Self-Care Diaries: How I Look After My Mental Health in a Week
POPSUGAR Australia has partnered with New Balance to help you find time for self-care in your daily life, and help you achieve your goals. We want you to run because it makes you feel good.
Looking after your mental health can feel like a full-time job. Add that on top of your actual full-time job, and finding the time to prioritise your mental wellbeing can seem like a marathon that truly never ends.
The past two years have been a ~journey~ for me. I find the concept of self-care to be overwhelming. Whether it’s the constant bombardment of aesthetic morning routines and expensive wellness tricks (that I’m sure are lovely but are also out of my budget), finding the time — and the best way — to take care of myself can feel difficult.
At 30, I’ve realised that doing little self-care things every day — like slipping on my oversized Spice Girls jumper or taking my dog for a walk — that spark joy and quite literally make me feel cared for, are what make all the difference. Here are all the little things I did last week to take care of my mental health.
Monday morning rolls around and, I won’t lie to you, I just want to stay in bed. Alas, it’s time to get up and take my dog outside for a little walk (he’s very cute, so it helps). During the Great Lockdown of 2021, my partner and I got into the habit of going for morning walks before work every weekday, and this is one thing we still try to do at least a couple of days a week. Some days, we meander around our local area for half an hour and pick up a coffee along the route. Then, on other days, we go for a more serious walk; sliding on our runners and walking at a faster pace, so we feel a bit puffed.
Our morning walks always leave me feeling ready for the day, mostly because I enjoy the time catching up with my partner, while laughing at our cute puppy, and feeling like I’ve accomplished a task (exercising) so early in the day.
Tuesdays are my first day in the office for the week, which means walking to and from the station and trying to dodge the humidity-induced frizzy hair the entire way. It’s a good thing I really like my colleagues because putting on non-stretchy pants for the first time in the week is never my favourite task.
One of my most sacred self-care rituals is drinking my morning coffee, so treating myself to a barista-made oat flat white on a Tuesday morning is my idea of luxury. In truth, this one treat has a very real effect on my mood and mental health. Some Tuesdays, I head up to the office and then make the pilgrimage to the local cafe with some workmates, and others, I grab one on the way in to sip when I get to my desk.
By Wednesday, I decided it was time to get a (literal) move on and hit the pavement. Once upon a time, I ran three times a week and found it to be great for clearing out the cobwebs (mentally and physically). These days, I run because it’s great for my mental health. I run when I really feel like I need it — and on Wednesday, I did. I try not to focus on goals like distance or minutes spent sweating, and prefer to give myself a pat on the back for doing something good for my mind and body.
I recently picked up a pair of the New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12 ($220) when my well-loved pair of Fresh Foam X 860v12 ($230) was due for an update, and I love myself sick in them. The foam padding underfoot is bouncy but still supportive and never leaves my feet feeling sore after a run. If you crave a plush, intuitive, soft-fit shoe that won’t hold you back, this is it. It is the pinnacle. Whether I’m running short or long distances, this shoe is perfectly versatile.
In what may be my most “Sydney” move of the week, today I decided to skirt the line between business casual and, well, just plain casual in the office.
There were two deciding factors to wearing my New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12 ($220) to work today: first, I’ve had a big week and comfort was my top priority. Second, wearing comfortable sneakers to work makes me more likely to go for a walk at lunch, and happily stand up and take a loop around the office. I don’t know why, but wearing runners to the office feels like a treat, like wearing my P.E. uniform to school on regular uniform days did. The comfort is pure luxury.
Making it to Friday and once again being able to work from my home office (read: small dining table) always feels like a relief. We usually finish work at 3 p.m on a Friday, so when the 2.45 p.m. message from my boss rolls around to remind me to finish up my work for the week, I’m chomping at the bit to get out of the house. This Friday, I hopped into my car for a long-ish drive to visit a huge nursery in Annangrove, in Sydney’s Hills District.
The rain had cleared up momentarily, so I spent some time checking out all the plants on sale at the Sydney Plant Market and treated myself to a mature fiddle leaf fig, a happy plant, and a big chaotic monstera. I recently moved into a new apartment, and this is just the beginning of my plant babies that will soon be filling the apartment.
Saturday and Sunday
As the temperature drops, my shoe wardrobe has two speeds: sneakers and boots. By the time the weekend rolls around, I’ve already slid into the sneaker portion of my week. Usually, on the weekends, I start my days as slowly as possible, with coffee and a book in bed or a walk to the local bakery and coffee shop with my dog, Billy. I’ve never been the kind of person who fills my weekends up with social outings and making it a priority to have plenty of downtime is my idea of self-care.
I used to often shame myself for not being an extroverted social butterfly every single weekend but, truthfully, I relish the idea of having no plans and nowhere to be. That’s the ultimate self-care for me and helps me recharge my introvert battery for the week ahead.
If you’re looking for a pair of shoes that’ll help you bound out of bed each day and get moving, try the New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12 ($220), and let me know what you think!