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Ok, honestly – it’s been tough. Who knew that lockdown could be so emotionally and mentally draining? I’ve certainly had days where things have felt easier, and days where things have felt hard. Sometimes though, we’ve got to wade through the difficult days and come out the other side stronger and more resilient. This time has really taught me to slowww down. I was going pretty fast before; filling my calendar with every, single possible commitment I could and being so “busy”, I didn’t have any time for myself. I get my energy from being busy and productive, for sure – but this time away from a daily tube commute and endless diarised dates has been a stark reminder that we all need a bit of self-care.

This year has been turned upside down by a million and one things, and we’ve been faced with new challenges throughout the last few months. With this change of situation and circumstance though, I know so many people who have viewed these challenges not as hurdles to overcome, but as new opportunities for a fresh start. We’ve all had to adapt so quickly to an ever-changing situation and when things are shaken up like that, it can be tough to stick to a routine that makes you feel some kind of normal. You’ve got to give yourself some compassion though with so much going on. I know for one that I occasionally berate myself if I haven’t worked out hard enough or didn’t get out for a walk during the day. This is not a normal situation and so we need to be happy and healthy rather than trying to push ourselves to be on form 24/7.

Strawberries

Here are my very favourite self-care tips for any of you looking to look after you:

Prep your meals

Even though you may feel as though you have *more* time being at home during lockdown, in actual fact making endless lunches during a one hour lunch break was causing so much stress in my life. When I was going into the office, I’d prep my food on a Sunday for the entire week – so why change that now? It’s so easy to forget to feed ourselves well, but with a little planning a few days ahead of time, you can nail it in a few hours. Write out what meals you want to cook, and what you’ll need to make them them, then only order exactly what you require. Buy cheap Tupperware and weigh everything out evenly to spread across five days. You don’t have to eat the same thing every day. I like to mix it up a little but it makes such a difference having everything ready to go.

Take time out
I started using Headspace a year or so ago, because I found it hard to relax at night and sleep soundly. It stopped my brain from whirring and spiralling into unknown places that would keep me wide-eyed at 3am. They have a million and one topics – including a dedicated sleep section, sequences on chronic pain {another useful one I follow} to self-confidence, anxiety and more!

Move your body
Walking and taking time in the outdoors to really appreciate the trees, and sky, and the smells of woodland also helps me recenter. I usually plan a 1hr walking route, plug myself in to a podcast and put my phone in my pocket for the duration to immerse myself in some educational learning and nature. My boyfriend jokes that I’m like a Labrador puppy that needs it’s walkies on a daily basis – and honestly, I may have been one in a previous life because he’s totally right. I go pretty stir crazy if I haven’t been outside during the day. There are also so many great apps, and Instagram lives that are happening at the moment for you to get involved in a workout. Check them out!

A good skincare routine
Ok, so I hit 30 last month and used to be soo bad at taking my make up off at night. *So* bad, you guys! I’m an early to rise, early to bed kinda person and as soon as I’m dozing off at 9:30pm that’s me done for the day. Now, I brush my teeth and wash my face straight after dinner. I had a few freckles as a child and now that I’m a little older, I’ve noticed them appearing more prominently. I recently invested in some good serum and night cream {I love Murad}, and a Gua Sha massage stone that I use every single day. I use to always avoid spending a little more money on good products, but now I truly see the value in spending a few extra bucks and pampering myself. I also highly advise putting your make up on and doing your hair every single day. It’ll make you feel so much better.

Does it bring you joy?
Marie Kondo, I hear ya! Get rid of anything that doesn’t bring you joy. Use this time to clear out your wardrobe, your kitchen cupboards, clean your shoes {and throw out the tattered ones}. My boyfriend and I are always talking about a minimal lifestyle and regularly have a clear out to make sure we’re not hoarding anything we don’t need. Yeah, things are nostalgic but when they’re hidden away in a cupboard for years, how often do you really think about them? Out of sight, out of mind.

Get your sleep. 
I’m an early morning gym-goer, which means waking up at 5:30am most days. I was trying to do this after going to bed at 11pm every night and realised pretty soon I was burning out. Now I go to bed early {I’m talking 9:30pm} to get a full eight hours before my alarm goes off. Sleep is so important, and your pre-bedtime routine is also a chance to take things at a slower pace and start winding down for the day.

Eat the goddamn chocolate. 
Like seriously, if you want some chocolate, eat it. Dark chocolate in particular is my fave – scientifically proven to reduce stress *and* boost our endorphins, fact. I’m a fan of Valrhona, Guittard, Pump Street and Lindt.

Do something for you. 
When I worked in Leicester Square a few years ago, I used to walk to Waterstones bookshop in my lunch break and find a few good cookbooks and baking books from the shelves to squirrel away into a corner with me. For the whole hour. I loved the silence amongst the hustle and bustle of central London, and the escapism of it all. Now I LOVE LOVE LOVE listening to podcasts or reading a good book during lockdown {ok, it’s not the same but we’re almost on par}. I’m a big fan of learning and educating myself, and this is such a beautiful way to do so.

Cook or bake
For me, this is a hugely therapeutic way to spend an afternoon. Take your time cooking or baking something you love, that’s going to nourish your soul, with a great playlist or podcast on in the background. And then fully switch off from everything else going on around you. My boyfriend and I spend our Sunday night date nights cooking together, and talking about everything and anything – just reconnecting *properly* before starting a new week. I recently made Nigella’s Madeira cake and served it with strawberries and cream for dessert, and you all wanted the recipe. So here it is – all credit to the wonderful Nigella Lawson.

Nigella's Madeira Cake

Nigella Lawson’s Madeira Cake

240g unsalted butter (softened)
200g caster sugar (plus extra for sprinkling)
Grated zest and juice of 1 unwaxed lemon
3 large eggs
210g self-raising flour
90g plain flour

You’ll need a loaf tin that is buttered and lined with baking parchment. I usually cut a net of the tin so the corners fit exactly.

  1. Preheat your oven to 170C/150C Fan/Gas mark 3/325F.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together using an electric whisk, then add the lemon zest, scraping around the sides of the bowl before whisking once more.
  3. In a separate bowl, measure out the flours and mix to combine.
  4. Add the eggs to your creamed butter mixture one at a time with a tablespoon of the combined flours for each, whisking after each addition.
  5. Once the eggs have been added, whisk in the rest of the flour and, finally, the lemon juice. The mixture will be relatively thick but this is ok.
  6. Pour into your prepared tin and then sprinkle with caster sugar (approx. 2tbsp) before it goes into the oven.
  7. Bake for 1 hour or until a wooden skewer or sharp knifes comes out clean.
  8. Leave to cool in the tin on a wire rack, before turning out completely.

Recipe from Nigella Lawson’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess

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