Looking after yourself is hard

Taking care of number one is never the first priority

Do you ever get that sudden burst of motivation just as you crawl into bed at night? Filled with ambition and drive for all the exciting things you could achieve tomorrow….

I intend to wake up early, go for a run, eat a healthy breakfast, smash through my to-do list, read a book… and that’s just before lunch!

The reality is always far from the idea. Even if I weren’t beholden to my own serotonin levels, I don’t think I’d ever actually achieve ‘the perfect day’.

Productivity always comes at a cost, and when you work for yourself, that price can only be paid for by one person: you.

Why is it so hard to look after yourself?

It seems like “self-care" Instagram posts are ten a penny these days, from influencers pushing face masks to relatable comic strips by talented illustrators, we all know that it's vital to look after ourselves first… and I don't know about you, but I find it really hard to turn intention into action.

I know that the benefits of meditation, early nights, regular work breaks, less alcohol and caffeine, and adopting a healthier routine all contribute to better mental health, but when you're prone to depression, those things aren't just difficult, they're impossible.

I've always been a fan of a pen-and-paper list, and that sweet, sweet dopamine that comes with ticking off a task. But often that determination to get things done comes at a price… and I can guarantee that the things that benefit my mental health the most are the first to go when another last-minute job comes in.

When you work for yourself, it starts and ends with you. If you don't get the work done, and the invoices sent, you're not getting paid. So, it's easy to fall into bad habits like working evenings and weekends, taking fewer breaks and sacrificing meal times for zoom calls.

This week I noticed I was falling back into my old ways, so I started planning my day by the hour. This might seem a little OTT, and it probably is, but the last few days I've managed to complete my to-do list, while also enjoying the benefits that come with actually doing self-care.

Self-care looks different for everyone, and it’s usually the simplest things that you find the hardest. For me, cooking and exercise come pretty easy, but taking time away from screens and tidying my living space are a struggle.

If you find it hard to eat three square meals, you could try creating a meal plan for the week ahead. I know I spend too much time on social media, so I am trying out an app that highlights how long I'm using my phone, and which apps are the most addictive.

It all starts with a good intention and few small, practical steps.

It’s not all facemasks and deep breaths

Sometimes the most effective self-care can be the most brutal, whether that means ending a problematic relationship, saying no to social occasions that you don’t want to attend or consciously opting out of family drama, all of these things can make a world of difference where a scented candle is simply not enough.

Whatever you decide to do, keep it realistic. There's no point in writing a meal plan if it's impossible to stick to. And if you don't stick to it? It doesn't matter. Start again tomorrow.

Tell me about how you turn your self-care ideas into real, practical action over on Twitter @ContentByTheSea or reply to this email for a chat.

Some weeks I feel like I have nothing for this section, and others are a bounty - and this week is just that!

📚 Solitaire by Alice Oseman

A YA tale from the author of the famous Heartstopper comic series. This was pretty good, but probably the weakest of her work that I’ve read. I did just discover she wrote this when she was just 17, which is incredible. If you liked Heartstopper and fancy reading some of her prose, I’d recommend Radio Silence over this.

🎥 Oxygène (Netflix)

A French sci-fi film about a woman who wakes up in a cryogenic chamber with limited oxygen. She has to work out what the hell is going on before she dies of asphyxiation. Kept us guessing right ‘til the end, highly recommend.

🎙 TMG Podcast skit about Gary Vee - Honestly, one of the funniest things I have ever seen. I was crying into the treadmill trying to run while watching this.

📺 Pose (BBC iPlayer)

I don’t know why I’ve never watched this show before because I am obsessed. Pose is a drama set in New York during the late-80s and early-90s, depicting the highs and lows of ballroom culture against the backdrop of the AIDS epidemic. I cannot recommend it enough. Watch it. Do it now.

“The unsettling cult-like operation of the fashion industry” by Kristen Leo

If you’re interested in sustainability and slow fashion then Kristen’s channel is probably also on your list, but just in case you haven’t come across her yet I wanted to share this amazing video about how the fashion industry has developed over time. Kristen makes many great points in this piece, but one that I can’t stop thinking about is how minimalism is actually a product of capitalism, and the origin of fashion is the antithesis of uniformity that the western fashion industry promotes… 🤯

That’s all from me this week,


Ellen x

Enjoyed this? You might like these past issues:

19 May: He just can’t decide

12 May: Getting titillated by the tangible

5 May: Taking it all in

28 April: Be a better cheerleader

21 April: The power of procrastination

14 April: How to sell without feeling icky

7 April: Am I a bad feminist for wanting to lose weight?

31 March: The rescue dogs that rescued us

24 March: Feelings are meant to be felt

17 March: I sent a newsletter every week for a year

10 March: I’m triggered

3 March: Balancing creativity and getting paid

24 February: The day I lost a client

17 February: How to talk to someone who is struggling