Happy September! I can’t tell you how much I love this time of year. Don’t get me wrong, my heart will forever be tied to summer, but with autumn comes so much to enjoy. Cooler days, long walks, crunchy leaves, cosy nights in by the fire (under my blanket, in full on granny mode) and STRICTLY. Who else loves Strictly Come Dancing? Honestly I’m obsessed, I record the daily BBC2 It Takes Two (all the news and gossip from the show) so I can watch it religiously when I’m back from work. See? OBSESSED.
Anyway, moving on to the point of this post, on Instagram I follow the lovely Laura Jane Williams (@superlativelylj), an ex-Grazia columnist and author of Becoming, and Ice Cream for Breakfast. Ever since I read Ice Cream for Breakfast (side note: go read this, you’ll relate on so many levels and want Laura as your new best friend), I basically became obsessed with her and her kick-ass ‘we all fuck up and that’s completely ok’ attitude to life *inserts hands in the air emoji*.
A few days ago, Laura did a post about something she has made up and called #SelfCareSeptember. This is the idea of committing to ‘active recovery’, following what nourishes your soul and makes you happy, going easier on yourself whilst still doing. It’s about looking within and listening to yourself.
So, I thought I’d join in and make a list of things I am going to do to look after myself as part of my #SelfCareSeptember. With days getting shorter and nights getting darker quickly, mid autumn to winter is a time where I tend to really struggle with my depression. That’s why I thought if I can get into a strong self care routine now, it will better prepare me and staying ‘up’ won’t feel like such an effort. It will be natural and fun.
So, without further ado, here are 10 things that I’ll be doing as part of my #SelfCareSeptember.
1. Continue using my sunrise alarm
I can’t tell you how much this has made a difference to the quality of my sleeping and mood. My Lumie Bodyclock is a wake-up light that gradually turns on and gets brighter during the last 30 minutes of sleep. You basically wake up with the sun (which, if you live in the UK like me, you’ll know that seeing a beautiful sunrise is a rarity!) and are left feeling alert, refreshed and ready to take on the day ahead. It’s typically used for people with SAD and really helps me with mine. So, as the weather gets darker, depressing and generally just crappier, I’ll make sure I use my alarm every day.
I always thought it was a myth, but it turns out that exercise actually does make you feel good! I’ve recently started seeing a personal trainer called Jack Wright (check out his website and Insta for fitness and awesome recipes!) who is helping me to lose weight, get toned and understand how to use gym equipment properly so I can confidently train by myself in the future.
Side note: we went to college together and I think I’ve said more words to him in 2 weeks of starting this programme than in those 2 years haha!
But yeah, I’m doing an 8 week transformation programme and I’m so so excited. Not gonna lie, I chose to embark on this programme because I was eating crap, getting tubby and frankly – I’m too vain to be tubby. Plus, I’m really keen to have a regular exercise routine as that again will help combat my depression and SAD in the upcoming winter months. So far, I’ve lost 2 ½ lbs in just one week of training with Jack and eating healthier – yay!
3. Eat healthier and learn how to cook
This is very much a work in progress. All my life, I’ve somehow got away with eating shit, not putting on any weight and not feeling too bad after, either. BUT THEN – the clock struck 12 for my 21st birthday and suddenly, my super high metabolism fucked off and left me putting on weight very quickly. I’d eat shit food and, like the rest of the world, I’d feel like a bag of shit after. Therefore, to go alongside my fitness regime, I am working on turning my diet around so that I’m still having delicious meals (and lots of them – this girl loves her food!), but meals that are more nutritious. After all, your body is a temple… and all that.
I’ve never really cooked much (perks of living at home), but this is all changing and I am learning how to cook stuff other than scrambled eggs, toast, bacon and a microwave meal. Pray for me!
4. Go for long walks
Walking is one of my favourite things and where I live is a walker’s paradise (take that, Coolio). I live in Stourbridge which is a town 30 minutes outside of Birmingham and near the countryside. Near, not in – there’s a difference. Anyhoo, I live a five minute drive from the Clent Hills, a beauty spot offering stunning scenery and picturesque views of the Cotswolds, Welsh borders and Shropshire Hills. It’s so lovely and quiet (which is amazing to come back to after working in bustling Birmingham all day) and is perfect for spotting sunsets. Then there’s Kinver which is perfect for cute little canal walks, and the Wyre Forest which I love to explore.
5. Read for fun
It’s not that I don’t read for fun, I love reading and have read so much lately (like Lace – it’s brilliant!). But, me being me and constantly trying to one up myself and progress in some way, I end up putting pressure on myself to finish a book quickly. Literally, yesterday morning I was rushing to read my copy of Cosmo because I wanted to finish it in one sitting. So, you’ve heard it here, this autumn I pledge to just chill out and let myself read books at a human pace. Even if I only get through one in like two months, as long as I’m enjoying it – who cares?
6. Stay committed to my skincare routine
It’s all about the pampering. Having good skin really does make me feel good about myself. I used to be awful and just scrub makeup off with wipes, or even just sleep in it (gross, I know). Now, I religiously use Simple’s cleansing water, day cream and night cream (promise this is not an ad, I just really love their products!). This autumn and winter, I’m going to treat myself to more pamper nights (whilst simultaneously watching Strictly – such fun!) and will invest in some good face and hair masks. Spritz the air with my L’Occitane pillow mist (giving my room all the spa smells) and the job’s a good ‘un.
7. Actively pursue happiness and relaxation
To do this, I’m going to expand my knowledge on Hygge, the Danish concept for embracing warmth, laughter and the little things in life. Demark has been ranked one of the happiest countries in the world and hygge underpins all Danish life. It’s about spending time with family, creating a cosy living space and maximizing how you enjoy your free time. Think of a house with soft fairy lights, cosy blankets, plants, delicious warming food with smells engulfing every room – you get the gist.
8. Do more chilled things with friends
Anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m a planner. I love to know that I’ve got things to look forward to, but often get bogged down by the pressure of planning amazing days out for me and mis amigas. In reality, friendship isn’t about going on big, expensive days out and some of my favourite memories have been when I’ve just chilled out on the sofa with friends. Last week, my friend Aman and I took her dog for an hour long walk after work, then we went back to her house and literally just lay on her bed gossiping. It was pure bliss. Such a chilled way to unwind from the day.
9. Allowing myself to be unproductive
This links in with the above and is something that I am really working hard on. As a planner, I’m that annoying person who likes to completely fill up all of her time and wants to be 100% productive. However, I’ve found out that trying to be 100% productive just results in me burning myself out. That’s why now, I try to have evenings and weekends where I just chill. Just be. I’m always rushing to do things and progress myself to the next stage (when sometimes, I don’t even know what that bloody stage is), whereas letting myself unwind and my mind quieten down genuinely does me the world of good. Remember those t-shirts that had ‘Frankie says relax’ written across them? Well I’m trying to make that a new mantra to live by!
10. Have something to look forward to every week
You might think that this contradicts the above, but bear with. When I say have something to look forward to, it could just be going to a cosy café with my mom on the weekend. Or having a movie night in my PJs where I wear a face mask and eat copious amounts of chocolate. Or eating a calorific cupcake for breakfast. Particularly in the autumn and winter months, I’ve found that it’s so easy for life to feel dreary and monotonous, so I want to have lots of little things to keep my mood on the up.
What do you do as part of your self care? Is there anything that makes you feel amazing that you’d recommend? x