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Learning to Love Self-Care

I'm sitting on a bed, with a pillow against my legs, staring into the distance.
To think that I used to think self-care was silly. Honestly, it’s the best thing ever!

I’ve always been one of those people who failed to embrace self-care. I used to think of it as something expensive, like a day or weekend at the spa or going on a trip. Add on top of that, constantly feeling guilty whenever I’d start taking steps to incorporate it into my life. I would think things like, “You’re being lazy,” or “You should be doing something else that is more valuable.”

In reality, however, self-care isn’t being lazy, and it isn’t less valuable than anything else in your life. Self-care is just as important as going to therapy or eating healthy. It’s doing something for you that will rejuvenate you to thrive in other tasks that you need to do. So, what changed my mind? The pandemic.

When the pandemic first started, I found myself losing track of time. Without even noticing, my work-life balance became more work than life. I stopped being mindful because work was something I could do while being stuck at home. Well, let me tell you, that caught up on me real quick about six months later when I started feeling burned out. I had to take a step back and figure out what I needed for myself. At first, I started doing simple things – having lunch away from the computer, not looking at emails after a particular time, and playing with my dogs as screen breaks. But as time went on, it still wasn’t enough. So, I did what any other list fanatic would do – I made a list of things I could do as a form of self-care.

You might be thinking, “That’s a bit sad that you had to come up with a list!” And you’re not wrong. It is sad. But you see, I had trained myself to view self-care as this negative, that I needed to create a list that I could acclimatize myself and baby step into embracing self-care. And not someone else’s view of self-care, but one that resonated and worked for me.

So, what made my list?

Reading for pleasure

Those who know me in my day-to-day life will tell you I’m a lifelong student. I’m always taking new courses, researching, and trying to better myself as a professional. That means I’m typically reading textbooks, white papers, journals and more. I know, that doesn’t sound too relaxing, but to me, it was fun. Unfortunately, this meant my brain was always on the go instead of taking a break and just relaxing.

So, I made it my mission to find and read books for self-enlightenment, growth, and really, just for fun! Instead of splurging on new books, which I’ve been guilty of doing before, I decided to shop the shelves of my bookcases. I’ve got loads of books that I love and hadn’t read in ages, so I thought this was a brilliant first step to embracing reading as a self-care mechanism.

Sarah Knight's Book "You Do You" resting on a polka dot blanket
I have all of Sarah Knight’s books. I love them so much!

What books helped me rekindle my love of reading for pleasure?

Adding Podcasts to my Playlist

I have never really been a fan of audiobooks. So, when it came to podcasts, I always dismissed them as something similar. But, that slowly started to change before the pandemic when my friend started his podcast. It was brilliant – funny, endearing, silly, cringeworthy moments. It was everything I needed in my first podcast series. But for the longest time, his podcast was the only one I had ever listened to. But once I was stuck at home and had essentially finished Netflix, I started to look into podcasts again. This time, I fell in love. They were great companions to my workday when I wasn’t in meetings. Now, it may sound silly, but the hosts of the podcasts filled the void of my colleagues. I missed the office atmosphere where I could chat with my work friends about the latest news and all that jazz. I honestly felt silly for wasting so much time before getting into podcasts!

The Papaya Podcast with Sarah Nicole. Sarah is standing against a white brick wall.
From Sarah’s podcast to her blog to her Instagram, she creates incredible content!

So, what are my favourite podcasts?

Listening to sweet tunes

I'm sitting on the floor in front of my shelves filled with records, holding up an NSYNC vinyl.
While I have a fantastic record collection, I’ll always go back to my first love – N’SYNC!

While music has always been part of my life, I had stopped listening to music as a thing. It became background noise in the car or when I was working. And that’s the stupidest thing because I love my vinyl collection. So, I started dedicating my lunch hours to listening to music. What does that mean? I pick one or two records, sit on the floor with the dogs in my office, and enjoy the music. No computer. No other activities. Just me, the dogs, and music. It’s helped my afternoon productivity, which was a great surprise. It lets me wind down a bit in the middle of the day and zone out. It’s great! Sometimes I can’t do that just because of how my meetings line up, but I try to do this at least three times a week. Not only has it helped my productivity, but it’s also reignited my passion for music.

Manicures

As someone who tends to chew their nails (yes, I know, it’s a disgusting habit), I had become a bit embarrassed by their appearance. I had maybe gotten a manicure about a handful of times in the past but never felt it was something that was for me. Well, recently I decided to change that. Something as simple as keeping my nails nicely manicured is a form of self-care, and it makes me feel better about myself. So, for the last four months, I’ve been getting manicures, and my nails look fabulous! Thank you to Jenn at Nails For You at the Oshawa Centre for making me feel more confident and easing me into the manicure process.

Getting Active

I used to be a competitive swimmer when I was younger. So it should come as no surprise when I say I find swimming the most relaxing activity. Some people run, I swim. I love the feeling of becoming one with water. Just you, alone in your lane, swimming back and forth for an hour. I’ve been trying to go two to three times a week, but it’s sometimes hard to find a timeslot that works with my schedule with the restrictions still in place. But that hasn’t stopped me from having swimming be part of my life. As restrictions ease, I’m sure I’ll be swimming more frequently. For those wondering, my favourite stroke is the butterfly, followed by freestyle.

These are my forms of self-care. The will be different for everyone and can change over time based on what you need. Some other easy ways to find self-care in everyday life include long baths, cooking or baking, treating yourself to a fancy coffee or drink from Starbucks, binging on your favourite show, or going for a run.

What are your go-to self-care things? Tell me in the comments below.

Until next time!

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