Junk Free July

I love a good theme as much as the next girl. It’s fun, keeps me on target and allows me to focus all of my energy on one clearly defined outcome. We kicked off the summer focusing on re-calibrating our goals to reflect our values and making a plan to attack them. Now, I don’t know about you but when I set a goal I have a tendency to go FULL FORCE to the point of complete tunnel vision. This can be perceived as a good thing except this focus makes me put a lot of things on the back burner, including myself. It’s only when I take a moment to come up for air that I realize how far down the rabbit hole I’ve gone. As much I respect the grind, it is important to realize that we cannot fully commit ourselves to anything or anyone if we are not first investing in ourselves. As I mentioned in my #100MilesofSummer challenge, I’m always chasing the sun which can get the best of me at times, especially in the summer when the sun goes down late and vibes are always flowing, which is why I’ve deemed July, “Junk Free July” after stumbling across Cotter Crunch’s Vegan No Bake “Dirt” Pie Instagram post – even if you’re not vegan trust me, you’ll want to check out this recipe – reflecting on her experience of living a Junk Free June. Seeing how I missed that boat, I figured July was the perfect opportunity to launch my own self-care ship!

Junk Free July is essentially a return to self-care, a topic that’s caught a lot of attention in the health and wellness community. We’re finally recognizing the importance of taking time for ourselves to reset and refresh after a long day, week, or trying time. And the absolute BEST part about self-care is it’s tailored specifically to YOU. What one finds draining and filling is different from the next. We each just have to take time to sit with ourselves to find out.

In order to get a better sense of what we each individually deem as “self-care”, we must first look at what drains us. Yes, getting up for work can be draining, going to work can be draining and returning home to perform XYZ adulting tasks is draining but what else throughout our day takes away from our energy? From me, it’s multiple social events and high social interaction. I must admit, I’m an introvert at heart. My preferred environment, as I use to describe my fellow introverts, is one-on-one interaction and low stimulation. When I experience too many gatherings in one week or have to entertain multiple people for extended periods of time I quickly become overwhelmed. I like to think I’m a giver and caretaker by nature so I spend a lot of time putting energy towards others. When looking at my “drainers” this was an important realization for me. It gave me the confidence of saying “No” to invites and forced me to find time allocated for me. Once you’ve identified what drains and fills you, it’s time to pull out your overly detailed planner that I know everyone keeps – or just me…probably just me – to look at your schedule to see where you can make time for the personally fulfilling activities. There are only 24-hours in a day which seems to already not be enough but if we look close we can find moments where we can give back to ourselves. 

Essentially, self-care is the classy way to say “Treat yo self” (my Parks & Recreation fans appreciate that reference), but not to be confused with spending X amount of dollars to feel good. Self-care doesn’t have to cost you anything. Some people choose monthly spas, others take time in the morning to meditate. It’s whatever works for you.

To give you a better idea of what self-care built into your day looks like, I have outlined my daily routine below and a few self-care activities I engage in throughout my week.

5:30 am – Wake up/10 minutes of mediation.

7:00 am – Training. As a surprise to no one, I love all capacities of training. Running, lifting weights, mobility work, all of it. I try to stay away from heavy interactive group classes as this is my time where I go into autopilot and let my body do what it does best.

8:30 am – Before I start my work I make a point to sit down, complete my gratitude journal then start my day. It helps me remind me that no matter how challenging the day may be to always have grace in my heart.

12:00 pm – Lunch. I’ve gotten in a bad habit of sitting at my desk at lunch so I try to walk at least for 30 minutes at lunch.

4:30 pm – End of work day

6:30 pm – Dinner

7:30 pm – Free time. I run around A LOT during the week so this time is spent with friends or exploring the city.

9:00 pm – Pre-bed stretch. Stretching before bed helps me unwind and prepare my body for the next morning’s training.

10:30 pm – Lights out. Given how early I wake up it should come to no surprise that I head to bed early. I absolutely hate being tired. It throws my entire equilibrium off.

Outside of my routine, one of my guilty pleasures is skin care products. Once a week I will do a mini spa day, full exfoliating, face/eye mask, self foot massage. All at the cost of me. Within my work day I opt out of sitting in the kitchen or at my desk at lunch and make a point to get outside. This gives me the opportunity to get some fresh air, recenter and spend some time for myself. Some other activities I enjoy is biking throughout the city, especially down Lakeshore Drive this time of year, exploring new restaurants, and cooking.

I never seem to appreciate the power of self-care until I find myself in the middle of a whirlwind – aka the past two weeks – when my anxiety is about to spill out. I become irritable, overwhelmed and my diet goes out the window. It’s in these moments I turn to my self-care routine to slow me down and re-balance everything.

What are some of the ways you re-energize yourself?

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