Every morning when I wake up, the first thing I do is to reach for my phone (Yes, I should take my own advice on that one…), and, once I’ve checked my email etc, I’ll spend a few minutes scrolling through my Bloglovin’ feed, before I start my day.
I like to do this every morning, not just to catch up with what my favourite bloggers are up to (you can follow me here, by the way), but because Bloglovin’ is just packed full of lifestyle advice these days, isn’t it? That’s not a complaint, by the way, and I’m not writing this post to criticise or complain about other bloggers, because the fact is, I LOVE the trend for advice posts. I write them myself. I know they’re not for everyone, but I like getting to read other people’s perspectives, and it’s often really helpful to find out how other people deal with life’s little curveballs.
Lately, though, I’ve been finding myself scrolling past most of the lifestyle advice I see on websites, and I never read those articles on the rare occasion I pick up a magazine containing them. Why? Because lately I’ve noticed that most lifestyle advice articles have one thing in common:
They all seem to be written by or aimed at people with unlimited amounts of time.
Think about it: when was the last time you read a piece of lifestyle advice that DIDN’T advise you to take a bubble bath? Or a long walk? Seriously, what’s the obsession with bubble baths? They seem to be seen as the cure for all ills, but I can’t be the only person in the world who doesn’t love them, surely? I mean, I like the IDEA of a bubble bath, sure – but the reality is normally water that’s always either too hot or too cold, and me wanting to fall asleep the second I get in there, and wishing I’d just gone to bed instead. Oh, and then realising that instead of just going to bed, I’m now going to have to clean the bath, and put away all of those scented candles I lit because the internet told me to.
Sorry, I got a bit carried away there. Where was I?
Oh yeah: the thing is, even if I DID love bubble baths, or long walks (Which, again, great if you have the perfect weather to go tramping over the countryside for hours – and somewhere pleasant to walk – but will actually just make me feel worst when I’m battling a gale-force wind, and feel like my face is going to freeze right off…), who has the time to do these things on the regular? I don’t. I guess I could be usual in that fact, but I don’t think I am, somehow, so when I read open another advice article and find myself thinking, “I wonder how long it’ll be before bubble baths are mentioned?” my next thought is normally, “Who ARE these people who have time to take long baths and equally long walks every day?”
I mean, it’s all very well to say that if you’re having a bad day, or are feeling really stressed, you should take a nap, or curl up with a good book, and those are pretty good ideas – in theory, at least. It’s always a good idea to look after yourself, after all, and if you DON’T, then you’ll just end up feeling even worse. What if you’re at work, though, and taking a nap is out of the question? What if you have young children, who aren’t about to let you sit down and read for hours, totally un-interrupted? What if you have deadlines and commitments which you can’t just drop in order to “look after yourself” by taking some time out? I think most of us are probably in that position. I work from home, so you’d think I’d have all the time in the world for these self-care tips that people are so fond of offering, but, like anyone else, I have things I HAVE to do every day. I don’t know about you, but I tend to feel most stressed when I have lots of things I have to take care of, and if I were to just drop everything and take a yoga class, I’d only end up feeling even MORE stressed than when I started, because while I was bust doing downward dog, or whatever, my mind just wouldn’t stop obsessing over all of the things that weren’t getting done. Trust me, I’ve been there in that yoga class, knowing I’d be going home to an even bigger mess than I’d left.
This is why most lifestyle advice just doesn’t work for me – and this is also where I add that all-important caveat that I’m talking from a purely personal perspective, here. I see the “bubble bath/ long walk / yoga” advice SO often that I have to assume it works for most people, so if you’re one of them, good for you. I’m not, though, so what I’d really love to see is some lifestyle advice for people who don’t have time to drop everything and curl up by their log fire with a book. And yes, I know the ideal solution here would be to write one myself, but, of course, if I knew how to avoid stress, or whatever, while STILL staying on top of everything, I’d be rich by now. Maybe that’s why the lifestyle advice you tend to see is so ubiquitous: it’s pretty hard to come up with alternative solutions, isn’t it? Things that you can do even when you don’t have tons of free time to devote to self-improvement/self-care. It’s a shame, because I suspect those tips would be the ones that were really worth reading: advice on how to reduce stress when you have a deadline to meet, or cheer yourself up when you’re going to be stuck in work all day, and your weekend is already booked solid with chores.
I don’t suppose anyone has any of THOSE to share?
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My advice is to make a list of everything you have to do – it only takes a few minutes, and I find that if I get down on paper exactly what I need to do, I feel less panicky about it, even if the list is a mile long!
I once read an interview with a man who lived to be over 100. He credited his lifetime philosophy as the secret to his longevity. His lifetime philosophy was ‘avoid working as much as possible and slack off at every opportunity’. Lifestyle articles always make me think of that guy. 🙂
Not that I’m saying lifestyle articles recommend slacking off! Not at all. Just realised how bad that sounds. I’m just so amused at how prescribed these things seem these days.