Oh hey, dark nights, you’re back already? I’d say it’s nice to see you, but I’d be lying.
I struggle at this time of year. I don’t know if it’s the miserable weather, the lack of daylight hours, my overwhelming calendar, post-summer blues or the mounting pressure of Christmas – maybe it’s a combination of them all – something just doesn’t sit right with me at this time of year. I hate being cold, so you’ll catch me swanning about in my onesie at any suitable opportunity, and if I’m not in my pyjamas I’m most likely complaining about wanting to be in them. As the season changes so does my approach to self-care, and as the dark nights crawl in looking after myself becomes increasingly important to my ability to make it through the winter relatively unscathed. There are a few key things I like to focus on at this time of year to try and make things that little bit easier, and when Jet2 kindly sent me a bumper package full of some blues-busting treats I thought it was the perfect time to chat through my seasonal self-care changes.
One of the biggest things for me, particularly at this time of year, is having a strong routine. Now that I work freelance – which is a discussion for another post – this is more important than ever, as it’s all too easy to fall prey to the temptation of staying in bed all day. Being in college three days a week helps here, as it means I can rely on those days to follow a pretty similar schedule, and I find that getting out of the house and working in a dedicated “work zone” is really good for both getting me in the working mindset and establishing a routine for my week. I’ve been really busy recently, which has been slightly overwhelming, but now that winter is really creeping in I’m trying to make sure I have at least one full day to relax each week, and I’m giving myself more evenings in than evenings out. I’m a homebody, what can I say?!
Motivation is lacking at this time of year, so as much as I try to keep my calendar nice and empty for some chill out time, I also like to make sure I have some things to look forward to. Cosy dinners with friends, a trip down to Leicester to spend a weekend with Paddy and holiday plans in the diary for next year, too. I’ve just booked a trip to Barcelona in March with the girls from college and I am so excited to finally tick the city off my bucket list. I’ve wanted to go for ages, and I know it’s going to be worth the wait! I’m hoping to squeeze in at least two more trips next year (all whilst saving like crazy, so that might be a little bit ambitious) and have been browsing the Jet2 Holidays website over and over again, dreaming of sunnier shores. Having something in my diary that excites me is the perfect motivation to get me through the blustery weeks that we’re having right now. That, and online shopping for said occasions, of course.
My bed is my one true love (sorry Paddy) and we have quite an intense relationship. I love sleeping, or just being in my bed, so ensuring I get a decent night’s sleep is something I always try my very best to do. I’m not the kind of person who can operate on less than 8 hours of sleep (I blame my health, mostly) so no matter how early my bedtime may need to be, I make a solid effort to get at least eight hours every single night. Getting enough sleep has a massive impact on how I feel, both mentally and physically, so it’s always a top priority for me. Disturb my sleep at your peril, you have been warned. Establishing a good sleep routine is something I quite fancy diving into further in a future post, because it’s something I feel very passionately about and think I’ve turned into an art form, so if you’d like to hear me ramble some more about how much I love sleep then let me know.
If this year has taught me any good habits, it’s paying more attention to what food and drink I put into my body. I’ve got so much better with my diet this year in an attempt to combat my health issues, but it can be quite challenging in the season of comfort food. I will never give up my pasta habit, but I am considerably more conscious of how the things I eat and drink affect my body. As tempting as it may be to drink tea like it’s water, too much caffeine does not do me any good, so I’ve switched to decaf tea for the most part and am trying to drink more fruit tea, too. I find that I get dehydrated a lot easier in the winter, don’t ask me why because I don’t know either, so I have to make sure I’m drinking plenty of water throughout the day to keep headaches at bay. I’d quite happily live off of pizzas and assorted takeaways at this time of year, because who can be bothered cooking after commuting home in the rain and wind, but by keeping my diet in slightly better shape I’m feeling a lot better for it. Still won’t catch me eating any broccoli, though.
The biggest change to my self-care routine this winter, though? Exercise. Yup, I was surprised too. I got so fed up of feeling like I didn’t have any control over my body, and after my accident in August, I was left feeling stupidly weak. In an attempt to conquer this and gain some of my sanity back, I signed up for a 10-week fitness boot camp, and I actually kind of love it? When I get in the habit of it, I genuinely enjoy exercise and find it very cathartic, it’s just finding the motivation to get started that I struggle with. I like the structure of the boot camp, and with my trainers being so accommodating and adapting exercises for my injured shoulder I feel a lot more comfortable than I would if I’d been flying solo. I’m starting to feel like I’m getting a bit of strength back, and I love it. It’s been a game changer for me, mentally and physically, so it’s a habit I want to keep up for the foreseeable future.
So there we have it, some small (ish) changes I’ve been making to help combat the winter blues. Self-care is such a personal thing, and I’m not one to judge how you define your self-care routine, but this is what’s working for me just now. I’m feeling good right now, and optimistic about what the future holds. Particularly travel wise, with a trip to Barcelona on the cards!