A few weeks ago I posted an out of office notice on my email. This is the third out of office notification I've set since I launched the brand. This was the first out of office email I set where I wasn't away, I was still in Toronto and technically, still able to answer emails and be in communication. But after a few crazy weeks I knew I needed a day off, not just a Saturday or Sunday, but a full day off to myself to recharge and centre myself. Aka, I needed a self care day.
As you can see by the definition, this is not care recommended by a professional, but rather by listening to your body and giving it what it needs. This is a process, trust me it doesn't happen over night, but by spending time alone, listening to what you're feeling and trying to understand why you feel a certain way is the first step in self care. Other people wont be able to tell you what you need but you'll have to learn it for yourself.
I knew I was burning out, that I wasn't as motivated or inspired by the things I used to be and that I wasn't the best version of myself. Knowing that led me to making the decision to put aside work and responsibilities for the day, allowing me to put my mental health first. A self care day is different for everyone, for some it may be staying at home all day and for others it'll be taking a day trip to see something new. For me, it was treating myself to things I truly enjoy without putting time constraints on where and when I needed to be somewhere.
I started my day with a solo brunch at one of my favourite spots, Baddies. I often don't make it there as it's not super convenient to get to on a jam packed weekend. I indulged in a lovely breakfast along with my go-to almond matcha latte. From there I headed to get a manicure and pedicure at The Ten Spot. I normally get a gel manicure but of course, I schedule it in and don't allow myself to really sit back and relax. Getting both a manicure and pedicure was beyond delightful, I actually think I fell asleep at one point. From there I wandered along Queen West popping into my favourite shops, just for the sake of. Again, this is not a luxury I normally have. When it comes to shopping, I almost only shop online due to lack of free time. From there I made a delicious salad, packed it up and headed to a friends house that offered a backyard and pool. This was before we had the recent resurgence of summer and I truly thought it was the last vitamin D I would get. So it felt amazing. Even in the midst of this heat, looking back it was still such a great time in the sun. I spent the remainder of the afternoon lounging by the pool and not looking at my phone, which was hard and weird for the first half of the day but by this time I was really starting to adjust to it. To cap the day off I ate some delicious Pho near my home, a meal I'm craving more often than not and called it an early night with a bottle of sparkling water and Netflix. Yes, sparkling water in bed - definitely not your typical Friday night but let me tell you, did it ever feel amazing.
After this lovely day of self care I had a few realizations. The first being, self care is not a selfish act; putting yourself first isn't neglecting others, but preparing yourself to be a better person for yourself and in turn, for others. The second is that I shouldn't feel guilty for taking care of myself. We live in a world where everyone takes pride in saying how busy they are, it's almost a competition of who is doing more and sleeping less. Why did this start? What purpose does this race serve? I always felt guilty taking time off, leaving early or not being glued to my phone but I realized that was not how I truly felt but rather pressure from society. Putting myself first and taking time to care for myself is not something I should feel guilty for and I'm taking back my right to a break. The last and most important thing I realized is that this needs to become a more regular thing. No it doesn't need to be a monthly excuse for a day off, but rather a reason to stay connected with my mind and body, listening to it and respecting it when it needs a break. The world did not stop, my business did not fall apart and most importantly, my overall health didn't suffer when I stepped back.
This day off was a good lesson, not only for self care but for personal growth. I highly recommend each and every one of you take a day or at the very least half a day to focus on self care. If you can't take a day off work, set aside half a day on the weekend where you don't commit to being somewhere or doing something with others. Set this time aside to be with yourself, find your own joy and find peace in who you are. And make self care a habit, rather than a second thought.