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Self-care. It’s probably a phrase you’ve heard (and ignored) more than ever this year. But it’s not just about bath bombs and inspirational quotes from 19th-century poets. Self-care is a process that each of us can use to be kinder to ourselves, whether that means putting aside time to invest in hobbies, stepping away from screens for an evening each week, or chilling on the sofa half-watching Netflix while you scroll through Instagram after a busy day at work.
However self-care looks for you (and we’re not here to judge) the point is that it should be mindful and not forced – where’s the care in that? Just in case you, like us, need some inspiration to help you kickstart your new self-care routine, we asked our stylists to share their top tips for taking better care of themselves this year, and the simple steps they’re going to take to adapt their routine for the better.
The new year often means making – and inevitably breaking – resolutions around exercise. If you’re one of the 43% of people who expect to give up on their resolutions within a month, it’s likely because you’ve picked something you feel you should do, but don’t really want to.
“Forcing yourself to do something every day isn’t good for you, even if that thing is meant to have positive effects,” says stylist Toby Standing. “I started running this year, and although I’d tried the gym and other things, I always ended up quitting. The biggest thing for me was finding the right kind of exercise that I consistently enjoy doing.”
If you find something you love, you’ll want to do it, whereas if you set yourself up to fail, you’ll end up feeling bad when the inevitable happens. Committing to more relaxed resolutions like trying different types of exercise and discovering the right workout for you is an act of self-care, and it’s far more likely to work.
“Being able to go outside was a big factor in my search for the right exercise – especially in lockdown,” Toby says. “As soon as I’d got through the barrier of dragging myself out for a run, I found I really wanted to go and didn’t have to force myself for long.” You can even make investments in your hobby, like an AppleWatch or technical gear that can alter your mindset into taking your workout more seriously.
The perks of finding the right exercise go beyond the vanity of seeing improvements to your physical image. Sticking to a routine, developing a hobby, proven mental health benefits, and the satisfaction of watching yourself get better at whatever exercise you choose are all big results when it comes to self-care. “Getting into running made me look at my health more holistically,” Toby says. “I’ve got a seriously sweet tooth, which isn’t going to change, but running made me want to eat better, which made me better at running, which made me want to continue eating that way.”
“It’s strange how the pandemic has prompted people to reconnect,” says stylist Artemis Crowley. “And I’ve enjoyed getting back in touch with people who I don’t often see in ‘real’ life.” How many of us have cited Zoom fatigue and dreaded joining a family quiz or a catch up with old friends, only to stay on the call hours longer than you imagined before retiring to bed with a warm fuzzy feeling?
One of the few positives of 2020 was being forced to socialise remotely, which led many of us to get in touch with people who we may not have spoken to, or seen in person, for years.
The purpose, of course, was an underlying desire to check in, see how everyone was coping, and offer support, but taking the time to socialise – even in the strangest or least-ideal of circumstances – is a true act of self-care.
But since we’ve got into the habit of catching up with long-lost friends over Zoom, why not keep it up in the new year? It’s great to feel like there’s more people around you in a time that can otherwise feel lonely. Plus, it’s contributing to the care of others as well as yourself.
Between working from home, checking the news, socialising via Zoom, and bingeing Netflix we’ve probably spent more time than ever staring at screens this year. “Even if you watch movies or TV to relax, finding that taking the time to read or go for a walk to a new place makes all the difference to brain-fog – especially after a year spent mostly at home,” says stylist Millie Rich, “And it’s a habit I’m hoping to carry in to the new year.”
We’re not on the anti-screens bandwagon – there are plenty of positive and useful reasons to be looking at your phone or computer or TV – but, like anything that’s been forced upon us, fatigue can grow when you don’t take a step back. So if you work on a computer all day, you might find your productivity drops if you also spend your evenings and weekends in the same place staring at the same things.
Head outside for two hours, find a good book to read, or pick up an offline hobby you can do at home when the winter cold makes walks feel less inviting. You’ll appreciate it come Monday morning.
“As you’ve probably heard time and time again, sleep is the most important thing to ensure we’re looking and feeling fresh,” says stylist Izzy Harvey. “This year, like many of us, I’ve found it increasingly hard to stop my mind whirring when my head hits the pillow, and sleep meditations have been a real life-saver.”
Working from home has led many of us to realise that our commutes aren’t always such a bad thing. Sure, they’re not the thing anybody is most looking forward to about returning to normality, but the chance to pep yourself up in the morning and detach from work-mode in the evening has a big impact on our state of mind. When that’s missing, it means you can go full days without leaving the house.
Taking a five minute step outside for a coffee or a walk before and after work can be a great way to break things up, but if the pandemic has you struggling with your sleep patterns, some easy meditative practises – don’t worry, we’re not preaching a full mindfulness lifestyle – could help you ease into dreamland a little more comfortably.
“It’s been amazing to see how useful our own breath can be as a tool to calm our nervous system – day or night,” Izzy says. “There are a bunch of great apps and podcasts out there, and I recommend investing in essential oils to help destress and relax.”
In 2021, I’m keen to do things I said I would do, but haven’t got around to doing,” says stylist Freddie Kemp. “In fact, I’ve just bought a vintage 1974 Harley Davidson motorcycle. I’ve wanted to do it forever, and I finally did it.”
In 2020, we fell into two camps: those who took on a new hobby every weekend, and those who stuck to what we knew and spent more time indulging our past passions. But if there was something lingering in the back of your mind that you just never took the plunge into, make this the year you finally commit.
Spending more time investing in your hobbies – and in turn in on yourself – officially counts as self-care. No matter how big or small the hobby is, if you feel the desire and have even the smallest inkling that you might regret not trying it, you should go for it. In a world where we’re told our time should be lucrative, there’s nothing more rewarding than dedicating hours to ourselves and the things we truly enjoy doing.
“I know nothing about motorbikes, but I’ve always had an interest in owning one,” Freddie says. “It’s not the easiest or cheapest hobby to take on with no experience, but I needed to take that first step so there’s no going back or putting it off any longer.”
Words: Ella White
Illustration: Darren Shaddick
Styling: Artemis Crowley, Izzy Harvey, Millie Rich, Toby Standing, Freddie Kemp
Meet the small brands our stylists are standing behind this season
Kick off 2021 with a set of resolutions that will benefit you, your wardrobe, and your wallet