To be chic, you need a measure of inner peace. How can you be soignée if you’re reactive – flying off the handle or huffing about with a stressed-out air?
We’ll cover many aspects of inner peace at A Chic Life, but now let’s address one piece of a calmer life: a simple self-care plan. Here are 5 steps to get you started…
1. To cultivate inner peace, start small
Ask yourself, what would bring you greater tranquility? How could you better care for yourself and manage stress? You may have visions of your own chef, weekly in-home massages, and a personal assistant (just me?) – but don’t over-engineer, especially if your current self-care plan comprises a box of wine. We don’t want to raise the net pressure in your life by setting the bar too high and expecting too much change.
One of my mantras is: it’s better to succeed at what you can do than fail at what you should do. So let’s make it easy to support our self-care by taking a few modest steps.
So the first step in cultivating your own self-care practice is to be gentle with yourself and commit to baby steps.
2. Remove something that robs you of inner peace
Next, think of commitments or habits that stress you out. You know the culprits – you dread their approach and feel cranky when they’re done.
- Volunteer for one less thing at your kids’ school?
- Drop nightly overtime and leave work on time two days a week?
- Attend fewer extended-family events?
Choose one or two you’d like to stop.
3. Add something that relaxes you
Now think of activities that refresh and renew you. They could be gently peaceful or raucus fun – what matters is that they help you release stress and reset.
- Take a short walk first thing?
- Enrol in an African drumming class (one of my friends does this and loves it)?
- Schedule weekends away in advance?
Choose one or two you’d like to start.
One of my mantras is: It’s better to succeed at what you CAN do than fail at what you SHOULD do.
4. Be honest about what brings you inner peace
There’s a trap many people fall into when choosing activities for their self-care plans. They think about what works for others instead of focussing on what comforts them.
I’ve learned over the years to be mindful of two factors.
One: I’m a nerd and an introvert, most restored by fun work, meaningful conversation, reading, creative projects, specific types of TV, and puzzles. You can judge me, it’s okay! Before I made peace with my introverted nature, I would schedule social events as self-renewal, and couldn’t work out why I felt worse, not better.
Two: My apartment is a minimal, uncluttered, simple but elegant space. It’s a true pleasure to be at home – so going away to escape is not restorative. (Traveling to experience the world is another matter.) I’ve made the mistake of taking a trip because it’s what people do to relax – and I couldn’t wait to come home. It was stressful!
Ignoring your inner voice and seeking calm in conventional ways will leave you needing to de-stress from your strategy to de-stress. So my tip for you is: do what relaxes you. Ignore what works for anyone else.
Ignoring your inner voice and seeking calm in conventional ways will leave you needing to de-stress from your strategy to de-stress. So my tip for you is: do what relaxes YOU.
5. Look for more self-care ideas and inspiration
This is my current self-care plan. Even if you’re not nerdy, you may find ideas in my approach to self-renewal.
You could also ask friends how they practice self-care for themselves. Keep trying different things and notice how it feels. You’ll soon get a feel for the self-care practices that bring you greater inner peace.
Here’s what I aim for:
- Completing the Sydney Morning Herald crossword with my breakfast (hot buttery toast and a large strong flat white) while playing soft classical music in the background every morning – this makes me so happy
- Meditating most days for 10 to 20 minutes – sometimes guided, sometimes silent
- Working out at 5 or 6 BodyCombat classes most weeks – to let off steam and ‘earn’ my treats
- Being well groomed – two-monthly haircut, quarterly or six-monthly color, monthly pedicure in warm months, weekly DIY manicure (filing and buffing, no color)
- Watching a selected TV show before bed to ‘switch gears’ after work – otherwise I lie awake for hours pondering my projects
- Scheduling regular one-on-one dinners with each of my closest friends
- Limiting social dates to two per week, max
- Graciously declining social events I don’t wish to attend (this took so much practice!)
- Batching errands – I keep a running list and tackle as many as I can fortnightly
- Reading in bed at night to lull myself to sleep
- Keeping up with annual medical and dental checks
- Having Friday as my day off – I have the place to myself, and I don’t mind working on weekends instead, when Craig is home.
When I commit to these practices, I feel a baseline level of serenity. I get anxious and overwhelmed at times but I’m less inclined to over-react and better able to manage stress when it inevitably comes along.
Better self-care, greater inner pace, a more chic life
I’m more highly strung than some and I’ve built this self-care plan up over many years of tuning in to what stresses me out and what calms me down. When I commit to these practices, I feel a baseline level of serenity. I get anxious and overwhelmed at times but I’m less inclined to over-react and better able to manage stress when it inevitably comes along.
I’d like to tweak a few things.
- I’d love to learn modern calligraphy as a hobby. I’ve bought books, markers, and an online course – now to schedule it in…
- I’m enjoying work, but my hours are long. I know it will balance out when I finish the current phase of my project and take more downtime.
- My medical and dental appointments are spread throughout the year, and I dislike feeling there’s always something I need to do. I want to schedule everything in one health-blitz month – perhaps January when I’m relaxed after a Christmas break.
I cherish self-care and the way it supports a peaceful and chic lifestyle. My self-care plan may seem daunting to you, or indulgent (that’s okay, we each need only our own approval). You know what you need, and you’ll have to experiment and fine tune over time.
I’m not perfect with my plan (or anything), and that imperfection is also part of my self-care. But it’s a good template. It helps make me a kinder, happier, more chic human.