Adding “Me Time” Once Per Week [Mental Health Monday]

Mental Health Monday: "Adding Me Time Once Per Week" | Mental Health Matters | Mental Health | RachelPoli.com

As part of my mental health resolutions, I wanted to set aside some time each week to spend alone. I feel like I’m constantly working and even though I enjoy what I do, I still need some time to step back, relax, and unplug for a bit.

Wednesday

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I’ve decided to have some “me time” on Wednesday nights. I chose this night for a couple of reasons.

  1. It’s the middle of the week so it should serve as a nice break
  2. My sister and I alternate days cleaning from dinner and Wednesdays are her night – so, I have no “responsibilities” that night

My goal is to have some time for myself for an hour or two… or maybe three. At least an hour – that’s what I’m aiming for.

Of course, at the time of writing this post, the eight-year-old I babysit has horseback riding on Wednesdays now. This means I’ll get home late on Wednesdays and by the time I eat dinner and shower I might be ready for bed. So, we’ll see how this actually goes.

I’ll be flexible though. I can change my day to Thursdays or something. I’ll plan on Wednesdays but take it as a week-by-week basis.

Anyway, how did I do this?

I made a list

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First, I made a list of some self-care activities I’d like to do. In case you would like to steal any of these ideas, here they are:

  1. Take a bubble bath
  2. Organize Pokemon cards
  3. Color/Draw
  4. Journal
  5. Listen to music and/or create a new Spotify playlist
  6. Listen to a podcast
  7. Create a mood or vision board
  8. Create an aesthetic for one of my novels or characters
  9. Read
  10. Play video games
  11. Jigsaw puzzles
  12. Legos
  13. Veg with a movie/YouTube/Twitch
  14. Declutter or organize something
  15. Learn something new
  16. Retail therapy
  17. Create a collage or scrapbook
  18. Puzzles (Sudoku, word searches, etc.)
  19. Craft

Some of these activities might sound a bit weird. Organizing Pokemon cards? I have a ton. I’ve been collecting them since I was a kid and still do. Organizing them has always been therapeutic for me.

Reading and playing video games? I know, these are sort of considered “work” since I write reviews on a few different websites for these. But I still enjoy them and want to spend some time reading books and playing games I want rather than playing or reading something for the sake of a review.

Declutter or organize? I love cleaning. Cleaning is therapeutic for me and decluttering something will make anyone feel good, especially if it’s something that’s been building up for a while.

Learn something new? I have too many things I want to try or learn about. This is a great way to improve myself and focus on something else for a little bit.

Legos? Legos are fun.

Retail therapy? I actually never buy anything for myself. I’m a saver – which is a good thing – but I want to splurge on myself once in a while. Will I spend hundreds of dollars in one week on myself? No. I just want to buy something nice for myself, that’s all.

Only 19?

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Yes, only 19. I couldn’t think of anything else. So, what I did was write each activity down on a strip of paper three times. Three of the activities I wrote four times. So, I have 60 total inside a mug.

If you come up with anything else I could do, I’d love to hear it.

Considering I get home around dinner and (at this time) it’s pitch black outside around dinner and also (at this time) we’re still in a pandemic, I had trouble coming up with things to do outside of the house.

They’re in a mug on my desk

After making the list, I cut strips of scrap paper (colorful paper, of course) and write each activity on one. As I said, all activities are written three times and a couple of them are written four times.

I folded them and stuck them in a mug. I was going to steal a mason jar from my kitchen but I have quite a collection of mugs on my dresser and in my dresser drawers (because I have no room for them but I cannot part with them). So I took one of those mugs and now it’s my Self-Care Mug.

As I said, I don’t know if it will be every single Wednesday but I’m going to do my best to set aside time – even if it’s just an hour – every single week. I need this and I think it will help a lot in the long run.

Do you add “me time” to your routine? What do you do for self-care? Let me know in the comments below!

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Daily Self-Care Ideas [Mental Health Monday]

Everyone needs a break. We all need downtime. This isn’t just on the weekends, either. This is something we should be doing every day, even if it’s only one thing for an hour or so.

Mental Health Monday: Daily Self Care Ideas | Self-Care | Mental Health | Mental Health Matters | RachelPoli.com

Call a friend

I have to admit, I’m not the most social person there is. I’ve been more social in the past year or so than I’ve ever been, ironically enough. This is a good thing, of course, but there are times when we don’t want to socialize. We love our friends and family but we’d rather stay home in our pajamas, shutting out the rest of the world. This is okay too, once in a while.

However, something to do on a daily basis is to call a friend or family member, even if the conversation is only ten minutes. Check-in with them, let them check in with you. Let them know you’re thinking about them and you miss them.

Do not text them, either. Call them on the phone or FaceTime them. I personally hate talking on the phone, but you’ll feel better after hearing their voice or seeing their face.

Read a book

As a book reviewer, I’m always needing to read books. I’m always getting review requests from authors. I enjoy this and I love reading, so there’s no complaining about it over here.

However, sometimes you need to sit down and read a book you want to read. Don’t read something because you’re aiming to write a review on it for the blog. Don’t do it because an author is waiting for you to get through it. Read something that’s been on your TBR list for a while.

Of course, I try to review every book I read whether an author inquired about it or not, but when you’re reading something you picked up for yourself, try not to think about it. Just sit back and enjoy it.

Make a list

I don’t know about you, but I love making lists. It helps me feel organized and that calms me down. I make a list for everything – I have daily to-do lists, weekly to-do lists, and monthly to-do lists. I create a list of tasks for my jobs, a list of events I need to remember for the month and so on.

What I don’t make lists of often enough are positive ones. This is especially good to do when you’re having a rough day. Sit down and make a list of things you’re happy about. List the things you’re grateful for. List the things you love. List positive traits about yourself. List goals or make a bucket list.

Journal

This is a great place to store those positive affirmation lists you create. On the other hand, a journal is a great way to keep track of your good days as well as the bad ones.

Write down something that upset you and turn your thinking around to put a positive spin on it or things you can do to let it go.

Write down something good that happened to you to preserve the memory. Allow it to be something positive for you to look back on when you’re having a rough day.

Listen to music

Sometimes we just need to sit down and listen to some music. I personally love classical and instrumental songs. Those can be, for the most part, calming in themselves. However, if you prefer something more upbeat and hardcore, that’s fine too.

Take the time to put on some headphones, lay down, and listen to a couple of your favorite songs. This will allow you some alone time, decompress from the day, and meditate for a bit.

Color

I don’t know what it is about coloring, but it is so relaxing. Take a coloring book and work on a page or two. Alternatively, you can break out all the arts and crafts supplies you have and create something from scratch.

Whether you do it alone or you have a friend beside you, it’s a lot of fun, relaxing, and carries your worries away.

Take a bath

Throw in a bath bomb or bubble bath, light a candle, and soak in some warm water. Put on some light music or read a book, but soaking in a warm tub is one of the more glorious things ever. At least, in my opinion, it is.

I’ll admit, I don’t take baths in the summer (because who wants to sit in a cold tub regardless of the temperature outside)? Still, it’s a great thing to do when you have the winter blues or you just need some time alone.

Alternatively, you can sit in the shower for a long period of time as well. But the hot water will run out and that’s a sad thing, indeed.

Take a walk

If it’s a nice day outside, you might as well go for a walk and soak up some sunshine. A little exercise does everyone good. The vitamin D will help as well. You’ll feel better after getting up and moving for a bit.

On the flip side if the weather is lousy or it’s too cold, get up a move a bit in your house. You don’t need to have an in-home gym or exercise equipment. Just do some stretches or yoga. Not only does it keep your body in shape but it also takes your mind off some things.

Watch a movie

Put a movie you haven’t seen in a while. Watch one of your favorites. Watch something that makes you laugh. Or, put on something that will make you cry (sometimes you just get in that mood to have a good cry).

For me? I normally put on the Harry Potter movies. I always cry in movies six, seven, and eight. I laugh during every single one. It’s great storytelling with wonderful characters and actors. Plus, it’s just something familiar and makes me feel at home and at peace, despite them preparing for war.

Unplug

This is the most important one. Turn off your phone. Don’t watch the news. Stop checking your email. Don’t refresh any of your social media accounts. If you need to talk to someone, don’t text – call. If you’re going to read a book, pick up a paperback or hardcover. Give your eyes a break from the screen. If you’re home with family, get out a deck of cards or play a board game.

The possibilities of not having a screen in front of you are endless. Your brain and eyes will thank you for it later.

Take care of yourselves.

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Pace Yourself [Mental Health Monday]

Something that has always been hard for me is pacing myself when it comes to work, family, friends, and life in general. I’ve always had a hard time relaxing and this particular situation with COVID-19 has ironically helped me to slow down a bit.

Mental Health Monday: Pace Yourself | Self-Care | Mental Health Matters | Mental Health | RachelPoli.com

My old routine

It took me a long time to get into a routine with running a blog. Between creating content, adding images, social media marketing, engaging on social media and the comments, and everything in between, finding that right routine for it all was hard. There are only so many hours in each day.

I used to work on one project each day. For example, Sundays are for my Double Jump blog while Mondays were for this blog. The other days of the week had a specific project assigned to them as well. This worked for a little bit but it slowly tapered off. Once I checked something off my to-do list, it seemed I had added another three tasks to it.

Before I knew it, I was stressed and overwhelmed trying to get so many things done in one day. On top of that, I had to nanny in the afternoon, I’d get emails from my church of things to do there as well, plus other last-minute tasks that would worm their way onto my daily list.

How this lockdown has helped

I’ve fortunate I’m not sick and I don’t know anyone who is sick. I know people whose immune system is compromised (such as myself) and I have grandparents whose immune systems are shot. I know what it feels like to be scared that something may happen and we’re all doing the best we can to stay home and distance ourselves from friends and family. It’s hard, but it’s for the best.

I thank my lucky stars each day that I’m healthy and everyone I know is healthy. I pray for the people who have been affected by this virus physically and mentally and for those who know others who have been affected by this virus. It’s a terrible thing and we all need to do our best to stick together, do the right thing, and be kind to one another.

In a weird way, I feel as though this stay-at-home order is forcing me to slow down. The circumstances are weird and not good, but it’s allowed me to take some time to really look at my daily routines and figure out that I need some changes.

My workdays before quarantine 

I normally wake up early and jump into work right away (after grabbing a cup of coffee, of course). This work is blogging, writing, freelancing, business, book reviews, church stuff, anything and everything. Because I nanny in the afternoon, I cram it all in within five to six hours before leaving to get the kids from school. Then by the time I get home, it’s dinner, shower, and just about bedtime because I’m exhausted from the day.

Now that everything has been canceled and closed, I don’t need to nanny in the afternoons. Both parents are home so the kids and I FaceTime once in a while to keep in touch but that’s about it until this is over. I miss them and I miss the routine of going out every afternoon, but I now have four to five hours added back to my weekdays. For the time being, I no longer need to compress all my work into a few hours. I can stretch it the whole day.

The first week was rough

I didn’t know how the handle everything the first week. I buried myself in video games and ignored the outside world all the while constantly refreshing the news and getting mad at myself for it getting more and more stressed and scared. I got no work done so, on the second week, I knew I needed to do something. I needed to ease myself back into my routine, even though it was going to be a different routine.

I no longer needed to nanny in the afternoon. I no longer had to worry about church. (I’m still working for church, but I don’t need to worry about my Sunday school lessons at least). I work from home anyway, but now my mother was home. My sister was home every other day. My dad, unfortunately, still needs to go into work every day. My family is fine and they don’t bother me while I work, but it’s still odd to have them home anyway, especially when I’m on video calls or live streaming.

I needed to ease back into it

In between the news and getting used to being stuck inside the house all day with my family who are supposed to be at work, I realized I needed to ease myself back into working and also to find a new routine, even if it’s a temporary one. Well, this “temporary” routine seems to be working great for me.

Not only am I feeling productive throughout the day but I’m also finishing with enough time left over at the end of the night to play games with my family, watch a movie, have some “me” time, or chill with a video game or a book. The way I’ve changed my routine is the simplest thing too.

Pacing myself

I work on a lot of different things. I run two blogs, started a podcast, I live stream, I work at my church, I have my creative writing, do freelance work, and so much more. This is why I originally decided to dedicate one day to each thing, but that’s obviously didn’t work. The to-do list for each project is miles long and it’s so hard to get it all done within one day or even just a week or month.

I started looking at all the tasks I needed to do for each project and prioritized them. I started doing one task from each list every day. For example, I write one blog post for here a day. I write one blog post for Double Jump. Soon, I create a backlog of posts so if I ever need to skip a blog post for a day, that’s okay.

There are some projects that I don’t work on every day. There are some projects I do multiple tasks for each day depending on when they’re due and/or how time-consuming the are.

I don’t know why I haven’t done this before. Doing one task for each category has, somehow, allowed me to get so much more done during the day. I’m even back into my routine of working on my novels daily. (That’s also a huge thanks to Camp NaNoWriMo but it’ll keep going through May and beyond… I assume it will, anyway.)

Pacing yourself is so important

I rambled a bit in this post and I didn’t mean to. I mostly meant to discuss the importance of pacing yourself and what I’m doing. I threw so much backstory in there, but… this isn’t a novel. I’m not editing it out. If you read it, good for you. Thanks. If you skimmed and skipped to this part, good for you too.

We all need to work so we can make money and survive in this weird world. However, in order to work smart we need to take care of ourselves. That includes getting a good night’s sleep, eating healthy, getting a decent amount of exercise… but it also means taking care of your brain. You can’t expect yourself to work on everything at once and do it all in one day.

I don’t know why I always thought I could. I’ve been finishing my day around dinner time if not before. It’s been a normal work day for people with day jobs. I start between six and seven in the morning and I’m done around three or four in the afternoon. It’s a great feeling. I’m less stressed about my work because I feel like I’m making progress on everything throughout the day. Not to mention I’m able to spend more time with my family and have some downtime to relax, something I rarely do.

My sleep schedule is still off (it always is) but I feel somewhat refreshed each day. There have been days where I’ve worked so much that the next morning, my brain doesn’t want to do anything. It doesn’t matter if I slept well or not, I overworked it the day before and it still wasn’t ready to get back into it. Now I’m able to wake up and keep that timely routine of getting my work done in a good time.

Take this time to take care of yourself

Some of us are stuck at home. Some of us are still working. Some are taking care of others, some are worried about their family and friends. The best thing we can do right now is to adjust to this new (but temporary) “normal.” A great way to do that is to find a good routine to keep things as normal as possible but pace yourself in doing so. Take the time to hang out with your family and enjoy the nicer weather.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must go practice what I preach.

Take care of yourselves.

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Checking In [Mental Health Monday]

It’s been a hot minute since we’ve had a Mental Health Monday. A lot of things have changed within the past couple of months and, instead of writing an article about mental health, I figured we can use this time as a check-in.

Mental Health Monday: Checking In | Mental Health | Mental Health Matters | Self-Care | RachelPoli.com

What’s going on with me

It’s no secret I’ve been in hiding the past year or so. I felt awful putting my blog on hiatus but there was no sense in me continuing to write blog posts when I had no ideas, no motivation, and no means to interact in the comments. Everything felt like a chore. I’ve missed you guys and I mean no offense to anyone who reads and supports my work, but it was hard to keep up with it all for a while.

I tried to come back a couple of times, but those times only resulted in me writing a, “I’m Back!” post and then disappearing for another month or two. I eventually decided to save it for January – new month, new year, a new decade. Makes sense, right?

Except life doesn’t exactly take into account the date. If you’re having a rough time, it’s not all going to go away simply because a month or the year has come to an end. What you put off today will still be there tomorrow. Bottled up feelings and energy will be there when you wake up the next morning.

It’s easy to say, “There are three days left of the month and it’s been a wash. Let me make plans for the following month and I’ll start fresh on the first.”

Honestly, this works sometimes. But a lot can happen in those three days whether you decide to start early or wait to begin that list. If you wait, something else might come up and you’ll find yourself saying the same thing a month from now.

I worked on stuff. I did things behind the scenes to prep the blog and my other creative projects for 2020. When 2020 came, I wasn’t ready to get back into it. There was still behind-the-scenes work to be done and I continued that instead.

Back to blogging

They always say it’s hard to get back into the swing of things after a long hiatus. For example, if you’re sick and need to miss school for a week. It’s so hard to go back the following Monday morning. Your classmates bombard you with questions, you have a ton of make-up work to do, and you need to get back into your routine of waking up early and doing homework in the afternoons.

I think that was partly my feeling when I thought of blogging again. I wasn’t ready to commit to a daily schedule again. Between brainstorming content, writing the content, creating graphics, social media scheduling, reading and replying to comments, and everything in between on top of all my other projects.

Needless to say, I changed that. I may still be creating daily content but most of it isn’t something I need to do daily. My social media schedule has lessened. If I skip a day here or there of publishing a blog post, then so be it. I won’t beat myself up over it.

Weekly Mental Health Monday

With all that said, Mental Health Monday is now a weekly feature on the blog instead of monthly. It sounds backward considering I said I was going to lessen my content and I’m moving a monthly feature to weekly, but I think this is needed.

Not just for me, but for you guys as well.

What’s happening with the world

Aside from it being hard to get back into the swing of things in January, something else happened that month (which I’ll speak about in a separate Mental Health Monday post soon – nothing too alarming, everything is okay) and also COVID-19 took over the world.

By the time the virus got to where I live, it was late February/early March. (I think. I’ve lost track of all days at this point.) The news constantly updates. Something is changing every moment of every day. It’s hard to keep track of it all and yet, there are days when I try not to keep track of it all. When this all started I found myself constantly refreshing Twitter. Every time the governor was on TV, I sat down and watched or asked my mom for an update.

I never watch the news. The news is depressing and it freaks me out.

Everything has been turned upside. I lost my nannying job since the kids aren’t in school and both parents are now working from home for the time being. I miss the kids, of course, and it is nice to have those extra hours added to my day so I can work on my business and creative projects. However, I’m a freelance writer, I’m in business for myself. I still nanny because it’s a steady stream of income for me and I’ve lost that.

My two closest friends got laid off from their jobs. My mom is home but my sister and dad are considered “essential” workers. Who knows what they’re coming in contact with or what they’re bringing home. Our routines are totally up in the air right now.

We’re lucky enough that no one is sick and we don’t know anyone who is sick, but we’re still staying away from each other as much as possible. My cousins can no longer come over for dinner. My uncle gave my mom flowers the other day but he didn’t come inside the house.

We’re living in weird times. It’s unnerving and it’s sad.

I don’t know how long this is going to last. I do know that even when the virus has had enough, the effects from it will linger on for a while. I hope we’ll be much better, kinder people when this is all over.

Welcome back, Mental Health Monday

With that said, this feature needed to come back. We need to stick together, be kind to one another, and check in on our friends (real-life and internet), family, and neighbors.

I’m thinking the first Mental Health Monday of each month will be a short and sweet check-in post. Similar to this one, but much shorter and less of a rant. (I felt the need to explain myself about where I’ve been and what I want to do with this feature.)

I’d like for everyone to keep in touch and keep each other’s spirits up. I want this all the time too, not just because a virus has been spreading through the world. Hopefully, this will help someone out there.

How are you guys?

So, let’s check in with one another. How are you guys doing? What have you been up to? I hope you’re all safe and healthy. Let me know in the comments below and we’ll catch up. If you need to talk, I’m here.

Take care of yourselves.

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Goals for April 2020

Well, here we are. It’s April 2020. It’s hard to believe we’re in a new decade, new year, new month. I’m late to the party, I know, but this is no April Fool’s joke – I’m back.

Goals for April 2020 | Creative Writing | Blogging | Reading | Self-Care | RachelPoli.com

Writing

Aside from freelance jobs and the occasional blog post or article here and there, I’ve barely written anything. When I say that I mean I haven’t written creatively in about a year. In 2019 I wrote during Camp NaNo and the regular session of NaNoWriMo in April, July, and November respectively, but that’s it. Even then, two of those months were spent working on Short Story Sunday for the blog. I didn’t work on novels at all.

I’m anxious to get back to my novels, especially my mystery series. It’s been on hold for far too long and I want to give it the attention and time it needs. I can’t wait to share it with the world. It deserves to be seen after being in my head for nine years.

It’s Camp NaNo this month and I’ll be working on George Florence and the Perfect Alibi. Again, I know. But hey, it’ll be the best it can be whenever it does see the light of day.

As for creative writing, that’s all I’m going to work on this month. I want to get back into things slowly and be sure I give all my attention to George and Lilah. I have big plans for them. I just need to implement them now.

Reading

In addition to being in a writing slump for the past year, I’ve barely read any books. I’ve been struggling with reading – mostly because I can’t focus on it. It’s not that I like or dislike a book, my mind just wasn’t motivated to sit for 10 minutes to read a chapter of something.

I’ve been slowly getting back into this. So, my goal for this month is to publish two book reviews for the month of April. It’d be great if I can start writing a review a week again, but I’m going to take it slow and enjoy the books I have at the moment.

Blogging

Things on this blog are going to change. I’m not going to go into too much detail about it – you’ll see should you stick around to read it.

There’s a lot happening on this blog and I’m working on so many projects. I primarily made this blog to be an author platform. So, I’d like to start discussing my books more. At the same time, I want to branch out and talk more about life and other things. There’s more than just reading and writing, did you know that?

There will still be writing prompts, book reviews, a weekly short story, and such. However, there will only be one or two times a week I’ll share an article that has to do with reading or writing. (This made better sense in my head – this is why I said I wasn’t going to go into too much detail about it.)

Most of my articles, however, will be on Medium. I’ve been using that platform a lot lately. So, if you want to keep up with more writerly articles and such, feel free to give me a follow over there. I love WordPress, of course, but Medium has been a nice change of scenery for me. It’s another great community as well.

I’ll be sharing a lot here but extra creative articles will be on Medium.

Thanks for sticking me through my hiatus and while I make slight changes to the blog here and there. I appreciate it.

Self-Care

One of the reasons I’m making changes on my blog is due to self-care. I’ll be still publishing daily, but most of it will be able to be written well in advance so I don’t need to stress over content too much – especially since I’m also on Medium. That’d be overkill.

Starting this month, I’ll be adding regular self-care into my routine. After a year of being on hiatus and stopping most of my creative work (I say most because I was still working on a few projects behind the scenes – The Merry Writer Podcast being a prime example), this is certainly needed for myself and honestly, I think all of us.

Mental Health Mondays will no longer be the first Monday of the month but every Monday of the month.

I haven’t fully figured this one out yet, but I’ll be adding a self-care routine to my life.

I think now is as good a time as any to do this. With everything happening in the world right now – the virus, the news, anything and everything in between – self-care should be at the top of everyone’s to-do list. I’ll explain more details about it on Monday.

With that said, I hope everyone is safe and healthy. We’re living in a weird time right now. It’s stressful and scary, but this is something we’ll overcome.

So, how have you guys been lately? Let me know in the comments below and we’ll catch up!

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