• thelegallybrunette

Season of self-care: making the time, keeping the habit

Updated: Mar 16, 2021

As February comes to an end and March arrives as a month of promise, I wanted to take the chance to explore the choices I have made so far this year for better self-care, now that we are heading into the Spring months and the hope of new life in nature is promised.

Hopefully, this might inspire a reader to pick up something that will help with their mental health and discover the little moments for self-care that are so important, especially in the perpetually connected and switched on environments that have developed during these unprecedented times. The phone is a constant companion, the laptop screen an ever-present reminder of tasks waiting to be done or even the lure of social media to occupy the mind

At the end of the day, what suits one person may not suit another. Myself, I am still learning about listening to what my mind and body need, and it has been a very positive journey.

Today, I just want to post some personal achievements, to take stock of success and what works to ultimately move forward to be better.

1. Daily walks - Taking a scenic route

A path covered in leaves winds towards the foreground, with a fence on the left and a stone wall on the right, with tall leafy green trees on both sides of the path,
A winding forest path. Copyright: Wanderlust Jessica

Taking a walk and listening to an entertaining podcast is where I take precious time for myself and improve my fitness, as well as reaching the daily goal of 10,000 steps or more. It is one of my goals to be able to have a decent jog on a flat and to feel a good amount of exertion, and that is something I am steadily building up to.

There were one or two days during the first half of February where I did not feel up to the task for one reason or another, when my body was refusing to cooperate due to exhaustion or stress, but I pushed through the fatigue on those days and ended up feeling much better after the exercise.

Obviously, the weather tended to be stormy and kept me from venturing out, but luckily, I gave the FiitOn app a try one week and did an enjoyable low impact cardio workout and a stretching routine afterwards.

There are a great variety of workouts from beginner to intermediate, from low impact to high intensity. As someone who really misses Zumba and barre classes, I will keep going with this app and having some variety with my fitness routine,

But if there was any day that I did not manage to venture out, it did not mean failure or giving up. Rest is just as important as the exercise, and there is always the opportunity to try again the next day.

It was also a wonderful chance to immerse myself in nature again, to see the budding flowers and the trees beginning to grow leaves again after the winter, to find a real source of calm and peace.

2. Engaging with online webinars

The legal profession is diverse and constantly evolving with new developments, statutory changes and experts offering their valuable advice from firms all across the country.

It has been one of my main goals to keep consistently up to date with relevant updates to practice and procedure, particularly in the areas that I am interested in and to be well informed as I begin my career as a newly qualified solicitor.

One particular upcoming series that is set to be immensely insightful is a probate expert suite of webinars hosted by Erin Research, a global heir tracing firm operating out of county Louth, that provides webinars delivered by knowledgable people, timely updates and developments of probate law as well as Continuing Professional Development points for solicitors. I will share their contact information below this post.

As well as webinars, finding the rich resources available on LinkedIn with articles and groups dedicated to the practical elements of the law in Ireland and neighbouring jurisdictions was a great discovery ever since beginning my traineeship and is something that I am taking full advantage of now that I am qualified.

Now I am spending my time on social media wisely rather than the often dreaded doom scrolling and encountering toxic spaces where misinformation is rife. The know-how transfer between experts in the profession and being able to educate myself has been such a crucial step and something that I intend to keep up well into the future.

3. Keeping in touch with friends and peers

Even though my monthly JCI Dublin meetings have been online for the past year, it is nevertheless a joy to connect with friends, to share in personal development training and attend national conferences hosted both in Ireland and abroad.

Being able to carve out time to listen to engaging speakers, gain soft skills such as negotiation and interview skills, learning how to cope during the pandemic or simply having fun during a quiz night, were all essential to thriving rather than surviving the pandemic.

Excitingly, I will be chairing the national debating competition at the annual JCI Ireland Spring conference in March, hosted by the local Galway branch and their fantastic team, which is an honour to be asked to participate. It is a central role, explaining the rules, presenting the teams and ensuring the event runs smoothly on time. There are great encouragement and support in the organisation, which is why I was delighted to be asked.

Taking the opportunity to be front and centre with confidence, as well as improving my public speaking is always one I will take without hesitation. Being able to participate in such roles in an encouraging environment where I am able to learn more about sharing my voice was always a great boost in all my years as a JCI member.

You can read more on my public speaking journey here.

4. Skincare routine

Even on days when I am not able to wear makeup, I still make it a priority each day to maintain a good skincare routine, having a routine each morning and night, putting on moisturiser and drinking plenty of water. It has been a good habit since my teenage years, when hormones and stress caused flareups and left me feeling quite self-conscious.

It was through finding products that worked for my skin type, ensuring I ate a good diet and taking Udo's Choice Omega 3 6 and 9 oil capsules to ensure that I did not encounter such issues again and to ensure I had a good dosage of essential fatty acids.

In terms of the power of skincare and ultimately, what the power of makeup is, I recall an episode of the Irish Times Women's Podcast, where Marian Keyes interviewed two beauty writers, Laura Kennedy and the late Aisling McDermott, who co-authored a beauty and skincare book, 'About Face', a savvy compendium about cosmetics, where it was noted that being able to apply even moisturiser each day is an act of love and to be able to wear makeup is a chance to feel better again.

Both women shared deeply moving stories about their personal lives, with Ms Kennedy's mother suffering from cancer and finding the strength of will to have her makeup done, and Ms McDermott's diagnosis of an aggressive form multiple sclerosis, yet found her passion and light in the world of makeup.

You can read more about the interview in this article published on the Irish Times website on the 30 November 2015 here .

5. Gratitude practice

The practice of gratitude has been a habit that I have picked up and dropped many times, but each time I revisited the practice, it has provided a much-needed boost for my mental health, as well as simply taking the time for myself to meditate, reflect and clear my mind.

The trouble was always finding the time or overlooking the importance of making gratitude a part of my routine, especially if work or study became demanding and took up so much energy.

The 'morning! - Gratitude Journal' app is one I would recommend for its design, colour scheme and notification settings that can be personalised so a daily moment to give thanks isn't missed. There are daily quotes to give inspiration and comfort, and as a fan of motivational quotes, this feature appealed to me.

I came across this app by chance while browsing and it will certainly assist me in making this habit stick going forward. I may even graduate to writing things down physically to reduce my screen time and invest in a beautiful diary and pen so I am free to write with flow and ease.

6. A kinder way of talking to myself

It is not a mystery that imposter syndrome is a persistent issue in the legal profession and beyond, and it is never a pleasant feeling to have.

The voice that consistently repeats such phrases as 'You failed. You will never get a job. You are a letdown' can be overwhelming and something that caused my mental health to suffer greatly.

Combined with a fear of being left behind, of not being up to the task, and the dread of having the imposter syndrome voice proved right, was a bad headspace to be in.

But now with the gratitude practice and taking time to meditate, taking a break from social media and other sources of dopamine, as recommended by a fellow JCI colleague, Heidi Pedersen, who delivered some excellent training during a recent members' webinar, as a method to improve motivation, my mindset and mood have shown signs of improvement.

It is no secret that the times we are living in are far from ideal and have been a genuine test of survival, of being able to adapt, but also to accept the fact that being in such pressurised situations is not usual and not the norm.

So I have chosen to choose the route of kindess, beginning first with myself, in taking the time to cultivate these mdinful habits, and hopefully bringing that energy into my daily life, into my future career and becoming a better, more grounded and successful solicitor.

We all have to start somewhere, after all.

Further links:

Erin Research: https://www.erinresearch.ie/

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