Summer is a great time to reflect on how the first half of my year has gone. As I’ve been thinking about my lifestyle and pace of life over the last few months, it quickly became apparent to me how much I needed to hit that ‘reset’ button; to take a moment to pause and re-prioritise my life. So at the start of this summer, I made space to think about forming new rhythms that were best suited to me and my lifestyle. And FRIENDS, I can already see the results from following it the last couple of months!
If you’re looking to hit ‘reset’ on your life too, and are craving a rhythm of self-care this summer, then check out these 5 helpful tips to add to your own routine.
Organise + declutter
Now I don’t mean to jump on the Marie Kondo bandwagon here, but I cannot tell you enough how much lighter I feel after a good summer sweep through my closet. Whether it’s re-organising my wardrobe (I like to remove all of my winter pieces like sweaters and scarves and store them away in our guest room dresser to make room for flowy maxi dresses and sandals) or decluttering my vanity of old makeup and expired body lotions; one thing is certain – cleaning and clearing out gives me more mental clarity. In fact, one of the ways I manage my anxiety is by decluttering my flat once every 3 months. I just less stressed with less stuff kicking around! Ridding your home from clutter might feel like a monumental task that you don’t know where to begin. So for starters, why not focus your attention on just one room per month? Before you know it, you’ll have a simpler space.
Nail your workout
Strangely January is the most popular month of the year to join a gym, but I can’t imagine a worse month to challenge my body! Especially in Scotland, when the sky is dark and weather is wintry, I would much rather done my sweats and hide under the cover with a new episode of Gossip Girl than walk 10 minutes outside in the cold to the gym. Call me lazy but I’m just keeping it real with you. Instead, I feel that summer is the right time of year to set healthy goals. After injuring my back last winter, it took me a long time to get back into a workout routine that was sustainable and convenient for my already busy schedule. My biggest excuse was that I didn’t have the time to workout regularly but I know that I was just full of it. I spent some time figuring out what was both enjoyable and safe for my body (plie squats instead of dead lifts and cross-trainer instead of the bike) and built a routine around that. I realised that exercise could not be just another trendy fad for me but an actual lifestyle choice. Just like washing your face or cooking dinner – it had to become a part of my daily routine if it was going to stick. And guys, I discovered Joe Wicks’ HIIT workouts and they are golden. You feel like you’re going to die after the 20 minutes but you must give them a go!
I know I sound like a broken record but finally nailing my workout routine where I’ve committed to exercising several times a week (for me this is 4 but it may be something different for you!) has noticeably improved my sleep and stress levels. Plus, I’m feeling a lot healthier in my sense of self and stronger in my body, so I think that’s a win-win.
Fuel your body with the right things
You know the phrase ‘You are what you eat’? This really hit home for me last year when I was suffering with IBS-related symptoms. A lot of the foods I was eating – chocolate, caffeine, bread, cheese – was causing me a lot of uncomfortable symptoms (I’ll spare you the details!) I started to keep a food diary (although I found this really difficult because I often forgot to log snacks or would miss out days completely!) and tried my best to record everything I was putting into my body. Slowly, I started to decrease my intake of my ‘trigger’ foods like bread, for example, and quickly noticed a change. I still struggle with regulating my caffeine intake (mainly because I love coffee so much!) but these days I’m trying to experiment more with decaf. In the end, it’s all about balance. It’s not as if I will never dig into a cheese board ever again (I’m not savage); its more that I try to eat these things less frequently and enjoy them on an occasional basis.
Lately, I have also been delving into the world of herbal remedies. Hello, elderberry syrup! I used to be such a sceptic of these sorts of products (queue the eye-roll). But once I discovered a regiment of natural remedies that worked for me and my body, it didn’t take me long until I became a firm believer in homeopathic medicine. The first few months of 2019 had me feeling tired all the time and susceptible to picking up viruses here and there (I blame air plane travel); but nonetheless, I was advised to look to herbal supplements as a first port of call to address my weak immune system. After just a couple of months, I noticed a huge difference: increased energy levels, better sleep and almost zero tummy troubles. For me, my go-to’s were a wholefood multivitamin, elderberry syrup, vitamin D tablets (for those darker winter months) probiotics and a course of echinacea (for when you’re feeling a cold coming on).
… Makeup that is! So this one is more for the guys, I’ll hand it to you, but summer is the time to take your beauty routine a bit more casually. Less makeup, less hair product, less clothing dare I say. This summer, I’ve tried to embrace my natural skin more and wear less foundation. As someone who struggles with adult acne, this was a big step for me. Instead of choosing maximum coverage, I’m opting for a more sheer tinted moisturiser (the Clinique CC cream is my fave right now!). The same goes for hair-care. I’ve been putting my hairdryer down and letting my locks dry naturally. If you’re not into the whole au natural look, I get it. I wasn’t at first, either. But lately I’ve been personally challenged about the amount of time I spent covering my face out of insecurity and am steadily choosing to love my bare skin and all its imperfect flaws. I don’t want to make generalisations here, but I think embracing our natural beauty is difficult for us American girls in a culture that strives for flawless faces and perfectly toned bodies; but I’m determined to not let myself fall into the mindset that says, “Your value as a human being is defined by your appearance”.
Sometimes, for these truths to sink deep down into our hearts, we have to take very practical and physical steps in our lives. For me, this simply looks like scaling back on the make-up and speaking life over myself when I look in the mirror. Repeat after me: “You are beautiful, with or without makeup on”.
When we get sucked into the monotony of our daily routine, it’s easy to lose perspective. As someone who is not a ‘big picture person’, take it from me. If you ask me about how my week is going, my answers could go a number of different ways depending upon what day of the week you asked me. More recently, I’ve been challenged to ‘look up’ amidst my daily hustle and bustle. Whether it was the advert serendipitously sprawled across the side of the bus I took to work last week or the theme of yesterday’s devotional, as someone who is largely guided by their faith; I figured it was God’s way of telling me to stop, pause and remember the picture bigger. To keep my eyes focused on God’s plan. After all, his ways are higher than mine.
So this summer, pause. Take a deep breath. Look up. Notice the ornate architecture of the tall buildings you walk by every day on your morning commute. Or the pastel blue sky. Look out on the horizon. That is your future; not all of the little things in your life that would keep you bogged down. Look up and remember that there is more to this life than what you give of yourself each day at work. That you are magic. That you are valuable and worth knowing. That it’s okay to stop every once and a while to appreciate the small things. That it’s okay to prioritise your self-care. Look up and soak up the glorious promise of another day.