The new year can be a tough time for any woman. Talk about pressure! We are bombarded with weight-loss ads, everyone is screaming “new year, new you”, and you are expected to have some massive transformation happen. Sometimes, it’s just another day and you’ve got nothing profound to say. That is where I found myself on January 1st, 2020.
It was in 2019 that I learned the real meaning of “self-care”. I turned 40 in May — then I lost my father unexpectedly at the end of June. Talk about a double-whammy. Many wonderful things happened last year too, but the grief of losing a parent along with saying bye-bye to my youth overshadowed much of it. So I had to find new ways to not only support and feel my feelings but to also explore things outside of myself that brought me joy. Today I want to share with you some out-of-the-box ideas of what self-care can look like — it’s not just bath bombs and massages.
Volunteer at an animal shelter or sanctuary
It’s funny how this works, but one of the best ways to help yourself is to do something nice for others. Have you considered volunteering at a farm sanctuary or a local animal shelter? It will bring you all kinds of warm fuzzy feelings, but will also help those in need. Many animal shelters let you volunteer to do things like feeding and cleaning, but also taking dogs on walks. Get some fresh air and puppy kisses to take your mind off stressful times. Perhaps you could take it a step further and foster an animal. I couldn’t do that in 2019, but you can bet it’s on the top of my goals list for 2020! There’s nothing like the love and snuggles of a companion pet.
I must admit that I don’t often treat myself to things like beauty care, shopping, or little gifts. Many years ago I became a minimalist, so these sort of self-care things just fell away. Last year I had to reacquaint myself with the idea that it’s okay to spend money on myself. Ladies, don’t wait till you’re 40 to take care of your skin! No matter what your age, consider keeping your skin healthy with occasional treatments like a micro-needling facial or full-body exfoliation. While I haven’t considered dermal fillers yet, it’s nice to know there are safe options out there if I change my mind.
Learn something new
This is one of my favourite self-care ideas because I love learning new things. But also, after losing my dad, I had to take a hard look at the fact that there is no guarantee of tomorrow. Have you always dreamed of taking a burlesque dance class, giving improv comedy a whirl or learning how to rock climb? Or maybe you want to emigrate to a new country where you don’t know the language like I did? Not so much? Whatever it is — this is the year to go for it. Even if you suck, it will give your confidence a boost because you weren’t scared to try. Courage is the new black.
Cook for friends or host a party
I realise this next self-care tip will be counterintuitive for those of you who are introverts. But for someone like me, who is an extrovert — and gets so much joy out of cooking for others — I had to add it to the list. Grief can send you down a hole of despair, causing you to push people away. I feel the best way to get out of that hole is to surround yourself with friends and loved ones. Host a party to get them all together so you can feel the love. What I do is pick a theme for the party, and then make it “potluck” style where everyone brings a dish to share. This way, I’m not overwhelmed making all the food myself and taking on all the responsibility.
Talk to someone
Last but not least, if you are feeling overwhelmed with anything in life, whether it be grief or stress, it doesn’t hurt to talk to a professional. I thought I could handle everything on my own in my 20s and early 30s, but really I just built walls around me. I also had past childhood trauma that I never faced, so life got better when I started therapy. Find someone you trust and be open to the beauty of therapy.
Bio: Christy Morgan is a vegan chef, yoga teacher, personal trainer, and author who writes openly and honestly about all the things she loves. She helps people find their bliss with plant-based food and finding their connection between mind and body. You can join her wellness retreats in Portugal.