I spent the last few days of my 10 week Middle Eastern trip in Paris, oddly enough.
It made sense to go. After all, I’m moving abroad in a few weeks (although OMFG, am I repressing the hell out of my feelings right now), and because I haven’t seen one of my dearest school friends in Paris since she moved there from London five years ago, I thought I would quickly pass through before it became another five years of us just occasionally meeting for (albeit incredible) Indian food in the streets of where we grew up.
It was a beautiful three days.
Because, ignoring shoving my huge 60L full-to-capacity backpack on the Parisian Metro during morning rush-hour from the airport to her home (I advise against this), and being refused entry on my Eurostar train to take me home to London because I was a mere five fucking minutes too late for check-in, meaning I had to pay extra and get home later, the damn money swindlers (I also advise against this), it was a relaxing weekend.
A relaxing weekend because it was filled with wine, wine, wine!
I joke, but after not having had a drink in over two months, it was great to simply sit back with a joint, a glass of chilled white and enjoy some fabulous company.
But yet, I didn’t just learn about how delicious a cheap wine can be. Nope. Because I also learned about self-care, and just how important it is. I’ve been wanting to get into self-care for over a year now, ever since I read a book on Hygge that my bestie bought me, and whilst I’ve been reading advice from fellow bloggers on perhaps doing a weekly bath with candles and scents, or meditating, or buying some flowers, etc. I’ve never actually done anything suggested, or even attempted to. And that’s largely because I thought that, in reality, I genuinely had enough self-care in my life.
You see, when I’m not travelling, I’m usually exercising three to four times per week, doing face-masks, cooking, painting my nails, reading a book, buying soy caramel machiattos for an extortionate price, etc. In essence, I do quite a damn lot of self-care, and to do any more would just be selfish compared to those who don’t even have enough time to sit down and have dinner.
Or so I thought.
Because it wasn’t until I went to Paris and visited my friend did I realise that I was doing ‘self-care’ all wrong.
I was doing it wrong because I was doing self-care with a controlled, critical mindset: ‘You must exercise, so you look good’ (not ‘you should exercise, so you feel good.’)
‘You must do this face-mask, to try and reduce your acne’ (not, ‘you should do this face mask, so your skin is brighter and healthier.’)
‘You must paint your nails, because they’re weak and destroyed and putting colour on them will deflect attention’ (not, ‘you should paint your nails, because you’ll love it.’)
And so on and so forth. I was doing self-care physically, but mentally… certainly not. Yet in Paris, we went FULL-ON! Each night was filled with delicious vegan dinners (ignoring dieting, calorie counting or any other form of restriction), desserts of cookie sandwiches stuffed with huge hazelnuts and salted caramel ice-cream, decadent hot chocolate laced with rum, gorgeous, crisp, unlimited wine, and days spent doing nothing but lazing about, watching the likes of Nip/Tuck and Insecure and having long, hot showers.
I didn’t think about anything but the enjoyment of it all, and it felt fucking good.
So now I’m back in the UK, having just watched the World Cup final, and I’ve got a homemade tomato sauce on the stove, a sugar scrub for my body, and I’ve picked out a polish for my toenails later. I’m doing self-care right tonight, because I’m doing it positively. I’m thinking of how lush my skin will feel once its soft and moisturised to perfection, of how my toenails are going to pop in the wedges I’ll wear tomorrow because we have gorgeous weather at the moment, and of how stuffed and satisfied I’ll feel after a healthy meal at home and not on the road. I mean, I’m finally in my own kitchen again, with access to a huge range of ingredients and utensils!
Put simply, being in Paris with my girl who is big into self-care (indeed, she was doing a cocoa-coffee-sugar lip scrub whilst I was doing my eyeliner in the same mirror), has inspired me to actually follow suit this time. Hell, I might even wake up earlier tomorrow and do a sunrise yoga routine, just because I’m in the mood to nourish my body and mind. And really, why should I argue with that?