Today I’m starting a brand new series! This month I’m refocusing the blog back to the reasons I started it; to help me deal with losing my Mum and other things I was dealing with, and to let others going through stuff know they’re not alone. To mark this I’ve changed the name from ‘The Smile Diary’ to Your Book Begins. Now I’m unveiling my first post series, Self Care Sundays:
I’ve always wanted to offer some practical ideas for improving your well-being. I talk a lot about my personal experiences and share things I’ve learnt on my journey, but I realise a lot of it isn’t translatable when looking for tips/motivation on your own self development journey. It’s like the type of books I hate. You know, self-help books with a lot of guff about how the author (and their numerous clients) have had their lives changed by this new way of thinking, but not a lot about how to actually implement it yourself. Not wanting this blog to go down that route I spent some time thinking about what I can offer to actually help you. Now I’m no expert, and I don’t claim to have all the answers. In fact the things I’m talking about may not even work for you, and that’s ok. I’m not trying to tell you what to do, merely offer some suggestions, along with personal anecdotes to show how they’ve worked for me.
So as you’ve probably gathered this series is going to offer ideas for self care, and I’ll be publishing it every Sunday.
I chose Sunday for two reasons. The first is that it alliterates nicely, and secondly Sunday is traditionally the day of rest/recuperation/roast dinners. If you take some time for yourself on Sunday it can help set you up for the week ahead, and clear your mind of anything lingering from the one just passed. So without further rambling, here’s my first self care idea.
I know, nothing revolutionary here. Most of us know that going for a walk can help when you’re in a mood, stressed out, or tired after a busy week of work. It’s not a new idea to go outside and stroll for half an hour, but I think doing it with intention can really add to the experience. This morning I went out at 8.20. I’d already been awake for nearly an hour, and with a fresh face (that means no makeup – eek) and music playing I headed to the local park. I’m very lucky to live less than 10 minutes from Avenham park, which is a huge beautiful park on the river in the centre of Preston. Now that I’ve been here for a few months I’m getting used to the area and feel comfortable going out for trips on my own and exploring.
Even if you don’t have a park nearby, it can help to pick a specific place to walk to.
Perhaps the local shops, or a friends’ house, or even just around a few streets surrounding your home. It’s good to go out and not have a plan, but I find for the purposes of a self-care orientated walk it’s good to have at least a vague idea of where you’re going so you don’t get totally lost! Recently I went to the same park and walked around bits I’d never been to before, so it was still an adventure but I knew I’d be able to find my way home afterwards.
Something which I love doing is creating playlists – a walk is the perfect opportunity to make a new one.
I choose songs based on my mood, and how I want to feel at the end of the walk. Do I have some tough things to think about? A slower, more emotional playlist might be right. Wanting to feel energized to tackle the rest of the day? Upbeat, happy tunes will help. I used to have about a million playlists on iTunes before my iPod unceremoniously died. If you don’t feel like listening to music how about an audio book? Audible offer a free credit when you sign up to their service (I am in no way being sponsored, endorsed, or compensated by them I’m just sharing a personal recommendation!) In fact, after a few minutes of my walk I decided to switch it up and do something different than just listening to music.
I’ve had the Headspace app on my phone for ages but not got around to using it.
One of my goals for April (I’m gonna write more about my goals/plans for the month next week) is to be more mindful and try out meditation. Since J was still snoring in bed (it was crazy early especially for a Sunday!) I didn’t want to disturb him at home, so the park seemed like a great place to give meditation a try. I opened the app and watched the super adorable animation before being guided in a 10 minute meditation. I sat on a bench near the back of the park and let myself breathe, listen, and notice my body. The ten minutes went really quickly, and afterwards I felt more centred and positive. It’s crazy how just taking a pause can change your day. After the exercise ended I stayed on the bench for a minute or two, then began walking around the park again. The views were great, it’s really a lovely park, but what I found even more interesting was noticing the little things. I took a few pictures of stuff that stood out to me:
I thought this sign to show cyclists where to go was actually quite pretty. It blends in with the environment, and drew my eye to the flowers next to it too.
This section of the park has lots of rocks built into walls and a little tunnel/archway sort of thing. There are little lights on the ground that change colour and make cool shadows and patterns. I stayed here for a little while taking pictures as I really liked it.
This path sort of looks like a snail’s shell!?
Some of the things I noticed might seem kind of silly, but focusing in on little details around you really helps calm your mind.
I wasn’t really thinking about what I needed to do later on, or about the things that have been bugging me recently. I was just immersed in nature, and taking in the moment. On the way back home I opened Audible and started listening to The Miracle Morning – which is really exciting me. I’ll be writing more about that soon.
For now I’ll leave you with a challenge:
Go on a 20 minute walk some time this week. Use the time to think, reflect, meditate, or simply take in nature. Please do come back and let me know how it goes in the comments, or on Twitter too!
Have a great day,