to keep motivation and energy – read one quote that you love (perhaps about kindness) and put that into practice and try to live that every day. When you feel like you are learning something new you’ll feel a sense of confidence and achievement.
- Meditation – in its most basic form is learning to spend time with yourself – the power of being alone. Find one thing that you do every day, by yourself, just for you.
- Exercise – walk, dance, sport – whatever it is, move your body.
He says we should implement them every day, even if it’s just 5 minutes for each.
This year’s virtual Happy Place Festival took place during the first lockdown – there were some great talks and classes which you can still see here.
A few more podcasts I’ve started or plan to start, include:
- The Joe Wicks Podcast
- Grounded with Louis Theroux
- Might Delete Later with Gina and Stevie Martin
- Bryony Gordon’s Mad World
- Changes with Annie Mac
There are so many benefits to yoga including decreasing stress and helping to relieve anxiety.
I first tried out The Art of TLC Yoga with Cake & Yoga Club through one of the virtual Beth’s Book Club events. During lockdown you can donate towards a yoga class which takes place on Sunday mornings from 10.30am until 11.30am. There’s also the option to become a member (for £12.99 a month).
I’m really enjoying that class for the connection with others but I also love Yoga with Adrienne on YouTube – there are loads to choose from and you can do it at a time to suit you.
Listen to chilled music
I’ve created my own playlist of chilled songs – but, Cake & Yoga Club also has some lovely playlists particularly Cosy and The Art of TLC. There is also a new Happy Place album which is so calming.
All are blissful to listen to while working from home – but also ideal to pop on while you are doing yoga, pampering yourself or on that walk if you don’t fancy a podcast.
I’ve filled my shelves with Body Shop products since my friend became a consultant – and it has really encouraged me to take some time out and pamper myself.
Have a long bath or a hot shower, then pop on a face mask, turn on that chilled music or grab your book and take 15 minutes to yourself.
Talking about products – I’ve found the Tisserand Aromatherapy Roller Balls brilliant – sleep better and de-stress / calming ones all work really well. You’ll find these in Boots where you can also get Happy Place products – including the relaxation set which is currently half price and comes with a sand timer (to make sure you take at least 15 minutes to yourself!), eye mask, pillow spray and more.
Mindfulness – Sleep Sessions
I originally saw on Instagram that Ella was doing a free taster class and so took part – it made me feel so relaxed and resulted in a really dreamy night’s sleep, too.
Light some candles, pour a herbal tea, wrap yourself in a blanket and she’ll take you through mindfulness skills including breathing techniques as well as a guided relaxation.
There’s an option to book on for a taster session at any time – so you can try before you commit. It’s £4 a class or you can sign up for more to save. The Sleep Sessions are on Tuesday at 9.15pm.
Limit time on social media
I spend far too much time aimlessly scrolling through social media – and then regret it and think how I could have spent it more productively. In a bid to reduce the time I spend on my phone, I have limited Instagram. You can do this by going to: your activity – time – set daily reminder. This can be for however long you like and then when that time is up it will pop up to let you know. You can actually continue to use the app if you wish but it does encourage you not to.
I have also limited the use of most apps between certain hours. Currently this is 10pm and 9am – so I don’t look at my phone before going to bed and as soon as I wake up. Again, you can click on it and it tells you you’ve reached your limit – then gives you the option to ignore the limit for 1 min , 15mins or entirely. But, encourages you not to use it. You can do this by going to – settings – screen time – downtime and then choose your preferences.
You might not fancy any of these – but, whatever self-care looks like for you, make sure to set aside some time for it and be kind to your mind.