by Erin Torrance January 17, 2020
A new year doesn’t have to come with the pressures of turning a new leaf, setting goals, and overwhelming yourself with more to-dos to keep up with the crowd. At Scout, we’re all about going at your own pace, finding what makes you happy, and generating more of that in your life. So, instead of posting a list of New Year’s resolutions, we’re taking a closer look at self-care. In 2020, we’re all about meeting the self where it is now, finding what restores our energy, and powering up on the good things, so we can still show up in the tough times, for ourselves and others—because even with all the renewed optimism of the midnight countdown, the year is off to a real tough start for many. If you’re there, we see you. Hopefully, somewhere in this self-care tips list, you’ll be able to find something that helps you recover a little bit at a time.
To start, I’d like to underscore that self-care isn’t always simple, so don’t feel like a failure if you skip out on yourself to show up for a loved one or swap out reading for television. Self-care is all about acknowledging where you are, what you need, and how your choices can affect you physically and mentally. Taking a little note from Self-Care for the Real World by Nadia Narain and Katia Narain Phillips ($31.99, in-stores only), establishing new habits takes time. It takes 40 days to break an old habit, 90 days to establish a new habit, 120 days to have that new habit stick, and 1,000 days to master it. In other words, changes come in stages. Taking note of how you’re feeling throughout these stages can help to reinforce your willingness to stick to these new habits or recognize when a new habit isn’t working for you, that it’s more of an idea of what you thought you should be doing and not something that really fuels you.
Photo courtesy of Rohan Gunatillake
Self-care sessions are about recharging and rejuvenating. Mindfulness can help to encourage the mind to stay grounded in the present, allowing the body and spirit to better recharge during self-care. Rather than the mind being bogged down by worrying and wandering thoughts of past events, interactions, or failures or future tasks and challenges, which only leave you feeling more anxious and exhausted, mindfulness is about noticing when your thoughts are wandering, recognizing that tendency, then drawing yourself back to the present.
Mindfulness can be tough to begin. It takes time to train your mind and become aware of interrupting thoughts. Start small. Take a few minutes in the morning to note how your body feels, the scents surrounding you, the warmth of your morning coffee or tea, or the whoosh of traffic outside your home. Mindfulness cards can also help to guide your practice and bring further awareness and calm to your daily routine. Our Mindfulness Cards set by Rohan Gunatillake ($24.95, in-store and online) offer a good first step for beginners. Simply pull a card from the deck to set an intention for the day. Simple prompts appear on the front with a simple mindfulness practice on the back to help you incorporate that prompt into your day. As you develop your mindfulness practice, pull more cards to build out a complete practice for the week. Note that you won’t be perfect to begin. Mindfulness is about the process, about recognizing your thoughts, accepting them, and letting them go.
Photo courtesy of Modern Sprout
Plant ladies are onto something. According to a 2015 scientific study, interactions with plants in our homes can calm nervous system activity, lower blood pressure, and cultivate calmness. We’re not all green thumbs, though. For those a little concerned about killing off their new friend, pick up an air plant or succulent (we recommend Willem and Jools on Roncesvalles for the west enders and Quince Flowers on Queen Street for those in the east). Clean air plants can help to filter air in the home. Pair them with a handmade ceramic hanging planter from Cathy Terepocki ($70, in-stores only) for a little extra colour. We also have seed kits from Modern Sprout ($20) at our Leslieville store to see your plant babies grow from seed to sprout and eventually into beautiful blossom, caring and cultivating calmness through the process. Champagne poppies, twilight cosmos, and daisies are currently in stock, alongside Modern Sprout Ritual and Unwind kits ($69.95, currently 25% off!) that help establish self-care routines centred around your growing plants.
Photos courtesy of Calhoun & Co. and @theblondebookworm
Opt for a book and a cozy blanket to start your morning or end your night in calmness. The news has hardly been easy to absorb lately, with 50% of us reporting that watching and reading the news causes daily stress—and even leads to sleep loss for some. While we don’t suggest tuning out altogether, it might be time to set some boundaries for self-care. To balance out the effects, try scheduling in some reading time for a little self-care and calmness after catching up on the news. Some of the best times to read are in the morning for a positive start to your days or before bed, to reduce stress and improve sleep—some self-care that pays off the next day, too! According to Sussex University researchers, cozying up with a book can reduce stress by up to 68%. For those just getting into the reading routine, make the process extra special with a cozy cotton blanket from Calhoun & Co. ($165, in-stores and online—and currently 25% off!) or Montreal-made Jacquard knit throw from Noujica ($138, in-stores only and also 25% off!) and a collection of short stories. We recommend All These Wonders ($34, in-stores only), a collection of inspiring stories about risk, courage, and facing the unknown, curated by The Moth.
Photo courtesy of @urbannativegirl
With holiday bills coming due and tax season in the near future, finances can lead to a whole lot of stress and make you feel unable to invest in the things that make you happier, especially if you’re always feeling broke. Take time to get realistic about your finances and come up with a better way to budget that doesn’t make you feel like you need to cut out all the little things that make you happy with a little financial advice from money expert Shannon Lee Simmons. In her book Worry-Free Money ($21.99, in-stores and online), Simmons takes a new approach to finances, ditching traditional budgeting tactics alongside the feeling of being broke. This practical book shows how to break the cycle of guilt in buying “non-necessities,” understanding when and why you overspend, and how to avoid spending out of frustration and unhappiness. Pick up a journal (lots of options in-store and online) for taking notes while reading and putting the lessons learned to practice. While it might sound like work, finding a way to feel good about your finances can be a stress-cutting heavy-hitter and offer you more flexibility budget-wise for your self-care routines. (If you’re dealing with debt, Simmons has a book for that, too! Check out Living Debt-Free, available in both of our store locations.)
Photos courtesy of Midnight Paloma Instagram
Have you tried dry brushing? A technique used to encourage circulation, exfoliation, and lymphatic drainage, dry brushing is a simple self-care activity that can be incorporated into your daily or weekly routine as a way to check in with your body, to connect with feelings and sensations and show yourself some love and care from head to toe. Meditative in nature, dry brushing has also been proven to reduce stress, encouraging time for mindfulness and calm. For your lymphatic system particularly, dry brushing can offer a helpful boost. An extensive system of tubules that collect and transport waste through the body, when not properly supported, your lymphatic system can become congested, leading to a build-up of waste and toxins causing inflammation and disease. Stimulating your lymphatic system through the massaging of dry brushing helps to release lymphatic congestion, functioning as a powerful detoxification method. We recommend Midnight Paloma’s body dry brushes ($22.95, in-stores and online), followed up with Everything Balm ($45, in-stores and online) chock full of cocoa butter and rice bran oil for their ultra-hydrating and healing properties and rosemary extract for its anti-inflammatory benefits. As a self-care ritual, the result is calmness and care for the physical body, which can also enhance our mood and self-confidence.
Photos courtesy of Foxhound Candles and Field Kit
Our sense of smell is the only sense directly linked to the brain’s limbic system, the area that impacts emotional regulation and memory. Because of this connection, familiar scents linked to positive memories can have a calming effect. While research suggests lavender and frankincense can help with anxiety and depression, lifting our moods, scent is certainly a personal experience. Lighting a candle or spritzing an aromatherapy spray with a familiar scent you can link to a particular moment, memory, or person can be a form of self-care that’s easy to incorporate while completing tasks at home or while working on what might otherwise be a stressful task at work. Made in Nova Scotia, Foxhound’s soy Lavender and Linen candle ($20, in-stores and online) smells like a fresh load of laundry, the Home candle from Calgary’s Field Kit ($25, in-stores and online) smells like a hot cup of coffee, reminding us of that moment of calm with the first morning sip. For me, Field Kit’s Greenhouse candle ($25, in-stores and online), which combines top notes of tomato leaf with base notes of earth, reminds me of warm days gardening with my mom and tasty toasted tomato sandwiches. Explore more scents in-store to find a candle that triggers a positive memory or association for you to incorporate into your self-care practices.
Photo courtesy of Chronicle Books
Multiple studies have shown that those with a more grateful mindset are able to better care for their mental and physical state. Those who consider themselves grateful experience better sleep, tend to experience fewer signs of depression and anxiety, and make better financial decisions than those who do not regularly incorporate gratitude in their days. Some simple ways to cultivate more can be found here. For those who like to write, Letters for a Year of Gratitude ($29.95, in-stores only) can be a useful weekly exercise in giving thanks with 52 letters featuring prompts to help you send letters of appreciation to the people who matter and make a difference in your life in so many different ways.
Diving into scientific studies and advice columns from mental health experts, it’s oh so clear that there are way too many ways to cultivate self-care to list here. The underlying factor in it all: learn to say “yes” to exploring more of what makes you calm, at ease, or happy and say “no” to what doesn’t. Finding what fuels you takes time. Explore, take note, and have patience. Ban.do’s Take Care Wellness Planner ($42, in-stores and online) can help to keep everything organized, so you can track how you’re doing, explore new areas of self-care (like building your own beautiful flower bouquet), and tracking your feelings, among other useful tabs! When you run out of pages, you can access free printable refill pages here, picking which pages to expand your Wellness Planner in the categories that work for you.
Finally, note that life is going to challenge you. There will be an ebb and flow to your self-care time, particularly for those with a demanding career, growing families, or care-takers. If taking some time out for self-care still feels impossible to you, don’t lose hope. There are plenty more tips to explore, including ways to incorporate simple self-care at work, in Self-Care for the Real World (check out page 226 for some quick starter points).
Have a self-care tip you’d like to share? See an idea you’re excited to follow through with? Share it all with us below!
A frequent shopper at the store over the years, Erin joined the Scout team when we opened in Leslieville in November 2018. She prides herself on giving the perfect heartfelt card and may be considered your go-to source for brunch and coffee recommendations in the East End.
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