Happy Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day! After refreshing my main bathroom, and giving the one room I hated the most a spa like feel, I’ve been focusing a lot on self-care habits. My daily commute into D.C. is approximately two hours each day. In addition, I work nine hours a day, Monday through Friday. When I get home, I am T-I-R-E-D. Thus, since moving to Baltimore and working in D.C., I’ve made it a point to maintain my life-work balance, keeping my home peaceful and developing self-care habits that reduce my stress levels.
Each day this month, I’m sharing 31 Self-Care Habits for Successful Women on my social media accounts. Here is the full list of all things self-care that we women can do to feel less overwhelmed and maintain our sanity.
Schedule Your Appointment for Self Care
You should be scheduling self-care just as you would any other appointment. I used to get a full body massage once a month, and would keep a recurring schedule with my masseuse. Since moving to Baltimore, I haven’t been getting my massages as regularly as I used to. However, I make it a point to schedule self-care. Whether it’s a pedicure, waxing or hair appointment, PENCIL IT IN! Otherwise, you’ll be so bogged down by life and interruptions, that you’ll completely forget to make that time for yourself.
I’ve been trying to get better at meditating. I know that due to my work schedule and commute, it would be really difficult to do it every day. So, I’ve been getting into the habit of meditating every Sunday morning. Health experts insist that meditation reduces stress levels and controls anxiety. It also promotes emotional health and self-awareness. When I meditate, I clear my mind, as it’s constantly running over my to do list for work and personal. I focus on my breathing, and often use meditation music to create my calming atmosphere.
3. Write in Journal
Who’s bad at keeping up with their journal? *Raises hand* When I read Becoming by Michelle Obama, I giggled at the parts where she talked about attempting to journal, then falling off, then picking back up only to fall off again. I’m terrible at journaling! I suppose this blog has become my new journal, and I’ve been pretty consistent. But I also do some creative writing during my free time – which some would say is a form of journaling. Writing truly helps me decompress from the day and organize my thoughts.
4. Create a Peaceful Home
If your home is in complete disarray then guess what, so will your stress levels! I get it. Many of my readers have children, spouses, etc. So, it may not be as tidy as my pictures (believe me, when Friday rolls around, it’s not at all “tidy.”). Creating a weekend cleaning schedule keeps my space decluttered and organized. I knock out all of my weekly cleaning Saturday morning, allowing me to spend the rest of the weekend and early work week in and orderly home, creating peace of mind.
5. Put that Lipstick On!
I read somewhere once that if you dress up for work, dates, dinner parties, etc., it completely changes and lifts your mood. So true. When I dress up for work, or going out with friends or dates, I feel beautiful and confident. There is something about slipping on a favorite dress or pair of shoes and walking into a room.
6. Stretch it Out
I don’t like to go to the gym. That’s just me. It’s not necessarily 100% laziness. I’m truly paranoid about my ankle, thanks to my previous injury. But, the one thing that has helped me with both my physical and emotional health is yoga. Ideally, I’ve set a goal this year to be consistent with my yoga and stretching it out every Saturday morning. I’m really excited to see how this benefits me a year from now, health wise.
7. Your Planner is Your Friend
My friends and work colleagues tease me because I always invest in a new beautiful planner every year. I have a work planner, which keeps me on task. But, I also have a personal planner, especially now that I’m blogging part-time. When you don’t use a planner, you are susceptible to losing your ideas and missing deadlines. Planners are your friend. Invest in a good one and use it.
8. Listen to a Positive Thinking Podcast
When I’m not listening to a true crime podcast, like Serial, I’m listening to a positive thinking podcast. Whether I’m at work, or in the car, these podcasts get my mind right and help me think about certain life choices:
Therapy for Black Girls
Therapy for Black Girls is written by Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, Ph.D. a licensed psychologist in Atlanta, Georgia. This podcast is so deep and amazing. When my mind is racing about issues that plague me as a 35-year-old single Black female, this is my go to podcast. Dr. Bradford talks about everything from toxic masculinity, to being an entrepreneur and managing your mental health. I really love this podcast and I’m so glad I found it. I also follow her on Instagram to keep up with her latest posts.
Design You by Tobi Fairley
Another one of my favorites is Design You by Tobi Fairley. Tobi Fairley is one of my favorite interior designers, and her podcast is brand spanking new, launching in 2018. I like hearing what Tobi has to say, particularly about self-care necessities like setting boundaries with others, controlling your mindset, and even recognizing whether or not your home is supporting your goals and dreams! I love it because she’s an interior designer and brings a unique perspective as an entrepreneur attempting to maintain her life-work balance like the rest of us!
The Power Seat
The Power Seat is all about teaching you how to win at your career and personal life, taking control of your destiny and making the best decisions that are right for you. This new podcast is hosted by Tanesha McCauley aka “Coach T” and attorney Nicole Rachelle aka “The Proper Diva.” The duo talks about intimate relationships, how social media postings can affect employment prospects, and how to navigate your career.
Red Table Talk
Although Red Table Talk is not a podcast, and more like a vlog or daytime talk show, it is my “chicken soup for the soul (remember that book?).” Red Table Talk is hosted by actress Jada Pinkett Smith, her daughter and singer Willow Smith, and her mother, Adrienne. I recently watched the episode, “What Men Really Think About Love” with rapper Wale and Jane the Virgin actor, Justin Baldoni. It spoke volumes, particularly to my generation and the current dating world (e.g., online dating apps) and the difficulty in actually meeting someone who is ready for commitment thanks to social media, the deterioration of communication skills and the need for “instant gratification.”
9. Eat Nourishing Foods
At the start of the year, I reduced my processed sugar intake. I’m slowly weaning off sodas and cereals, but it has really helped my digestive system. And, I lost weight! Instead of eating ice cream every night (which I shouldn’t anyway because I’m really not supposed to have dairy), I’ve been eating sweet fruits like pineapples and grapes. Eating nourishing fruits and vegetables really does affect your chemical balance – not just your weight. It affects your mood and concentration levels as well. Eat healthier for a healthier mindset.
10. Find Time for Your Spirituality
Part of my meditation process is centering my spirit by reading a Scripture from the Bible. I meditate on the Scripture that I’ve just read and focus on its message. What am I supposed to learn? Maybe you are not religious. That’s ok. But you should still make time to find your center, meditating on what makes you happy. Family. Friends. Pets. Center your chakra alignments to reset your spiritual mood.
11. Add One Thing to Your Resume
This has been my motto for several years now. Each year, I add one new thing to my resume. This doesn’t necessarily need to be a new job. Maybe you can write a scholarly article in your academic field. Maybe you can take an accredited workshop or lecture. Maybe you can enroll in a new certificate program, expanding your expertise. Add something new once a year, to keep your resume fresh and competitive.
12. Challenge Yourself
Are you challenging yourself? I recently transferred to another department within my federal agency. I found myself frustrated in my previous unit, not just because it was a very toxic work environment, but also because the work itself was not challenging. I quickly realized, after moving to the DMV and joining my previous unit, that I had come from previous sectors of my agency that offered much for challenging and strenuous work. So, once I got to D.C., the work was almost TOO easy. I felt very unfulfilled and unsatisfied. Now, I’m in a department that provides very challenging work on a daily basis. I’m never bored and I’m back to feeling like I’m actually making a difference in the immigration world again. What I realized about myself is that I’m not afraid of challenges. I strive for them. Even when I was a student, I remember always purposely taking difficult classes in high school and college, selecting complex writing and research topics. Harvard Medical School insists that challenging yourself sharpens your thinking skills and increasing brain activities. I couldn’t agree more.
13. Educate Yourself
For my March book list, I read a few books on feminism and what the movement means to some of the most influential writers. I also read #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso. The book is not about feminism but is about empowering women on how to be successful entrepreneurs. I have the entrepreneurial spirit, but ever since I started to tap into my creative and innovative side, I didn’t really know where to start in terms “getting started.” I found #Girlboss to be really helpful in terms of providing advice on not only to be successful in your current career — or applying for a new job — but also holding on to your dreams and doing the proper research on how to bring them into fruition. I have always been resourceful when it comes to researching, so this book was exactly what I needed to kind of give me that boost to get started. It was also a very fast read, and I highlighted and wrote throughout the book.
14. Have a Life Outside of Work
What do you do for fun? Play golf? Take salsa lessons? Are you a foodie that likes to wine and dine at new restaurants? Whatever it is that you enjoy doing, make the time to go do it. Get out in the fresh air and go for walks, take a yoga class. Do not spend all of your days cooped up in a cubicle and then in the house.
15. Set Intermittent and End Goals
Another habit of successful women is establishing both short-term and long-term goals. What is the point of setting long-term goals, if you don’t know the steps in how to get there? Whenever I set a new goal for myself, I do the research. Who did this before me? You’re not reinventing the wheel. What did they do to get there? For example, I get asked very frequently how I published my previous law review articles. I did the research and set intermittent goals, since my long-term goal was to have a law review publication. I researched the topic I wanted to write about and whether it was a current “hot topic” in the legal field. I then researched the thousands of law review journals that would accept the type of publication I was seeking to write. Next, I set a timeline for writing my rough draft. Once I completed my rough draft, I would then send the manuscript to the various law firms I selected for submission. Somehow, each law review article I’ve ever written has found its way to its new home with a law review journal. If I hadn’t set the intermittent goals in doing the proper research on how to get there, I wouldn’t have my publications.
16. Be Financially Savvy
I’m terrible at saving. I blame my father, who is an impulsive shopper – quite opposite from my thrifty mother. I think it’s because whenever my father wanted something, he’d just go out and buy it. That’s what I saw growing up. Whether it was a new big screen television or a brand new car, my father just went out and bought it. I don’t have that luxury thanks to law school, student loan debt and working as a government employee. Thus, I started reading Smart Women Finish Rich: 9 Steps to Achieving Financial Security and Funding Your Dreams by David Bach. My goal is to be better at saving, especially since I’m a new homeowner and need to maintain an emergency fund.
I also met one of my 2019 goals and created an investment account with Fidelity Investments. It’s been a goal of mine for many years now to start investing and I finally did it. Managing my Fidelity account is so easy! It took me literally five minutes, and I was purchasing stock the same day! Now, I research potential companies for stock purchases and beginning to develop my financial portfolio.
17. Have a Thankful Heart
Always say thank you. Maintain a heart of gratitude and it will get you a long way.
18. Find Your Creative Outlet
Since purchasing my home, I paid more attention to my creative side. Decorating my new home allows my creative juices to flow. I’m constantly on visual social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, researching decorating ideas for my home. Putting a room together allows me to use my thinking skills and my hands. Once the room is complete, I feel accomplished, just as I would at work, adjudicating a case. When I’m not decorating or doing something for the blog, I’m doing some creative writing. If you like to sew, sew. If you like to draw, draw. If you like to write, write. Schedule time for your creative outlet.
Sometimes, I don’t feel like reading a book or watching television but still want something creative to do. Adult coloring is my new decompression outlet when I want to be creative but don’t feel like putting in a lot of effort. Naturally, I found an adult coloring book that focuses on interior decorating.
20. Read at Least One Inspirational Book
If you’ve been following the blog or social media, you know that I LOVE psychological thrillers. But sometimes, it’s a little exhausting, constantly reading about stalkers and serial killers. Every once in a while, I’ll search for a non-fiction book that provides inspiration. I recently finished reading The Source of Self Regard by Toni Morrison. First, let me say, this was my first Toni Morrison experience. I know. Shame on me, an avid reader and had never read any of her fiction or non-fiction pieces. Nonetheless, I’m so glad that this was my first Toni Morrison experience. She talks about everything from current events and immigration to the root of racism in America. She also included several essays about literature as an art form, what it means to write profound pieces that address race and class, and the state of art itself. Those pieces were just as important to me, given that I am a writer by nature. My favorite essay is “Cinderella’s Stepsisters,” which focuses on feminism and ending women to women violence, particularly in the workplace.
21. Create a Music Playlist
I haven’t danced like no one is watching in a really long time. However, I will sing like no one is listening on a weekly basis. Music is the universal language. Belt it out like Beyonce.
22. Develop a Nighttime Routine — And Stick to It!
I previously posted “Spa Day Funday” on the blog, and provided my nighttime routine. Developing a nighttime routine, and sticking to it, is important in maintaining good sleeping habits. When I have a good night’s sleep, I am energized and refreshed in the morning. I’m not a morning person, so my sleep is very important to me. I also think that when you have children, it’s important to develop a nighttime routine for you and your kids. For example, growing up, I remember my mother set a bed time. There was no leeway in maneuvering that bed time and it only increased with age. Now as an adult, I keep the same habit of having a bed time for myself, making sure I’ve turned the diffuser on and phone off.
23. Clear Out Junk and Clutter
Have you watched Marie Kondo’s Tiding Up on Netflix? I greatly enjoyed it, as it encouraged me to start decluttering certain areas of my home. My main task for decluttering the home this year are tackling my closet space and my basement. There are so many clothing items that I haven’t worn or probably seen in forever. Clearly by Marie’s standards, they are no longer bringing me joy and need to go.
24. Disconnect from Technology
Turn the Netflix off; put your phone on silent and read a book. Read on the train. Read in the bathtub. Go for a run in the park. Do something where you can turn the power button off and relax without interruption.
25. Go to Your Local Museum
Last summer, I took my mother to the Smithsonian National Gallery of Art. It was absolutely breathtaking. Support your local art museums.
26. Use Aromatherapy and Candles
When I’m home, I always have candles burning. I love aromatherapy and how it relaxes me. I recently attended a candle making workshop, hosted by 228 Grant Street Candle Co. in Baltimore. It was so much fun! I got to learn about how soy wax candles are made and how to care for the candles to increase longevity. I will definitely attempt to make my own candle and mix fragrances.
27. Apologize and Forgive
My father always says that he doesn’t believe in apologies because most times, the individual intended to perform the act that was committed, and disregarded it’s potential offense to others. Whether it’s true or not, apologizing is often just as important as forgiving. I am a firm believer in being responsible for myself and my actions. Even when I don’t agree with the other person – and agree to disagree – an apology may be needed in an effort to move forward amicably and getting to forgiveness.
28. Rid Your Aura of Toxic People
I can’t stress this enough. If someone is not bringing value to your life, bringing more negative rather than positive energy, let them go. If that person is costing you time and / or money, let them go. Not everyone values you the way you deserve. Using your power of goodbye and removing toxic people from your life will save your energy for those who genuinely appreciate you.
29. Make Time for Family and Friends
My family has all moved to Florida. So, in between traveling south and visiting my parents, I also try to visit close friends. I meet my girlfriends once a month for dinner and drinks. I reach out to long-distance girlfriends via FaceTime. We are all very busy with our work, spouses and children. Schedule time for your family and separate time for your friends, to maintain a healthy balance outside of your work schedule.
30. Keep Smiling
I smile a lot. But when I’m in the worst mood, or some random anxiety is kicking in, I don’t want to smile. I’m stressed. Just remember, the storm doesn’t last forever. Smile.
31. Make Time for Yourself
Even if it’s just one or two hours a week, make time for yourself. Soak in the bathtub. Read a book. Go get that pedicure and massage. Make time for yourself. You’ll drive yourself crazy if you don’t. Self-care is so important for our mental, emotional and physical health. How can you truly maintain a healthy lifestyle if you’re constantly stressed, overworked and overwhelmed? Make that necessary time for yourself and then start the reset button. I recently read “Self-Care is Not An Indulgence. It’s a Discipline,” and the entire article emphasizes that although self-care can be rather boring, it is necessary and takes discipline. Self-care makes you mentally and emotionally stronger, a better spouse, parent and employee. Start disciplining yourself now and make time for yourself.