CREATING CALM

Thursday is a good day for me.

For one thing, Thursday is payday, which is enough to give anyone a little spring in their step. It's also the day that My Favorite Murder, my beloved true-crime-meets-comedy podcast, posts a new episode. But aside from all that, Thursdays (when I have them off) are the days in which I regain some of my sanity.

I've never really shied away from talking about my issues with anxiety and depression, and while dealing with mental illness is an ongoing struggle and likely will follow me in some way for the rest of my life, I've learned over the years to find healthy coping mechanisms. That's where Thursday comes in.

I've got a candle obsession.

Thursday (or really, any weekday where I have the full day to myself, free from work or any pressing deadlines) is the day I put myself back together again. It's emotional catch-up day. In the mornings and afternoon, I busy myself with boring yet necessary tasks. Iced coffee is grabbed from the café downstairs before multiple loads of laundry get washed, hung to dry, folded and put away. Floors are swept, the bathtub scrubbed, the fridge is cleaned out, shelves dusted, trash is curbed. I make the bed.

I shower, I do a hair mask, I exfoliate and lotion and preen myself into squeaky-clean bliss. I try to eat fruit and drink plenty of water. Sometimes, once the cleaning is done and one of my various podcasts is still going, I'll do pilates for a bit, or maybe just stretch and hear the cracks in my back pop, knots of the previous days' stress dissipating.

Freshly made bed, a favourite book, and a happy TK Maxx find: Elizabeth Arden's Sunflowers eau de toilette for £6.99. Bottled nostalgia.

It's all very routine. Days like this happen every few weeks, usually after periods of long work days and nights of low-quality sleep. My life seems to be full of patterns. I go through periods of ignoring my needs, of letting clutter accumulate, whether it's in my house or in my mind. Thursdays aren't just for tidying my space, but for sweeping out the cobwebs in my brain, for bleaching out the stains of worry. It's a time to say goodbye and good riddance to any recent social anxieties or pools of sadness that have accumulated, usually for no reason at all other than my brain's biological leanings towards bleakness. 

Some plucked lavender from my evening walk and a room spray in one of my favourite scents. Not sure why they've translated the French to "lime blossom" but eh, what can ya do?

And while these little routines may seem small to some people, they are massively important to me, particularly when I look back on how I used to live. In the early years of my 20s, I treated my home and myself with such a disregard. I let my bedrooms fill up with useless objects I had no use for, no connection to. Cleaning irritated me and felt like an annoying, nagging chore. But now, after purging the majority of my belongings a year ago in order to move to London, keeping everything clean and organized not only makes me feel more at home and at peace, but helps me organize my thoughts, too.

So, after all of the cleaning is done, and dinnertime starts to approach, I head out into my neighbourhood for my evening stroll. I usually pass a lavender bush and pluck a few flowers, inhaling the calming scent as I walk. Most of the time I end up at TK Maxx, the bargain lover's paradise. The majority of my purchases involve candles, Korean sheet masks and Turkish delight or dark chocolate. Then I might pick up some inexpensive flowers from M&S before taking myself to dinner, usually ramen.

An attempt at healthiness via a fruit bowl, and not-so-healthiness via ramen.

When I was younger, dining alone used to freak me out. I would think the host was judging me when I requested a table for one. But I've since realized that nobody gives a shit, and I can enjoy my food much more sitting alone, reading, people-watching or simply enjoying the company of my best friend: me.

I know so many people throw around the term "self care" these days, and those two words carry a different meaning for everyone. But to me, it's a concept I'm continuously shaping and understanding. It's building routines. It's taking care of my body, my mind, my home. It's finding a balance between necessity and frivolity. What self care looks like to me might cause someone else to turn their nose up, but hey, that's why it's called "self" care. It's for myself, and myself alone, to enjoy and be nourished by. 

In a world where so much of our perceived value is based on how hard we bust our asses just to get by, the simple act of being indulgent and selfish for a day can be one of the healthiest choices we make. 

As I write this, my Thursday is coming to an end. I'm going to slap on my May Lindstrom Problem Solver face mask, eat another square of sea salt dark chocolate, rewatch a few episodes of Twin Peaks and fall asleep knowing that I've taken care of myself. I deserve it, and so do you.