As we are nearing the end of the year, I’ve been reflecting a lot on the changes I’ve made in my life. This year has been a pivotal time of soul-searching and learning who I am and who I want to be. While I understand that this may be ever-changing, I’m realizing that there are a few things that I’ve been forcing on myself that I really don’t want. In the past, I’ve either compelled myself to do these things when I didn’t enjoy it, or if I didn’t do them I was hard on myself about it. Maybe these will change in the future, but for now I’m finally being honest, and giving grace to myself as I make the decision to cut out things that no longer serve me.
I haven’t drank very much in the last several years anyway, so this was actually a pretty easy switch to make. But it has made the biggest difference in my mental health to just say out loud, “No thanks, I don’t drink.” I never knew until I started going to counseling regularly how much alcohol in general has affected my mental health. Several relationships in my life (romantic and otherwise) have been negatively affected by alcohol use. I have seen more times than I can count how much a person can change when they are drunk. It can be very scary, and after seeing it happen so many times, the “fun” part of alcohol use really loses its appeal. I’ve become very sensitive and anxious in situations involving heavy drinking.
The other main reason I stopped is that my body just doesn’t react well to it! The days of mild hangovers that can be cured with a greasy breakfast are long gone, and for the past several years if I have more than one drink in less than perfect circumstances (dehydrated, not enough food, etc.) then I spend the whole next day completely incapacitated. It’s simply not worth the havoc that it wreaks on my body when I really don’t enjoy the feeling anyway.
I’m definitely not a teetotaler, and I will still enjoy the occasional cocktail or beer when I feel like my mental and physical health won’t be negatively affected, but for the most part I try to keep myself out of situations where heavy drinking is present. For the longest time I would try to force myself to continue it, to go to parties or bars and be “fun” but now I’m finally settling into a routine where I’ve realized that it’s okay if I don’t like that anymore. I don’t have to have the same kinds of fun I had when I was 21 if I don’t actually enjoy it anymore. If fun now means curling up to watch The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel or going for a long walk to pick up trash in the park (yes, we actually did that last week for fun!), then that’s what I’m going to do.
*Side note: I was surprised to see that I’m not the only one feeling the need for this shift – I recently read this article on a concept called Sober Curious. It’s an interesting read and makes a lot of good points: “People are paying greater attention to their mental health and wellness, and many Americans are specifically looking to reduce their alcohol intake. People of all ages are drinking less beer, while millennials are drinking less overall.”
Going to the gym
I’m just going to be super candid here – I hate the gym. Loathe it. I have never ever enjoyed going to the gym and weight lifting. But our society tells us that we have to. Something that was once reserved for Olympic athletes only (thanks to the Minimalists podcast for pointing that out to me) is now considered common place for every single person – or else you’re lazy lazy lazy!
After listening to the podcast on minimalist fitness, I realized I’m not alone in not wanting to subscribe to the overwhelming gym culture. I don’t need to have a six pack, or increase my PRs, or count every single calorie and take a bunch of fancy supplements in order to be healthy. Instead, I choose to simply stay active. We walk the dogs morning and night, I’ve been doing yoga frequently at home, and with renovating a house (more on that in another post!) I’ve gotten more than my fair share of movement and exercise. Plus, once the weather drops back below the 100s I can add back in hiking, running at the park, and other various outdoor activities (until May, when it gets too hot again)!
It was so relieving to say goodbye to the pressure of going to the gym, and just be okay with being myself and doing what I enjoy (so long as it’s still keeping me active and healthy). Plus, it can save a lot of money – win win!
The “hair & makeup” routine
To be honest, this is something I never really had. Outside of high school or special events, I pretty much gave up on it. I’ve never been one of the girls who enjoys makeup and has fun doing it – I find it frustrating, and daunting, and it just never felt quite right on my face. I embraced my weird curly hair and just couldn’t see the point in spending an hour styling it every day when I could be asleep or doing yoga or spending time with Jacob and the dogs. Pretty much anything sounds like more fun to me than doing hair & makeup!
So, I finally decided that it was okay to not spend my time on that. Just because I’m almost 30 doesn’t mean I need to “grow up” and wear makeup if I don’t want to. I did however start adding a daily skin care routine, including moisturizer with sunscreen. I’ve never had a skin care routine, but I know that as I get older it’s going to be important to protect my skin from the sun to keep it looking better longer – and uh, not get skin cancer. That’s very important. So I added that and splurged on the good shampoo and conditioner to keep my hair healthy and looking good even if I don’t style it. I also stopped spending money on fancy dresses and heels that I’m never comfortable wearing. I’ll take jeans and t-shirts 99 days out of 100, please and thank you!
Plus, whenever I am feeling girly and want to dress up or do my hair & makeup, it makes it so much more fun and enjoyable! I have only a few dresses that I absolutely love and I save them for really special occasions so I don’t “wear them out” so to speak. It’s helped me with maintaining a more minimalist closet, as well as avoiding fast fashion and buying new clothes every season. I feel the best when I’m just…me. Not worried about how I look or what I’m wearing or what anyone thinks, and that’s the most comfortable skin to be in!