In part one, I talked about my own self-care kit and how important it is this year to make your own health – both physical and mental – a priority. When we are faced with difficult times ahead as well as dealing with uncertainty and confusion, it is hard to maintain a normal routine like going to work, socialising with friends or visiting family, but even harder to do the things we perhaps took for granted like book a haircut or an eyebrow appointment, visit our favourite hotels or go on holiday.
So the one thing we do have control over right now is ourselves and if we can all learn a bit of self-care and putting ourselves first for a while, it may mean that so many of us come out of the other side of this feeling even better than we did before the pandemic started, or at least a bit more organised and collected in our own lives.
In part one, I let you know about my self-care kit with regards to maintaining energy, so exercise and energising foods and drinks, and also about what I do to relax, so my pamper kit and reading – mostly looking at the physical aspect of my body’s health. In part two, I think about Creativity and Mindfulness and how these things are really important for mental wellbeing, which is so important now especially that everyone is so focused on physical health aspects.
Being creative doesn’t necessarily come naturally to some people, and I always find this is used as an excuse to not get creative even when it could be fun, distracting or even productive. I was born with more creative bones in my body than academic, so to speak, so I have always found it quite natural and enjoyable to pick up a pencil and start drawing than to work out a mathematic problem or get stuck in with a science project.
But there are ways to be creative that don’t require so much skill in specific departments and can just be good fun and a way to illuminate the mind and find out what you’re really capable of. Creativity is a great form of self-care and I would always say everyone has at least one creative bone in their body, so it’s time to see exactly what that is.
A Blank Canvas – I love to draw and paint so naturally during lockdown, a blank canvas and some of my finest paints were the first things to come out of hibernation. The problem was, I wasn’t feeling very inspired. My own creativity consisted of me sitting there staring at a blank page for possible hours.
As the year has gone on, I’m finding it easier to draw from experiences – literally – and put pen to paper. Now, this might not work for everyone, and to a lot of people it may not even seem enjoyable. So when it comes to your own self-care kit, it’s a great idea to think about what you can do that is creative, gets the mind’s juices flowing and allows for some you time in a fun way. Writing is always a good example of this, even just for odd thoughts or musings, or perhaps a diary outlet that allows you to get things off your chest in a personal way. I have a notebook and pens/pencils in my bag with me every day for sketches or notes if I want to remember something funny that happened and it really is a great way of managing thoughts while doing something positive.
Decorating or gardening is another way to get creative, and if you have found yourself in a sort of lockdown situation or perhaps working less than usual, what better way to be creative than transform a bedroom, arrange some new plants or upholster some new cushions. It also gives you a good excuse to do some online shopping and in difficult times, who doesn’t love a good delivery of new things.
Being creative isn’t restricted to a blank canvas and paint brush, and any creative outlet should be welcomed (encouraged) to assist with mental wellbeing. By decreasing anxiety, a creative task gives the mind focus and can even be a form of meditation, as well as being a release for intense emotions. If you can’t think of a way to be creative straight away, don’t force it, but if you want to incorporate this in your own self-care kit maybe start by carrying around that notebook and jot things down that inspire you to start on your own creative adventure.
Cooking – Ok so you can’t exactly fit a whole kitchen inside a self-care kit, but you get the idea. Creativity comes in all forms and for me, cooking is one of my most therapeutic methods of self-care. This isn’t the same for everyone, and a lot of people see cooking as an arduous task that is only necessary for them to survive. But stick with me here, I’m not saying you have to become Gordon Ramsey and open a Michelin star restaurant, but if you think about the positives of cooking, it may help you see it as an enjoyable task that you start to feel excited for.
My reasons for cooking being part of my self-care kit are
- I enjoy food, a lot! So, what better way to feed this passion than learn how to cook amazing meals for myself.
- It’s cheaper than eating out or ordering takeaway, which at the moment, the purse strings desperately need to avoid.
- It gives me something to focus on and build a new skill, and then feel immensely proud when I cook for someone else and they enjoy it.
- It helps me to control what I put into my body, staying physically healthy is as important as staying mentally healthy so knowing what ingredients are in my food and seeking out healthier alternatives is better for me.
- It’s the perfect excuse for a glass of wine. Cooking is amazing if you make it about you and take the time to enjoy doing it, celebrating your moment in the kitchen with some wine and great aromas around you does wonders for the mind.
Updated Makeup, Skin and Eyelash Care Kit – So this one falls under my creative category because if you look at it, our faces are a blank canvas every day that we have opportunities to makeover in a safe, harmless and non-permanent way (if we don’t want to, anyway). I find that in a lockdown situation, I have not been wearing makeup as I used to as I don’t really go out as much as I used to.
But I always have to think about Zoom meetings and other video chats where the focus is going to be on my face and as I can also see myself, it is easy to get self-conscious, especially not wearing makeup. So, I decided to revamp my makeup kit and start to get a bit more creative with what I was wearing and how I was wearing it.
Side note: If you aren’t a big makeup wearer, then you could look into skin care routines as part of your self-care kit and just always have flawless looking and feeling skin, even without the cover up!
I treated myself to a new rejuvenating moisturiser and under-eye serum to make sure I always look awake, even when I don’t feel it, and invested in some new intensive care lip balms, eyelash serums and eyebrow kits. It is such a good feeling opening up a new bit of makeup or skin care lotion and trying it for the first time, so it was a good outlet for creativity as the time away from the office allowed me to practice styles that I hadn’t before and use different colours on my eyelids and lips. Sometimes there are small victories in making yourself feel made up and ready to go, even when you aren’t able to.
I also love the feeling that when this is all over, I will still feel like me and look like me, but hopefully a bit of a healthier version of me. I’ve been looking after my hair with oil treatments, my eyelashes with healthy eyelash serums that also help them stay strong and grow longer and my skin is having a few more breaks from the daily makeup regimen. But there’s no harm in a little creative practice every now and then, so I look forward to the days when I get made up.
The purpose of mindfulness is to eradicate stress from your life and see things in a different ways by feeling in the moment and using specific exercises to relax the body and mind. It is a practice that is encouraged over a long period of time in order to ground your feelings and emotions and engage your senses. To people that aren’t fully aware of mindfulness or who have in the past, doubted its capability of working, in times where self-care is needed more than ever, it is a good practice to at least read about and learn about in order to figure out if it is a worthwhile exercise.
When it comes to mindfulness and my own self-care kit, I include it in small everyday ways rather than dedicate long hours to meditation, as time ends to not be on my side, but I also recognise that the little things really help to bring me back to my current self and present thoughts without much effort.
No Distractions – This one is harder than it sounds. No phone, no book, no TV or tablets, just no distractions for 10-15 minutes. It sounds like a short amount of time but when you’re left to your own thoughts for this long, the mind tends to wander. I personally love to use this as part of my self-care routine as it helps me to gain control of my wandering mind.
For mindfulness to truly work, you need to sit comfortably, breath calmly and think about your senses. What can you hear? What can you smell? What can you feel? Just by sitting still, you can really focus on the present and what is going on around you to relax the brain. When I do this and my mind starts to go off to different places, worrying about work or money or phone calls I need to make, it becomes easier over time to rein those thoughts in and regain focus on myself in the current moment. This kind of focus is amazing training for the brain that allows you to recompose during times of stress and formulate solutions by thinking rationally.
My self-care kit includes various books and apps for mindfulness and I find for me, it is a great thing to do last thing at night before I go to bed, but some might find it more beneficial at the start of the day. Either way, it is a great way to work on yourself during a lockdown and keep those negative thoughts at bay, even if it is just for 15 minutes a day!
A Good Playlist – Ok so mindfulness has a specific meaning and there is a lot behind the practice that involve grounding and relaxing while thinking about the present moment. As I said before, I do love to take 15 minutes out of my day for this practice but I’m also a firm believer that music has the ability to make me feel better or amplify my mood.
I don’t know about you, but I have days where I need to let the tears out and sometimes the best way to do that is with a sad film or some music that makes you feel certain emotions. But when so many daily lives are affected by sadness and confusion at the moment, I feel that having a good playlist for self-care should contain music that uplifts and inspires. I set up a 16 hour playlist on my phone so I never actually get through it all at once, but it’s great for days when you forget a certain song and it comes on making me feel energised and happy.
Music acts as a medium for processing emotions and while mine are quite high these days, I couldn’t live without my favourite playlist. If you want to include a music playlist in your self-care kit, don’t feel like you just have to have one, you can have as many as you like for each mood, I just choose one as I love the surprise of what’s coming next with no idea if it will be an upbeat classic, some moody rock, or a singalong from my favourite musical.
Lockdown Self-Care Round Up
Whether the country or the region you live in has been mildly or hugely affected by the pandemic, it is safe to say we have all been troubled by it in some way over the past year. Try to remember that looking after yourself in a positive way is not anything to be ashamed of, as the world needs more positivity at a time like this. Here’s hoping you use your own self-care routines wisely and have fun putting together your own kits.