Charlie Smith-Knight looks at how we should invest some time in to ourselves.
As the Swedish sauna that was this summer slides away in the rear-view mirror, autumn is on the horizon, bringing a lull in the heat and a well-earned break from BBQs and beer gardens. In the spirit of the shedding season, it is time to drop some social weight and cruise leisurely towards the Christmas period. With this in mind, here are some seasonal self-care ideas before the glitter and canapes of party season are knocking on the door like an uninvited charity worker.
Layer Up and Get Out…
Of course, the weather will be on the turn and as unpredictable and often savage as an episode of Game of Thrones BUT now is not the time to go into hibernation. Being outside for just 20 minutes a day, or around two hours a week, has serious health benefits including improved sleep, more mental energy and better breathing. We live in a society more overstimulated than a toddler drinking espresso, and it is important to remember to be engaged in the world without draining our mental batteries to depletion. So, wrap up, put on your wellies, bundle the kids/dogs/emergency breakdown kit in the car and get out in the great outdoors. Grab your umbrella, a large flask of your favourite hot beverage and possibly one of those medical tin foil capes-just to be on the safe side. Norfolk and Suffolk offer both stunning coastlines and leafy woodlands so you can still get some colour in your face even if it’s the product of windburn. Pick a pumpkin, collect some pinecones, take in the wildlife but just get out. Trust me on this one, it’s science.
As an avid reader, this one is an easy sell for me. Set some time aside from binge-watching TV box sets, put your phone on silent and pick up a book. I’m not suggesting you run headfirst into Tolstoy – I doubt even he actually read War and Peace back – but you can pick up paperbacks cheaply at charity shops, or free at your local library. From Peter James’ thrillers, to JoJo Moyes’ romance and some Bill Bryson anecdotals, charity shops have a plethora of options and something for everyone, including the brownie points you’ll earn on your carbon footprint. If you find you’ve picked a story with less narrative structure than a perfume advert, pick another. Reading is a gateway skill that can reduce stress, lower your blood pressure and will help prevent cognitive decline as you get older. So, it’s worth investing some time in and may just help you remember where you left your keys in later life. Start at 30 minutes a day, drop out of socials for a while, get a blanket and just read. Read by yourself, read to the kids, join an online book club, read and discuss with a friend. You won’t regret it and you can soon catch up on what Susan at Number 12 had for dinner or what Mark from work has done to embarrass himself on TikTok.
A change is as good as a rest…
Or so Winston Churchill once said. During lockdown, many of us tried new things and found that stepping out of our comfort zones was genuinely enjoyable. Post pandemic, there’s many more options for the new things we can experience. Don’t be put off by instructors whose names read more like a strong password suggestion than an actual moniker and sign up to a class. Yoga, painting, learn a language… the options in the outside world are much more limitless than the ones we had behind closed doors. Join a sports club, attend a community cinema, be creative. Burn some grey matter and infuse some positivity into your week. Trying new things builds confidence, allows us to meet new people, encourages development of new brain cells and breaks up the routine of everyday life. It doesn’t need to be expensive or time consuming to provide new opportunities and you don’t need to wait until the New Year to discover a new you. Get ahead of the game.
So as Santa looms around the corner, like a clown with a pie in his hand, make the first present one for you and indulge in some me-time. You’ll be more well-rounded than the jolly man himself and ready to hit those holiday parties faster than an ex-Love Islander on the media circuit. Because, as they say, you’ll never go broke investing in yourself.