Focusing on Self Care

Thank you to my friends at Mirum for sponsoring this post! All opinions are, of course, my own

It's fall! My absolute favorite time of year, despite its brevity. I love the cool weather, even in the rain, and I love the festive, pre-holiday feelings. It's a great time to bust out your best pumpkin, cinnamon, vanilla, and spice scented candles, cuddle in oversized sweatpants and a fluffy blanket, and read a book! To me, fall is the ultimate season of self care.

I've talked pretty extensively on here about the importance of self care and mental health care. It's something very important to me and my overall wellness, and I love to share tips and tricks as I discover them to help you live your life in a way that promotes your overall wellness. 

I've rounded up a few of my self care essentials for this fall and winter to help carry you through both the festive holiday season and into January and February, when the winter blues may start to take hold.

Snag a new book

I can't stress enough how relaxing and excellent for morale and your mental health snagging a new book to read can be. I like to make an event of it, especially on dreary days. I close my blinds, light my favorite fall inspired candles (I love cinnamon, pumpkin, and vanilla based scents!) brew a hot chocolate or my favorite herbal tea, and curl up in sweatpants and a nest of blankets on my couch. Sometimes, I even pull out my couch bed and make a giant pile of pillows and blankets to read in! Not sure what books to read? I've got some suggestions!

  • Two Turns from Zero, by Stacey Griffith: The incredibly inspiring memoir of SoulCycle savant Stacey Griffith. If you're looking for inspiration to get your life together, look no further.
  • Scrappy Little Nobody, by Anna Kendrick: A lighthearted, funny, but thoughtful memoir by Anna Kendrick. I don't want to spoil it, so just trust me it's funny and fantastic.
  • The Brave Athlete, by Lesley Paterson: I'm working my way through this one currently. This book exists to help you overcome the anxiety associated with competing.
  • Battle Royale, by Koshun Takashi: This book is the clear inspiration for the Hunger Games, so much so that there was a lawsuit over it. But fair warning, unlike the Hunger Games, it is graphic.
  • The 10th Kingdom, by Kathryn Wesley: Cheesy, feel-good fantasy/romance. There's an equally cheesy, perfect mini series you can watch as well!
  • IT, by Stephen King: A classic. Check it out before you watch the new film!
  • Rose Madder, by Stephen King: My personal favorite Stephen King work, involving an abused wife escaping her abusive officer husband, who has the resources to hunt her down.

Go for a run (yes, outdoors!)

One of my favorite ways to clear my head and catch a nice rush of endorphins is to go (outside) for a run! Yes, I know it's getting chilly, but running outside gives such a different feeling than running on a treadmill. Go outside and enjoy the crisp air and the fresh feelings that autumn and winter bring. I promise you won't regret it! Some tips to enjoy a chilly run are below:

  • Layers are your friend! I always wear full length tights, a sports bra, a t-shirt, and at least one outer layer, like a running half zip. You can always remove the half zip as you warm up! Sometimes I'll throw an extra layer like a windbreaker on top of that.
  • Wear reflective clothing! This is so important as fall fades to winter and we lose precious daylight for our runs. Even if you're on a running path, try to have at least TWO reflective pieces of clothing.
  • Gloves and Hats are important even on runs that might not feel very cold. Take care of your ears and fingers!
  • Invest in some thick socks. Wool is both sweat wicking and cozy and warm for those chilly runs!
  • Skip the water bottle unless you're on a very lengthy run. Even the best bottles can leak and the last thing you want are wet hands/gloves in the cold.
Photo by Stephen Cheong-Leen.  Website here.

Photo by Stephen Cheong-Leen. Website here.

Try a new yoga class

It's always when we're at our busiest that we completely forget about yoga. Of all things to forget, we forget a practice devoted to nothing more than continues self love and improvement. When you start to feel stressed, overwhelmed, or even just get that "blah" feeling, I challenge you to return to yoga. If you don't have a studio nearby, there are tons of online options to get you going, but I highly recommend a studio! To my Chicago readers, I'm a huge fan of Lauren Bellagamba's class. She keeps it modern with some hip hop tunes playing quietly in the back but remains true to yoga's roots in her connection of the body to the spirit. You can catch her all over the city, so follow her on instagram to see where she is next! (@lauren_d_bellagamba)

Photo by Stephen Cheong-Leen.  Website here.

Photo by Stephen Cheong-Leen. Website here.

Schedule a Self Care Date

Sometimes you just need to stay in and chill. Along with reading a book as I mentioned above, trying a new face mask (I love charcoal based masks) paired with a bubble bath and a glass of wine (or kombucha, or just water with lemon in a fancy glass) can be good for the soul. I'm a fan of Self Care Sundays, where I can take a bath, do a facemask, deep condition my hair and enjoy a glass of wine while catching up on Netflix (the new season of Stranger Things will be here so soon!) After all that, I like to sit down and plan my week with my iCal and my planner! It really gets me prepped and centered for the week.

Journal and/or Plan

What is it they say? "A Sunday well-spent brings a week of content" is I believe the phrase. Regardless, I live by it. While I practice my self care, like face masks and hair masks, I like to take time to plan out my week. There's something comforting about seeing all of my responsibilities for the week written down on paper (and duplicated in my phone, in case I'm anywhere without the planner). Additionally, I like to take a few minutes to write a few things down in my journal, even if it's not much, and especially if I'm stressed. Much like planning on paper, I find comfort in writing things out. I've been a little blue lately, and one of the major factors in getting my head on straight and quelling anxiety, is writing my thoughts, feelings, and plans on paper.

Explore your neighborhood/city

My favorite thing about living in Chicago is that it's always changing. You never see the same city twice, as it is always evolving and growing around you. One thing I really enjoy is taking Oliver for a walk around my neighborhood and the lakefront path and just soaking everything in. Conversely, I like visiting Stephen in Highland Park because he shows me both really neat things (like Cameron's house from Ferris Bueller's Day Off) and truly beautiful things, like the beautiful lakefront park near his house. There's something freeing, exciting, and centering about exploring new and familiar areas; you never know what you're going to find, and it's a fun, free stress-reliever! Stressed from work or life in general? Take a walk with no end point in mind--explore! You never know the beautiful, unique, and incredible things you might find when you set out to wander with no destination in mind. Take a deep breath, and truly take a look around you. In Chicago? I highly recommend taking a walk down State Street and Astor Street in the Gold Coast neighborhood during the fall and winter to look at the holiday decorations! Halloween is my personal favorite--Astor Street goes all out, and on the corner of Schiller and Dearborn there's a large, old (cornerstone says 1877!) red brick home that has an incredible display. Get out there and explore!

Photo by Stephen Cheong-Leen.  Website here.

Photo by Stephen Cheong-Leen. Website here.

Keep up your immune system (vitamin regimine)

One thing I always seem to forget is that because I eat a lot of garbage food (currently eating my weight in Affy Tapples, as you can see on my Instagram stories) I need to make sure I'm getting enough of two vitamins that make a world of difference for me: Vitamin D and Vitamin C. Vitamin D helps keep my spirits up and ward of a bit of the winter blues, and Vitamin C keeps my immune system strong enough that I can participate in all of the activities I love, like my running. I highly recommend stopping by a drugstore and picking up some vitamins to keep you in tip top physical and mental shape as summer draws to a close.

Virtual Visits

Sometimes, vitamins just don't cut it. I've always been very open about my mental health and I'm excited to share a total game changer for my mental health appointments: Virtual Visits. Virtual Visits lets you access a doctor quickly and in your own home, over your laptop or mobile device (think iPhone, Android, iPad, etc). You can use Virtual Visits for small health concerns, like colds and for me, sinus infections, or bigger things that don't necessarily require you to be in a doctor's physical presence; I use Virtual Visits to see a mental health care provider for my anxiety prescription. I meet with a doctor and about 40 minutes later I have a text from my pharmacy saying my prescription is ready. We're all busy, and Virtual Visits gets you in front of a medical professional quickly, on your own time, in your own home (or office...or gym...basically where ever you want).

Photo by Stephen Cheong-Leen.  Website here.

Photo by Stephen Cheong-Leen. Website here.

My Virtual Visits story started because I apparently can't properly operate my iCal. I entered the wrong time for my doctor's appointment, and I was running very low on my anti-anxiety medication. Naturally, missing my appointment and not being able to get in sent me into a spiral of anxiety and I quickly hopped on UnitedHealthcare's page looking for more providers to get me in ASAP. I came across Doctor on Demand and the Virtual Visits option and figured "why not?" I went ahead and signed up, hopped on the bus, and by the time I was back to my office I had an appointment set for my lunch hour. I popped into a conference room at my office to take the call through the app and my prescription was waiting for me at my usual drugstore for when I was walking home from work! That was in July, and I haven't looked back.

Photo by Stephen Cheong-Leen.  Website here.

Photo by Stephen Cheong-Leen. Website here.

Okay, okay, now for the important details: how to sign up! Signing up now doesn't mean you have to schedule a Virtual Visit right away. It's nice to have it downloaded and ready for when you need it!

  1. Download either the Dr. On Demand or Amwell mobile app
  2. Sign Up for a Virtual Visit for either app (it takes about 5 minutes or less)
  3. Register for an account (it's quick and easy and is similar to any other account you make for an email address, Apple ID, etc)
  4. Plug your insurance info in
  5. Then decide if you'd like to see a doctor immediately or at a future time
  6. Choose your doctor based on any number of criteria you choose, including gender (ladies, we all know that matters sometimes) and specialties.

Bam. That easy. I am very happy to partner with Mirum for this post, because Virtual Visits literally saved me from being an anxiety ridden mess on the floor of the reception area of my doctor's office. I can't recommend it enough for things like colds, sinus infections, and most importantly: mental health. Sign up today, and have it ready for next time you need an appointment!

What are your favorite self care rituals? How do you stay healthy, both physically and mentally, on a day to day basis? I'd love to hear it! Share your favorite rituals below!


Thank you again to Mirum for sponsoring this post and giving me the opportunity to cover something I'm passionate about!