Simple Self-Care Ideas to Implement Today

It’s time to put yourself first. As a fellow creative (illustrator and professional landscape designer), I grew up with a lot of anxiety. I was also chasing dreams that were not my own and putting my needs last. I finally started confronting my mental health a few years ago and prioritized my time to do the real, deep work in finding myself again and practicing self-care. This has positively changed my life. I’m living so much more fully and happily. I still get anxious, but it’s not crippling anymore and the constant self-doubt and worry is not holding me back from doing things I wanted to do.

I started practicing self-care in baby steps. I needed to do more than just routinely using face masks and keep a good skin care regime – I needed to actually do the deep work. Below are the tiniest steps I took to make it to where I am today:

1.) Meditate for 3 minutes, at least 4 times a week.

I know how woo-woo it sounds and, as a skeptic myself, I didn’t believe sitting still would reap any benefits. But after listening to Tim Ferris saying that at least 80% of successful people meditate over and over again in his podcast, I was convinced to try meditation myself.

I simply started meditating 3 minutes in the morning whenever I can. Then I made a space and time to do it during the work week, which involves sitting in my car and meditating right before I head to the office (if I am not running late). On the weekends, I do it right after I make my bed. I use the Calm app (not sponsored) for it’s simple mobile interface and I also enjoy the positive quote after every meditation session.

From the outside, it looks like meditation does nothing and the person appears to be sleeping. In reality, when you’re the one practicing meditation, you are actually centering yourself, calming your chaotic thoughts, and clearing your mind by taking deep breaths. It can do so much in so little, and it is by far the easiest way to feel more present and at peace with yourself. You will feel more focused and productive after.

Now, the caveat is that meditation only works if you do it consistently and over a sufficient period of time. Everyone has different results, and it took about 8 months for me to finally be able to see and feel the effects of meditation. I still have hard days and go through emotions like a normal human being, but the difference is that I don’t get too overwhelmed or overthink over a prolonged period of time and I am at a healthier state of mind much longer than before. The benefits of meditation has been a game-changer for my life and I believe it can transform your life too.

2.) Take 15 seconds to be brave everyday.

I don’t mean jumping off of a cliff, but scaling it down to something super simple and easy. It can be asking another question besides the typical “How are you?” question whenever you greet someone or have a different response than the normal, “I’m doing well.” Or try having a conversation with a stranger or actually make eye contact with someone when you are talking.

These small moments of bravery can lead to big results. Once you get into the habit of doing things that are uncomfortable and scary, you will do them a lot more. Even if you are afraid of doing it, you will start to gain confidence as you take the initiative to be brave. Part of being brave doesn’t mean you won’t have fear, but you will do it anyway with the fear inside. When you start to do brave things, you will start to do brave things for yourself, such as actually do things you love, learn to say no, and accept the rejection and challenges. You will be brave enough to get back up even when the odds are against you and have the brave mindset to keep moving forward.

3.) The 5 Second Rule

I recently learned about this from another podcast I was listening to. It was created by Mel Robbins, a now successful author and motivational speaker, during a time when she was at her worst, bottom moment of her life – a marriage on the the brink of divorce, a lost job, in debt, and becoming alcoholic. One day, she watched a rocket launch that counted 5-4-3-2-1 and launched live on television. She for some reason decided to apply this one day to help her get out of bed and it worked. So she did this in secret for several years before telling anyone about it. This 5 second rule extended to other moments of her life too.

I’m always interested in learning about simple ideas to practice self-care and time will tell if this 5 second rule will work for me. Still, I wanted to include this idea because it may help you with your own struggles and be something you can apply today or now even. I have heard stories from Mel Robbins about how this 5 second rule prevented someone from committing suicide or helped someone out of life’s most toughest moments. If this is something that can make a difference in someone’s life, then yes I’ll put it here so you know about it too.

These ideas show that self-care doesn’t strictly have to be so serious or hard to implement. It also doesn’t have to be lonely either. Sometimes, it’s even better to do a fun and festive self-care activity in a collaborative environment so it can help spark joy and ideas. A group setting can also help provide clarity in your next steps with many more minds to help you figure out your next thing.

I would like to invite you to a free virtual event that will take place on Sunday December 12th from 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM (US Pacific Time, GMT-7). It’s my new Sparking Joy in Self-Care Virtual Event Series and December month is Cocoa and Coloring! Every event will be themed, feature a Creative, have a self-care activity, and an easy homemade recipe. A creative will be featured in the monthly event, which helps support small business owners and creatives out there. Sign up here if you’re interested in attending!

Sparking Joy in Self-Care Virtual Event Series

The event is featuring a self-care calligraphy artist based in Singapore and we will be using her self-care coloring sheet she made exclusively for this event. You can learn more about her here. See you then and have a jolly day!

Don’t Sugarcoat It

At some point in our lives, we had to respond to somebody asking “Why?”, which is really implying “why are you doing this?”

Why would you quit a good paying job? Why would you go to a second rate college? Why would you move across the country? While these questions show that the person asking may truly care and want the best for you, they don’t actually know what is really best for you. They know that the status quo of life can lead you to success – but is this your path to success?

For a long time, I did everything that was socially perceived as right: I got good grades, I went to a good college, and I even had a good paying job. But I didn’t feel successful or even fulfilled. In fact, I was incredibly anxious and deeply unsatisfied pretty much all the time. A few years ago, I had a breakthrough that led me to stop doing what others expected me to do and it was then I decided to do things for myself.

Part of my personality is to do things spontaneously, so I started to back in 2019. I spontaneously went to Korea a month before my wedding. I left a job for another company to work on projects I had minimal experience in. I started making cute wellness art on a digital platform that I’ve never used before and sharing it on social media. I did everything I was taught not to – and this newfound energy felt exhilarating. And, moreover, it was incredibly freeing.

Of course, people were curious and asked me why I did all these things. I gave somewhat mediocre answers at the time, because I really wasn’t confident in what I was doing either. I just knew deep inside my intuition said I should. Looking back, if I had the confidence, I would have gently asked, “Why not?” and actually be honest about why I was doing all this. It wasn’t for money or for my career, it was for me and my sanity. 

In my mental wellness journey, I’ve learned to not sugarcoat things anymore. I know us women in particular make up stories or excuses to not hurt or make the other person feel bad, as a way to protect them. We tend to fall in this endless sugarcoating cycle and not really admit why we are or are not doing something. Sometimes, we can’t go to an event because we are actually really tired and need a mental break from work and people for a moment. 

So, I’ve been trying lately to be more upfront about my feelings and being more confident speaking about why I do or don’t do things. It is hard to tell people my real reasoning since I’ve been suppressing this from others and sugarcoating it for so long, but I take baby steps when I can. With mental health slowly being more socially accepted, I don’t fear the backlash as much as I did before. In fact, people are willing to share their own struggles if you are honest with them about yours in the first place.

I hope the conversations about mental health become more normalized and we don’t have to hide and suppress our mental struggles from others anymore. Don’t sugarcoat it. In fact, coat it with everything you have. 

Good luck!

Me & My Wellness Journey…So Far

I may look put together in the photo, but in the 24 hours before this was taken, I was in a completely chaotic state.

I had to prepare and co-host a public community meeting the evening before and for the most part it went okay with a few of my mistakes. I was also in a rush to finish packing for a family trip to go on the next morning. I am the type to start packing early, but I still tend to pack extra clothes and essentials at the very last minute.

I try to be as prepared as I can, but I do have moments where things go wrong, which is part of life – nobody is immune to this. The good news is that after being in a state of panic, I have learned to not overthink too much and calm myself down during stressful situations. It’s been a life-changing journey to acknowledge and deal with my crippling anxiety and I am still learning and building better habits every day.

To commemorate my one year into my wellness journey, I wanted to share this is who I am and that I am an actual human being behind this blog. I still struggle too and, while I am not always smiling like this, I’ve never felt better and more alive. Feeling free of my mind has allowed me to be more myself. I don’t worry as much about whether I said the wrong thing, or if I’m too this or that, or if my work isn’t enough. I simply focus on doing the thing and improve from there. This has also really helped build my courage and confidence, which are great perks for an introverted, shy person like me.

I actually really dislike showing my bare arms to the world – it’s the body part I am most self-conscious about and I would most likely be reeling about it after I post this. But I want to let go of this fear and for others to have courage to do the same. By this I mean slowly starting to take risks and building the confidence to be more comfortable with and about yourself. You are an amazing person, but maybe you don’t know it yet.

A good tool is to actively ask yourself, are you revealing or concealing yourself? It’s okay to be a lurker (I very much am on Reddit), but it’s also okay to step out and show yourself too. The more you do it, the more others will too.
Also, just because you take a lazy day, it doesn’t mean you are lazy. It just means you are human and need to take a break too. It took me some time to figure this out, and I hope this helps you too.

This post is more of an introduction of the blogger behind the blog. I will be sharing more upcoming topics soon. Have a wonderful Wednesday and good luck!

Happy Ending: Finding Yourself and Crafting Your Dream Life

From the outside, it seemed like I was living the dream life. I got a graduate degree, I had a decent paying job, and I was part of many social circles. Based on society’s and my Asian parents’ standards, I did everything right by achieving academic, professional, and personal success throughout my 20s. I followed a path like many others had done before me and I thought this was the ideal life I was meant to be living. At the time, I assumed my personal well-being didn’t matter, even as my anxiety levels and my mental state were getting progressively worse, since in the external world, everything else was going fine.   

As I was achieving success, I was going so fast and nowhere at the same time. I felt empty, unhappy, and unfulfilled. The two years of graduate school in another state put a strain on my long-term relationship. I loathed the job I was in after graduate school and I became incredibly anxious and depressed working with a toxic manager. I went to every social gathering to show my support to my loved ones and friends, but I wasn’t really present when I was physically there.

For so long I assumed my happiness would positively correlate with all the things I have done right in life by being a good daughter, a good student, a good employee, and a good partner. I just accepted things as it came to me and obediently stuck to my lane. I never did anything to step on anyone’s toes or out of my comfort zone. But I was nowhere near happiness and I was getting further away from being my authentic self. I was slowly disappearing and I couldn’t admit this to myself because I was too scared to face my own troubled mental state. I used other things like work, social gatherings, and other “busy” distractions to keep me from ever confronting my mental health. I thought my worries, anxieties, and fears would just eventually go away if I kept going with the flow of life. This was the ideal life anyway, so this would work itself out right? 

It didn’t. The cracks of this seemingly ideal life started to crumble into noticeable pieces. I was in a terrible mood a lot of the time, I was in a constant state of worry, and I was exhausted from meeting everyone’s expectations. My relationships soured, my work suffered, and my mental health declined. I was losing myself and I didn’t know what to do. 

In 2019, I didn’t have a breakdown, but I had a breakthrough. For the first time in my life, I made the decision to start doing things for myself, not just to please my parents or to impress an employer. I started to work on projects I liked and enjoyed. I went on trips for myself, not for social obligations. I was rediscovering who I was and finding out who I really wanted to be. For once in my life, I was finally taking ownership of my life. I left the toxic workplace for a new one with a position I wanted and a salary I negotiated for. I improved my communication skills with my partner and fostered stronger relationships with friends. I even started a side business of designing and selling cute greeting cards. I was making things happen my way and was finally becoming myself again.

As I gained confidence to do the things I loved, I gained the courage to confront my mental health and took action to do something about it. I started meditating, slowing down, stretching, and experimenting with all sorts of mindfulness activities. I read books and listened to many hours of podcasts related to self-help topics. After putting in “self-work” consistently, the results were magical. The newfound clarity and sense of calmness was incredibly freeing. For a person who had experienced a lifelong crippling anxiety, this felt like a dream. And this new dream became my new reality. 

I am starting to live my dream life now. I am learning to be my authentic self and I am so much happier than ever before. I live fully with less anxiety and do things I love without anyone else’s permission. As I gain more courage, I am able to take risks and try new things, like taking a real hard look at my finances and my unhealthy lifestyle, and making changes that I have avoided for so long. Interestingly, the more I give back to myself, the more I am able to give back to the world at a much greater capacity than ever before. I am continuously using my creativity and art to help others heal and began their journey of self-discovery, while staying true to myself and my values.  

I am sharing my story so one day you can find yourself and live your dream life too. You have the right to live happily and make your dreams happen, no matter what age you are. Be willing to let go, take up space, and live authentically. It does take real work, time, and consistency, but I guarantee that it is incredibly rewarding, feeling this other way. This may make other people uncomfortable at first, but realize you need to put your own life above others’ expectations. By the end of it all, you have lived your life, not someone else.  

A happy mind is a happy life. You deserve to be happy and live your dream life, so go make it a happy ending.

(And here’s a free mood tracker I made to start. Good luck!)