MY SELF CARE ROUTINE & TIPS

There are certain self-care habits I have developed over the years that have helped me to overcome my mental health struggles, and keep me feeling like myself. These habits fuel my good days, while keeping me from sinking too low on my bad days. I have come to the realisation that I must prioritise taking care of myself every day, otherwise I just can't function properly. I am a human being who has basic needs and routines. If those needs and routines aren't met or kept, then things can quite quickly slip out of place, resulting in feeling mentally and physically drained. I have learnt how to maintain good physical and mental health through these self-care practices, while arming myself with the tools to better deal with the inevitable down days and curve-balls life throws at me. Putting myself first, making routine a priority, and practising regular self-care habits has honestly kept my sanity. The longer I practice self-love and self-care, the better I get at dealing with the voice in my brain telling me I'm not good enough, and listening to my body's needs.

Don't allow yourself to slip into the mindset that you don't need to be taken care of, that you're not worth it, or that others need to be taken care of more than you do. Because the reality is, you do need to be taken care of, you are worth it, and you can't look after others if you aren't looking after yourself first. And let me be the first to tell you, sometimes these habits aren't easy. Sometimes they're absolutely the last thing you want to do. But its overcoming that voice in your head, and taking one step in the right direction that makes it easier and easier each time. So if you're realising that you're not taking care of yourself like you should, hopefully some of these habits and tips will give you ideas for what you can start doing each day to show yourself some well-deserved love. 

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1. getting some shut-eye

Sleep is one the biggest things that people neglect today, but it has one of the biggest impacts on how we feel, physically and mentally. I know that if I don't get a good night's sleep, I just can't function properly the next day. I'm really a big baby if I don't get my naps or my sleep! So if I am feeling grumpy, there is usually one of a few basic reasons why: either I'm hungry, cold, or I'm tired. When I realise that my basic needs as a human being aren't being met, I can therefore easily tackle the thing that I am neglecting. If I'm tired, then I choose to listen to that by taking a nap, going to bed early, having a lie-in, or just switching off and resting. It's important to notice when you're feeling tired and run-down, and listen to your body by getting some decent shut-eye.  

2. pampering myself

I absolutely love treating myself to an at-home pamper session. I try to do this most days because it leaves me feeling fresh and ready for the day. As I don't like wearing a lot of makeup, taking care of my skin, hair and body really is an act of self-love. My current favourite way to do this is using my Vanity Planet spin brush. It gently exfoliates my skin, removing any dirt or excess makeup, and kind of feels like I'm treating myself to a mini at-home spa session. I like to apply my cleanser and then wash my face using the facial brush instead of my fingers. The brush comes with multiple heads for different uses, making it super versatile. There is one for exfoliation, one for your body, a pumice stone, and a cleansing brush (which is my favourite). I have definitely noticed a difference in the feeling and appearance of my skin since using it, plus it makes me feel beautiful and glowing. They have kindly offered my readers a 70% off code if you would like to grab yourself one, when you use the code "maddiespin" at checkout - get pampering!

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3. going outside

I make it a top priority to get outdoors first thing in the morning. Because I work from home, I can become a little bit of a hermit. It's therefore so important that I get outdoors and breathe in some fresh air. Every morning after the gym, I walk across the beach, look at the sea, listen to the birds, smell the water, and take in everything around me. This daily habit brings me back down to earth and reminds me of how beautiful the world is, how lucky I am to be living on it, and how insignificant any problems I'm currently facing really are. Whatever may be bothering me is almost always shunned away when I am in nature, empowering me to feel like I can tackle anything that is thrown at me that day.

4. moving my body

I have always loved physical activity, getting outside and moving my body. It really plays a huge part in how I feel day-to-day. And if I am not exercising regularly, my mental health diminishes. I therefore love my routine of waking up in the morning, going to the gym (or for a run or bike ride outside) to get those endorphins pumping, and take time just for me. I am left feeling positive, excited, motivated and ready to conquer the day. It truly feels like meditation for me to switch off from the world and my responsibilities, just for that small pocket of time in my mornings.

And I know that many of us have experienced negativity surrounding exercise, feeling under pressure to exercise to lose weight or to change how we look. But I have chosen to change the way that I see exercise - as a way to take care of my physical and mental health, as opposed to lose weight, or reach an unattainable goal. This switch in mindset has empowered how I feel, made me feel more motivated to exercise than I ever have done before, fuelled my strength in my workouts, and made me feel like a total badass. So if it isn't currently in your routine, start small and add some movement into your day - whether that's walking, doing some light yoga, strength-training, or whatever you enjoy! Get sweaty and feel strong. Let go of the fear or pressure that the diet and fitness industries have created, and do it because it makes you feel good. And if you keep it up, hopefully you'll experience how much it can improve your overall mental well-being. 

5. making a special dish 

Food has a very special place in my heart, as you probably already know based on all of my recipe videos! I absolutely love cooking and, of course, I love to eat. And I don't know about you, but if I am feeling sensitive, or have had a bad day, I will often crave a certain type of food. For example, maybe I'll fancy some chocolate or cookies, or I'll have an urge for a specific meal for dinner. In these instances I really enjoy the process of baking that cookie, or making that special meal. Not only is cooking one of my favourite ways to wind down, but it's a real treat to sit and take pleasure in that special meal or snack you've made for yourself. After all, enjoying food is one of the best parts of life, right?

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6. blasting some music

I am a huge music lover - I listen to it all day every day. And it really is my therapy, like I know it is for many. Singing along to my favourite Disney theme, Ariana Grande tune, or Jeff Buckley ballad is really my way of letting go of any emotions I am feeling. It's my way of processing emotions and expressing them, while switching my brain off from the world. 

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7. breathe

I know you've probably heard it before whenever anyone mentions self-care or mental health, but meditation is honestly a game changer. And it doesn't have to be as intimidating as it sounds, it can just be a matter of taking the time to stop, and breathe. We spend so much of our day in go, go, go mode, that we often don't stop for even 30 seconds of our day to just do nothing. Taking this time to stop, breathe, focus, and let go of your thoughts, ironically gives me more time in my day to be productive, thoughtful, energetic and capable.

I really like using the app Headspace for guided meditation. But more often than not, I simply stop on my walk home from the gym, stand or sit on the beach, close my eyes and focus on my breath, listen to the sounds around me, acknowledge the thoughts that come into my head, and just let them pass. As someone who is always rushing, thinking and jumping ahead to what needs to be done next, taking just those few moments out to let everything pass by is probably one of the most powerful moments in my day. Some days, I really don't want to do it and just want to go the quick way home and get started with my day - but it is on those days that I need it the most, and I remind myself of this by taking that step in the right direction, walking to the beach, stopping and taking that time out for me, and my brain. This tiny moment of my day is a small drop in the ocean, but it has a huge ripple effect on the rest of my life. 

8. time away from your phone 

It's 2018, and we're all suckers for being addicted to our phones. You're maybe even on your phone right now, reading this blog post! But I recommend that after reading this, you put your phone away, and spend some time offline. This year I have been attempting to leave my phone out of the bedroom at night time. It has really improved my sleep, the amount of books I am reading, and time with my partner, and has enabled me to switch off from the online world when I'm winding down. I tend to fall asleep a lot easier and earlier, get a more restful sleep, and therefore feel a lot better the next day. It's incredible the impact mindlessly scrolling and looking at a screen can have on your mentality before bed, so I would highly recommend you give it a go. 

9. getting cosy

I am a super cosy person. I love to feel snuggly in a jumper, wearing some slippers, with a hot water bottle on my stomach and a cup of tea in my hand. Even thinking about that makes me feel calm. So if I am feeling a little fragile, I know making myself feel cosy will immediately relax me and boost my mood. Cosiness for me is lighting candles, making myself a cup of decaf earl grey tea, snuggling on the sofa in a dressing gown, and putting on a happy movie or show. I do this ritual far more often than I'd like to admit, but I need a lot of cosiness in my life!

10. talking about it

My final tip on this list is to not be afraid to talk about it. As humans, we like to do this thing where we pretend that we're OK. We don't tell people when we're feeling crap. They say "how are you?", and you reply "I'm fine" as a default. They ask "Is this fine?", and you come back with "Sure!" when, deep down, it really isn't. Don't be afraid to say so. Communicate how you feel, talk to people, and reach out to people in your life who are there for you. Funnily enough, having a YouTube channel has been the best outlet and therapy for me to grow as a person and express my thoughts and feelings. I have been able to open up and talk about things I struggle with to other people in my real life. It's made me realise that being open and vulnerable has so many positive rewards for my mental health and well-being. Talking about our feelings is one of the best ways to overcome and process them. It's so normal for us to keep things in, pretend that we're OK and get on with life. But it is liberating when you're going through something, to be honest and open about it with the people you love and trust. Often they'll have been through something similar and can offer you words of advice, or at the very least, be a listening ear. 

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Self-care isn't something that I will only do on the odd occasion, or when I'm feeling low. Self-care is something I push myself to practise every day, to maintain good mental health. These habits have slowly helped me overcome many of my mental health problems, and the longer I practise them, the better I get at dealing with life. The more confident I feel in myself, the more sure I feel of who I am, what I'm doing and why. It has truly changed my outlook and how I experience the world. So if you've not been taking care of your body and mind, realise that you're worth taking the time out of your day to prioritise self-care. In my personal experience, once I made self-love my number one, everything else started to fall into place.