Let’s talk about self love and self care. We hear these words all the time, from our friends, family, and literally plastered all over social media. Especially these days, there are so many people preaching the importance of self love and care that you think it would be so easy and obvious to actually do it; to implement these rest days and the bubble baths and the mud masks. So why is it so hard for me? I dont know about you guys, but when I take a sick day from work or a rest day from the gym, I find myself trying to find something productive to do. I hate just lounging around my house or laying in bed.
I used to think that I didn’t need this type of thing in my life. If I liked to be productive and check the things off on my to-do list, how could taking a break actually be good for me? I genuinely enjoy working and being productive, but let me tell you what I’ve discovered about the importance of an actual break or an actual REST day. Your body can only do so much. You can only keep moving and keep being 100% productive before something gives. For me, it’s my health, either mental or physical. I’ll be going for so long that I push myself into a Crohns flare up or I’ll be working so hard that the anxiety builds up and my mental health takes a turn. While I’m writing this in order to help you guys, I’m also learning and preaching this to myself. I still find it hard to slow down, even knowing the consequences, but I am trying so hard to take these tips to heart and implement at least one of them on my rest days.
1. SLEEP IN
Don’t set your alarm. Leave your phone across the room and wake up when your body tells you it’s time. I always want to wake up early via my alarm and start my day being productive. I’m so worried that I’ll lose the hours in the day and find myself accomplishing nothing by noon. While some days it’s important to get your errands done before midday, sometimes it’s OKAY to sleep and let the hours go. So say your day off is a Saturday. Get home on Friday, do whatever it is you do, like eat dinner and shower or maybe go hang with your friends, but then get into bed and forget your to do list. Your long lists are not going anywhere, and sleeping for a few extra hours and taking a day off isn’t going to hurt you, trust me. So my first tip, forget the alarm. Let your bodies natural alarm wake you up. And whether your body naturally wakes you up at 6 am or at noon, either way, listen to it. Your body knows best even if your mind is trying to tell you otherwise.
2. START THE DAY WITH A WARM DRINK IN BED
This sounds so simple, but trust me, do it! I love starting any day with a warm lemon water, but on a day off I make an extra effort to stay in bed for while longer with a hot cup of tea or coffee. I like to stay under my covers, maybe turn on Netlifx, and slowly sip on a warm beverage. I find that this helps me wake up slowly and calmly and sets the day off on the right tone. Rather than getting up right away and starting to do all the things, take it slow, relax, and let your body find its natural rhythm. As hard as it can be to be so slow, sometimes it can really help you, your body, and your mind.
3. EAT A GOOD FIRST MEAL
You all know the saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Can you believe I used to skip it?? I didn’t think this meal mattered because I never woke up starved. Let me tell you how wrong I was. Most days I could feel my body crashing before 12 because I woke up so early and I skipped breakfast. By lunch time, I was ravenous and frantically searching for food in the fridge. This just wasn’t healthy! So these days, when I sleep in and listen to my body, I try to continue this by listening to my bodies hunger cues and cravings and thinking about what I genuinely want to eat. I try to include a variety of food groups and colors in my first meal, for example, a huge bowl of warm oats loaded with fruits and nutrients. So, after that warm drink, try to make time to make yourself a filling breakfast. There are so many examples of different meals you can eat, just check out my insta if you’re feeling uninspired.
4. DO SOMETHING YOU LOVE
What do you really love to do? Think about the things you love doing, but never have time to do because you’re always trying to accomplish your to-do list. Some things I love doing, but never have time to, are reading, watching tv, listening to podcasts, cleaning, baking (for pleasure), and hanging out with my friends. After a good first meal, try to do one or two of those things. I LOVE to bake, as obviously seen by this account. However, when I bake for the purpose of chens_plate, it’s work. Don’t get me wrong, I love every second of it, but it’s not relaxing. I’m always on my feet, running around my kitchen, taking photos, writing down notes, re-baking, and re-testing. So on a day off, I’ll pick ONE recipe I’ve made before, one that I know will be successful, and just bake it because I want to eat it, not because I want to share a new recipe or take a new photo. I’ll take my sweet time and then share the recipe with my family and eat the leftovers as a sweet treat in the moment. I’ll play music while I do it and find the joy in something I love to do so much.
This is obvious, but it’s not always easy (or ever easy in my case.) Spend the rest of your day doing something genuinely relaxing. Maybe light a few candles, diffuse oils, play some calming music, and just do something for yourself. I find that laying in bed isn’t always super enjoyable for me, so I try to slowly clean my room because it actually helps my mood. I do it without any rush and only for me. I personally love to clean and I love the feeling of a clean room when I’m taking a day off.
6. TREAT YOURSELF LIKE A PRINCESS/PRINCE
Do something that you wouldn’t do all the time, like getting your nails done, getting a massage, or a facial. If you don’t have the money to spend, that’s totally fine! Make an at home face mask and lay in the tub with some nice smelling oils and soaps. I love painting my toes and watching a little TV as I do it. This way I don’t have to leave my house, spend any money, and I can guarantee it’s done the way I like it. This act of self love will only add to the affect of your self care.
7. GET BACK INTO BED EARLY
After a long day of rest, and doing all the self love and self care, you wouldn’t think that going to bed early is a must. However, I find that for me, going to bed early and getting even more sleep helps me feel the most rejuvenated. I wake up the next day with a smile on my face because I had a relaxing day the day before and I slept enough. With all of this, I can have an actually productive day knowing that I gave my body the rest it desperately needed
Keep in mind that all of this is coming from an overworked 23 year old who has three jobs and LOVES to feel productive. I love to feel like I accomplished so much in a day and checking off a long to-do list. However, I’ve noticed over the last few months that working like this is not sustainable. I can’t work this hard all the time, without a break, and expect my overall health to be ok. A break is needed in order to be your best self. When you take a break like this, you actually come out the other side wanting to be more productive, and actually being able to. Without a break, your tired body just wants to slow down and you won’t be able to be the productive person you know you can be.
So trust me, I know how hard it can be to take a break. And maybe you read all of this and still can’t find the motivation to give yourself a break, but I encourage you to take on one of these things. Maybe start your day with a hot drink in bed or maybe take time for an extra long breakfast. Maybe one full day off is just too much too fast, but one thing can go a long way. One day, you’ll be able take an entire day, weekend, or even week, just for yourself, to heal your body and give it the break it deserves.