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Hi.

Thanks for visiting Joy42. Follow along on my adventures as an American Expat, a newlywed, and someone trying to figure out how to take care of myself. I hope to encourage you to seek out the little joys in your life.

5 Ways I'm Taking Care of Myself

5 Ways I'm Taking Care of Myself

As I mentioned on Monday, during my hiatus, I realised one of the things I want to focus on here on the blog is self care and self love. I first posted about it back in January with my How to Shift from Self Hate to Self Love post. I got so much wonderful feedback from friends, family, strangers. Everybody! And it was incredibly freeing to be real about something that we all struggle with. That post seemingly kicked off a season of trying to take care of myself and being willing to make small changes to my daily routine to feel better, practice positivity, and show myself love that I have withheld for so long.

Today, I wanted to share five things that I've been doing that have made such an incredible impact for me both physically, emotionally, and mentally. I've found that I really thrive in structure and routine, so over the last month or so, I've worked really hard to build small things into my everyday life that have now created a structure that I'm able to keep to on a daily basis.

Start the day with 30(ish) minutes of yoga.

I think I'm actually going to do a whole post about this because this has truly changed my life. Luke and I talked about starting our day with yoga every day for weeks before we finally just bit the bullet and did it. We started with Yoga with Adriene's TRUE 30 Day Challenge and it was exactly what I was looking for. It turns out yoga is a really great way to move in the mornings because even on the days when it's a little bit more intense and gets your heart going a little more than usual, you still ease in and out of it. Yoga is about connecting mind and body and there's only room for positivity and acceptance in yoga, so it's just such a fantastic way to start the day.

Take care of my hair, skin, and teeth.

I'm not going to start talking about beauty products here, I promise. If you know me, you know I'm the lowest maintenance person ever. I recently heard someone say that her hair and face were like her lowest priority in life and I was like yep, that's me for the last 8 years! I don't wear any make up on a regular basis and my go-to hair style is generally whatever is laziest. That being said, this is the skin I've got, the hair I've got, the teeth I've got, so I should do something to take care of it, even if it's quite minimal.

My hair is usually in a bun, a braid, or a pony tail during the day, so sleeping with my hair that way, can sometimes mean my hair being that way for 24 hours or more. So lately I've been trying to take my hair down each night, brush it through, and contain it for bed with a bobby pin (usually in a loose braid), per Kelsey's suggestion at A Balancing Peach. She has also inspired me to try hair oil, which I was nervous about because my hair gets so oily on its own on the second day after I've washed it. But I picked up a little bottle of Pantene Hydrating Oil since I use Pantene shampoo and conditioner. After using it one time I was absolutely blown away with how softer and silkier my hair felt. It had been so dry and damaged, so it was a complete 180. (I also got a trim to get rid of my awful split ends.)

I spoke to my sister Sam who is a beauty guru (and you should follow her Instagram account, by the way) and she suggested, knowing how little time, money, and effort I'm going to spend on it, that I just start with moisturising every day. I have Cetaphil moisturiser that I try to use every night before bed and it kind of makes me feel like I'm in a movie. C'mon, you know every time they show a married couple going to bed in a movie, he's might be in bed already reading or maybe he's in the closet taking off his suit, but you know she's going to be in bed putting lotion on her neck. That's me now. And on Sundays, in the name of #selfcaresunday, I've started using a face mask. I ventured out to LUSH, which I'm very pleased to say is in here in the UK, in search of a charcoal face mask. I got help from a very lovely guy who ultimately pointed me in the direction of Oatifix since they don't currently have a charcoal face mask, which I always want to call Oatface. I have incredibly dry skin, especially in the winter, made worse by taking a shower, and this has been a game changer for me. LUSH says this about Oatifix:

This gentle, nourishing mask is made with fresh bananas and illipe butter to moisturise dry skin. Oatmeal, ground almonds and kaolin work together in a mildly exfoliating base to eradicate dead skin, leaving you soft, supple and moisturised. Smooth a generous layer of this mask onto your face and leave for 10 to 15 minutes and let the ingredients get to work before washing off gently with warm water.

While at LUSH, I also picked up Boom! Toothy Tabs, to help whiten my teeth with the charcoal, something I have been reading a lot about recently. In the past, I've tried Crest Whitening Strips, and hated having them on my teeth and didn't see any results. Knowing that charcoal removes impurities (which is why I wanted it for a face mask as well), I figured Boom! would be a great option:

Life is unpredictable, but with gunpowder tea and charcoal you can be sure of explosive freshness. Nibble one between your teeth for a blast of sea salt, aniseed and black pepper with the taste of spicy cola.

The employee advised me to use them every time I brush my teeth, but Luke and I decided to do it for our evening brush and still use toothpaste for the morning brush. He said he likes it, but it took a while for me to get used to. Since you bite into the chalky tablet, sometimes there's a gross texture if it doesn't dissolve all the way. And it's definitely hard to get over the Gollum look.

Practice a daily meditation.

I've written about Headspace here on the blog more than once and that's because I love it. I never took myself for a meditator, but now I've worked up quite a streak and have done over 1,000 minutes. Headspace truly has it all. Luke and I do the Sleeping single every night to fall asleep--and it works for me about 98% of the time--and I've set a daily reminder to do another meditation throughout the day. Currently I'm working through the Self Esteem pack. Meditation has also become one of my emergency life lines. If I'm in a foul mood, if I'm upset, overwhelmed, frustrated, unfocused, whatever it is, I'll put on a quick meditation and take some deep breaths, even if it means hiding out in the bathroom at work for five minutes. I wrote more about that on my 5 Changes to Make If You're Unhappy Where You're At post. 

Drink my morning concoctions.

I was going to call them morning potions, but I didn't want you to know I'm a witch. Oops, I mean think I'm a witch. My friend Shalisa actually inspired both of these drinks, although one was a bit more indirectly. She suggested I start every morning with a concoction of 1 Tbsp lemon juice, 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar, a pinch of cinnamon, and hot water. And it's honestly better than it sounds. Each ingredient offers a lot of benefits like lowering cholesterol, clearing up skin, boosting energy, aiding digestion, and apparently even weight loss. I've never been a coffee drinker, but I start each morning with this drink, carrying little jars of lemon juice and apple cider vinegar to work or if we're away for the night. (It's fun explaining that it's not actually two very different, probably unhealthy urine samples.)

After that concoction, I have a cup of tea with collagen peptides in it. A lot of people I know have jumped on this bandwagon in the name of better skin, hair, and nails, but when I read that it can help with joint pain, I was finally on board. I've had knee problems since late 2013 (I remember thinking it started from walking around San Diego in poorly supported shoes.), which has now turned into knee and hip problems. The left side of my lower body aches at night or if I sit too long, and I have noticed a drastic change since I started drinking collagen peptides every day. I keep a lacrosse ball under my pillow (yes, seriously) to lay on to help relieve some of the pain at night (only on the bed so the pressure isn't too intense) and I've gone from using it nearly every night to maybe using it once a fortnight. I'm not cured, but I'm better. 

Set more contentious goals.

I've been listening to the Goal Digger Podcast lately and in one episode, Jenna Kutcher talked about how she became more mindful in the goals she sets. She talks about why people fail at their goals and the important of setting up a time and place for your goals to live. She says she adds three actions per goal as well as a celebration in order to create that space for her goals. I had also been thinking of moving from monthly goals to quarterly goals because I find myself recycling the same goals that I have yet to accomplish month-to-month. It just happened to be something Jenna suggested doing as well, which sealed the deal. Three months gives you time to really focus on something, but also allows for your overall goals and priorities to shift as needed so you aren't setting yourself up for a failure if you want to pivot halfway through the year.

I've been having mixed feelings about setting goals for different areas of my life like I had been with spiritual, financial, relational, social, mental, physical, personal, and professional. On the one hand, I want to continue to grow in all of these areas, but on the other, it's really hard to manage so much actual growth at the same time. Instead, Jenna spoke about setting goals for three areas: income, impact, and individual. Going from eight goals over one month to three goals over three months feels like such a better set up for success and allows for greater focus on fewer things.

Because I'm trying to be more involved in my goal setting, I've actually decided to no longer continue to share them here on my blog, hence why today's post isn't about my goals for April or the second quarter of 2018. Setting goals this way is a lot more difficult than just scribbling down some recycled idea of something I've already failed half a dozen times. It feels more personal and intense and I think I want to keep it that way for the time being. My plan is to try it for a quarter or two and then report back.

So these are the five things I'm working on right now and implementing into my life right now. They're little things that total less than an hour of my day, but they've made a huge difference in how I feel about myself and how good it feels know that I can keep somewhat of a routine in the name of taking care of myself. Because I deserve it! And so do you!

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