I have never been good at being a girl.

I was never one for knowing much about make up, filling a dressing table with toiletries and smelly stuff, and painting my toe nails.

I grew up playing every sport I could fit in, living in Adidas pants (remember those popper ones?) and regularly bandaged up in some way due to sporting or clumsy mishaps.

I would say I’m still not great at it. I can’t be faffed with all this contouring, drawing on eyebrows, and creating <ahem…fitting into> instagram worthy outfits. I find this whole thing frankly ridiculous, and I certainly don’t want to dedicate a portion of my day to this stuff.

I’ll never be a ‘girly girl’. I am not sure I would ever want to be.

But something has changed.

Third-life crisis coming through

I wrote last week about how things have changed since I became self-employed, but outside of the work place there have been some significant changes too.

Maybe a third-life crisis of sorts.

As I headed into my mid-thirties I started to appreciate a few new, finer things in life. And suddenly I no longer resented spending time and money on pampering myself.

Then, as I approached the wrong side of my mid 30s, it got more severe.

I knew something bizarre was going on when I voluntarily had a ‘lash lift’. Something my beautician now wishes she’d never recommended after half an hour of me clutching my eyes and flapping about like a trout on her treatment bed (I had forgotten to take my antihistamines and my overly sensitive eyes were stinging like a swine as a result).

What has happened to me?

I have somehow ended up with a self-care, beautifying, pampered pooch regime.

Well I never.

But why not?

I have got to a point where I figure I earn decent money now, so why shouldn’t I spend money on myself and make myself feel good? I am finding the beauty (pun intended) in taking the time and effort to look after myself. For me. Not anyone else. To make me feel good inside and out (we’re about 3% of the way there on that one).

It really is surprising how different it can make you feel to treat yourself to these little moments of pampering and self-care. Getting the endorphins flowing and keeping them going. Giving you that little boost when you look in the mirror and feel a little better about yourself, or see a flash of a bunny painted on your nails and get all giddy. It can start your day off on the right (manicured) foot.

I find this especially significant, as now I am working from home I rarely do my hair and makeup or dress like I would if I was exiting the house. I like in chinos and t-shirts, and rarely even dry my hair. So it is nice not to feel like a total scruffy slob by having sparkly nails and being lathered up in nice scents.

The bigger picture

When accompanied by exercise, a good diet, physiotherapy, decent sleep, and mindfulness, a bit of pampering is a very powerful tool to have in your self-care arsenal.

The appointments and exercise sessions make me take time out and switch off from work, taking my mind off my ever growing to do list and the days deadlines. It stops me ruminating. It is difficult to think about work when putting the world to rights whilst having a manicure, trying not to fall over in Zumba or attempting to move and breathe at the right pace in Pilates. And if all else fails, I can take any frustrations out on the punch bag, or whoever is my poor unsuspecting partner, at Boxercise/KickBoxercise.

Together something in the magic potion of self-care is also making me sleep much better. I have been an insomniac for as long as I can remember, and my sleep is easily affected by the smallest things, especially if it is something whirling around my brain. My sleep is also hugely affected by changes in my routine, which is a potential minefield now I am self-employed and every day can be different, but by keeping a routine with other habits in my day, it is keeping me on track.

Creating a ritual

It is important to look after yourself every day, not just when you feel rubbish. And this has been a huge learning curve for me. It is easy to let it slide when either you are feeling great, or you are busy juggling life, work and a social life, plus remembering to eat and sleep. But by getting into a routine it can easily become a habit.

As someone who is continually told to calm down/sit/relax/recoup but struggles to do so, I have finally found a way of at least attempting to in small bursts. So it stops my man nagging me as much if nothing else (he is the master of ‘just sitting’ and would like to do so without me bouncing off the walls).

I still have a way to go before I am successful having the ritual nailed, as I regularly let work and other things get in the way of my routine, or my usual downfall – I try to do too much.

Due to my frazzled brain, I also just forget to do things sometimes. Once I have forgotten or put it off for a couple of days, next thing I know 3 months have gone by and I feel like I have to start again.

But I have started, and so I shall continue.

I am still finding what works for me, but I have made great strides in getting there.

And if all else fails, I’m having fun along the way.

Now, where’s my brew and my book?

Part 2 to follow next week: Tips for nailing a self-care routine

Write 52: Week 11
​Theme: A few of my favourite things