A few months ago, I felt helplessly stressed – and it showed. I felt like I was never going to be able to do enough in a day to ever get back on top of my life with everything I had going on with work and personally, and I began to neglect myself since I felt I didn’t have enough time to justify taking any for myself. As silly as it sounds to write this now, it was a very real struggle for me to commit to caring for myself because I was spreading myself so thin.
I was spinning out trying to write, knee deep in a vicious mental cycle of blame and shame. I’ll go get my nails done once I finish A, B, C, X, Y, and Z. I’ll finish all of this by the end of the day and then make an appointment and it will be great. I don’t deserve to get my nails done if I don’t accomplish all of these things, because I’ve failed and that would be a waste of my time if I haven’t finished all of my work. Long story short… My nails were the same sad state of chipped and broken for weeks. Kind of a metaphor for the state of my life at the time – looks polished from far away, but a hot mess up close.
Near tears in frustration, I gave up on work for the time being one day and called my nail salon á la Elle Woods for an emergency mani/pedi. I felt guilty for ditching out on my responsibilities until somewhere mid-foot and shoulder massage an epiphany dawned on me: how on earth would I be able to produce and deliver work that I cared about so much, at the level and quality I expected, if I didn’t care about myself first? It was then that I realized I had to take care of my self (in the most literal way), before I could take care of my work.
Not only did I have unrealistic expectations for my work, I was being delusional about how I should be spending my time and what I should be doing with my life. No matter how important my work is to me, it was making me psycho and my sanity/wellbeing is the most important.
You guys might be rolling your eyes at how silly or trivial this seems – OR maybe I’m not the only one who struggles with properly prioritizing life, work, and caring for yourself.
What, like finding a balance is hard?
How To Manage Your Time: Efficiency Tips.
- MAKE LISTS. LISTS SAVE YOUR LIFE. I don’t yet have an assistant, or project manager, so it’s up to me to keep my life and business organized. Make template lists to streamline your prep time for basically anything! These are the kind you can refer back to – make a master list, and don’t throw it away. A few of the lists I keep and can customize/add onto as needed: grocery shopping list, weekly apartment cleaning to do’s, packing lists (you can make seasonal/situation specific notes for these, too), daily work tasks, daily life tasks, basically if I can make a list out of something – I will. It clears out your head and allows you to focus on getting shit done, not remembering all the shit you need to get done.
- Check out actual productivity systems like the Pomodoro Technique, the Kanban Method, or Getting Things Done. Just learning about these helped to structure my personal productivity system (if you can call it that) and I’ve adopted some ideas from all of them. This is not an exhaustive list, you can search for different productivity systems and see which one resonates and is the most effective for you.
- Set up a rewards system to incentivize yourself. Whether it’s getting your nails done after a long week at work or treating yourself to a new pair of shoes for sticking to your diet, find a way to stay inspired about your work/whatever you’re procrastinating on or dreading doing or are overwhelmed by. Go spend time at your favorite coffee shop if you’re working on the weekend because you need to finish a presentation – or go get your favorite bottle of wine to sip as you go over your to do list for the next day. You’ll get a celebratory “work is over!” buzz and will be prepared to dive headfirst into work the next morning with your priorities in order.
- Learn the art of effective multitasking.
- Use a real, physical calendar or planner. Last year I used the Erin Condren planner (read the post) and this year I’m trying Design Love Co’s planner, which seems AWESOME so far… I’ll be talking about it on here soon. Basically, don’t trust technology to keep your schedule. Having a hard copy of your life and work is instrumental to doing a reality check on your time, to be able to find ways to optimize your efficiency or where you can multitask better, or find a few free minutes to have some time to yourself. Whatever. Nothing soothes me like knowing my life seems organized – if only on paper.
I put a lot of effort into my work life (and everything else), AKA I’m a psycho perfectionist who can never turn her brain down. I’m learning that it seriously pays to invest in yourself via self-care/love practices with the same level of commitment and effort I’d dedicate to my work.
I find I have less anxiety about life in general and am more efficient when I regularly take time out my day/week to pamper myself. When I say pamper, I just mean taking time that is selfishly dedicated to YOU – and doing whatever makes you feel good with it. I’ve struggled with keeping this up because I feel guilty taking time for myself and have to remind myself that it’s essential to making the most of my other time. I legit have to force myself to acknowledge the value of self-care practices to justify taking that time for myself, as stupid as that sounds – and it sounds so stupid to me once I’m doing them and realize how much I enjoy it and how wonderful it feels.
Below are some of my favorite go to’s for what to do when you want to de-stress, ground yourself, or enjoy some me time.
How to Maintain Your Sanity: Self Care Pampering Practices I Do to Remind Myself How Much I Love Myself.
- Taking a bath. While it’s a basic white girl favorite of mine to drop a Lush bath bomb in steaming hot water and watch it fizzle and dissolve around me and leaving a delicious explosion of scent and color – epsom salt baths HEAL. MY. LIFE. I’m a Pisces, so generally anything to do with the water helps revive me from the dead or bring me back to the here and now. For instance, showering in the morning is crucial to starting my day off in the right state of mind… But if you have never read about the benefits of an epsom salt soak, do that immediately. There are a bunch of health benefits – it helps detox your bod, alleviates inflammation/sore muscles, grounds you, clears out toxic/negative energy, and more. I feel fanfuckingtastic after I’ve soaked in an epsom salt bath. I usually add a few drops of lavender oil to mine, but if you have an essential oil preference feel free to use what you like.
- Also try: taking a cold shower. Like, a really really cold shower – and stay under the water for at least a minute. You’ll feel amazing after, promise. Once you soak in the cold you are welcome to go back to a warm temperature and thaw yourself out, too. ENJOY!
- Going outside. Go on a leisurely walk, take your dog out, go on a run, go on a hike, whatever. Go outside and connect with the actual, wonderful world we live in. If you can put your feet in the sand, that’s my personal favorite – and I’m pretty sure it neutralizes the excess electrons in our system, I THINK – don’t quote me I’m not a scientist I just read a lot of scholarly articles. The theory behind this is “grounding” or “earthing,” which can also be achieved by standing on the earth with your bare feet and visualizing roots growing out of you and into it. This can also help you to rid yourself of negative energy or vibezzzz and *transmute it to the earth for healing,” again don’t quote me, but I have read on this from multiple credible sources so I’m basically an expert. Living in downtown LA, I’m always excited to drive to the South Bay to see my boyfriend and usually drag him on a walk in the sand. I’m a Pisces – what else do you really expect?
- FAVE: ESSENTIAL OILS = LITERALLY ESSENTIAL TO MY LIFE. I use essential oils for everything. I got into them naturally well over a year ago now, but in the fall I went to an “essential oils and emotions” healing workshop that was amazing and since then I’ve started incorporating them into my daily life and feel like they’re little drops of natural magic whenever I need any kind of support. You can use them in the bath, on your pillow, just smell them, topically apply them or use in massage, and add them to drinks/food. I am so obsessed/such a believer that I’ve become a distributor for Doterra, so if you want to know more or try some out, just let me know… My favorites right now are bergamot (citrusy, like grapefruit – refreshing and energizing), basil (helps with anxiety – sometimes I want to take a shower in it), lavender (I love lavender in general, but LOVE putting a few drops on my pillows at night), and their Balance blend which has a few different oils in it. I think I’m overdue for a post on essential oils… so I’ll come back to this later. If you’re interested to learn more, tweet me about it or send me an email – I clearly love talking about this so I’d love to chat.
- Pampering. By this I don’t mean primping, where you stare at your beautiful face in the mirror and fawn over your reflection. I’m talking about putting on a face mask or deep conditioning your hair if you’re just hanging out in the privacy of your home and you have 5 minutes of free time. It’s like a stolen indulgence to walk around during the day with a face mask on while I’m working, or curl up after dinner to work on some writing with a conditioning mask in my hair. Taking good care of yourself doesn’t need to be some huge production, it just takes a commitment to getting off the couch.
- FAVE: Crystals.
- Getting a mani/pedi on the reg. Whether it’s an incentive to get something specific done or just because I need to go, I go. As you read above, my nails have a profound effect on my life and I’ve learned it’s in my best interest to get them done before they get all ratchet. I obviously work with my hands, writing and typing all the time, so when my nails are chipped it is CONSTANTLY nagging at my head and bringing down my vibe. No guilt for getting your nails did, girls. I love writing to do lists with a fresh manicure. It gets me excited to work and write because my hands look so pretty with fresh glossy nails. Logic?
- Focusing on my breath. When we get stressed out or scared, we sometimes start taking in quick, shallow breaths, which won’t help you feel any better. If you find yourself doing this, pause and take a few deep breaths. Even just that will help put you back in your body and get some perspective in your head… Go one deeper: I like to listen to guided meditations to calm me down if I’m super stressed out – even though I tend to get distracted wondering how much longer they’ll be because I have shit to do – which is exactly why I should meditate LONGER, but no one is perfect. It’s amazing how quickly I can shift my headspace with my breathing. Don’t forget to do this one, or you might literally die.
What are your self-care/self love practices? How do you take time out in life just for you? Share the love in a comment. I’d also love to learn any organization or de-stressing/relaxation tips you guys have, so please share those too.
I hope these tips have been useful and/or have inspired any of you stressed out boss bitches to take a minute for yourself today – you deserve it.