One small change I’ve tried to implement in 2018 is setting aside at least a few hours on Sunday evening to unwind. It’s made a big difference in helping me feel recharged and ready to take on a busy week. For the skeptics out there, please know that I fought against self-care for a long time. I saw it as a waste of time and “unnecessary”. Will the 20-year-old Lauren please stand up so I can smack her over the head and tell her everything 30-year-old Lauren has learned since then?
I’m still working on a routine that feel right for me, but I’ve shared some tips and tricks that I’ve recently implemented. I acknowledge that none of these tips are special or unique – there are countless blog posts on the internet that outline similar strategies. However, in case you’re a self-care novice as well, or just find it fascinating to learn more about others, I hope this post inspires you to start your own self-care routine.
Learning the art of saying no
The key to developing a Sunday evening routine is to say no to plans, commitments, or responsibilities that fall on Sunday evening. If you’re actively choosing to make casual plans (i.e. snuggling up with a cup of tea and a movie) that’s totally different than agreeing to go out to dinner or to a cardio fitness class. My cut-off on Sundays is usually no later than 3PM. After that – I’m home, cleaning my room, doing laundry, meal prepping, and starting to wind down.
I am the queen of making plans – and planning in general – so it was a challenge to step back and learn how to say no. Just tonight, I texted a friend to let her know that I needed to take a raincheck on our hangout sesh because I felt really drained. As expected, she completely understood.
Learning to prioritize my own needs is the only way I can make it through a full week or work. It’s also the only way I’m able to show up, fully present, and in a relatively good mood when I’m out with friends. Self-care is how I recharge, and when I don’t make time for it, not only do I suffer, but my social circle also suffers by only getting to see a part of me – not the whole me.
I’ve started listening to the Peaceful Retreat Playlist of Spotify on Sunday evenings to ease into relaxation mode. I also downloaded the Calm Meditations and Sleep Stories App, and have admittedly become addicted to listening to sleep stories as I fall asleep.
Planning for the week ahead
On Sunday evenings, I mentally prepare myself for the week ahead by paging through my planner to see what social events are on the calendar, and whose birthday(s) I need to remember. It only takes about 10 minutes, and it helps me to better anticipate when I’ll need to be “on” for social commitments outside of work, or as a reminder to block off certain evenings to give myself time to recharge. I used to be able to go from one commitment to the next every night of the week. Now, I try to allow myself at least 1 night “off” in-between evening commitments.
I slather lavender essential oils all over my skin as a relaxation technique. I’ve heard anecdotally about the healing power of lavender scent, but I’m still wishy washy when it comes to the “science” of essential oils. Whether the lavender is actually working or it’s all placebo, it’s working!
No screens for at least an hour before bed
Tonight is an exception (ahem), but I normally try to keep my computer off for at least 1 hour before I want to fall asleep. My screen time is replaced by reading, journaling, writing or reading inspirational quotes, or coloring in my adult coloring book. This change is one of my favorites – it’s helped me tremendously – because I’m not feeling overly stimulated right before bed.