This week I decided to keep things light and write another lifestyle post. Since I think emotional health is just as important as physical health, I wanted to share the things I've learned from my younger self and taken with me into my 30s.
I won't lie, my 20s were fun and a blur and looking back, I'm just happy I made it through. The changes I experienced in a single decade were profound as it started with college and ended in marriage. Between those two points a lot of crazy stuff happened.
But as I'm now in my mid 30s, I've been reflecting back on the changes experienced over the years and what I've come to regard as important. The great thing about getting older is caring less about things I once deemed as crucial.
Among the zillion others, I've decided to settle on 11 things I've learned in my 30s.
1. Cooking more leads to better health
You're probably not surprised to see this one. When I lived in New York, my oven may as well have been used as storage as it was barely touched. I relied on restaurants and takeout for my food and I hardly cared about spending time in the kitchen. I had gotten away from how I was raised and it had significant impact on my overall health.
But once I entered my 30s, cooking from scratch, sourcing only the best food and paying attention to what I put in my body became critical to me and it's had a ripple effect.
I'm not advocating that everyone drop gluten and dairy entirely but I am advocating a return to slow cooking, paying attention to what and how we eat. All health starts in our gut and feeding our body the right kind of food can significantly impact every system in our body and improve health.
2. Wear perfume just because
I was brought into the world by c-section and instead of getting swabbed with some vital bacteria, my mom sprayed perfume on me. Kidding. But in all seriousness, my mom has worn perfume as long as I can remember and she passed that love on to me. Since I was a teen, I've gone through many perfumes in search of the one. And in recent years I was able to find it.
Most women don't enjoy sharing their special scent but I have no problem doing so. The great thing about the human body is that no perfume will smell the same on two people so it's not a competition and that's the beauty of it. This particular perfume, which is technically not a perfume, works with your individual scent and that's what I love about it. It blends with you. If you're interested you can find it here.
I like wearing it every day, whether I'm going on a milk run to the farm with my kids, or working from home. It just makes me feel good. I don't need to go somewhere special to wear it.
3. Simplify your wardrobe
When I was in my 20s, I felt I had to follow trends and friends. When I lived in New York my wardrobe was a little mismatched and fun - it suited me and that particular time in my life. But it was also complicated and required much too much planing.
These days I keep things very simple and truth be told, I don't particularly enjoy shopping. Actually, I find it exhausting. So I stick to basic pieces I can mix and match and have had the same general style for years. I recommend finding clothes that suit your personality and express who you are.
And don't forget about what goes under your clothes. Wear undergarments that make you feel good. Of course we all have those crazy ones for those very special times of the month but in general paying attention to how you feel in your clothes is just as important as how you look.
4. Know who your friends are
I've had the same small group of friends for a very, very long time. They are the kind of people who are there for through the good and the bad times. The kind of people I can rely on and trust with my life.
Surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you and make you feel like a better person when you're around them. If you have people in your life who bring you down consistently, question your motives for staying friends. Life is too short to burden ourselves with the wrong people, even if we've known them for a long time.
5. Take care of your skin
It look years for me to finally heed my mother's advice. She's always said: "take care of your skin". In my 20s, sleeping with makeup on was something I did without regard. I simply didn't care.
But once I entered my 30s I realized that I better start paying attention to the largest organ. Blemishes and pimples are inevitable but a regular skin care routine goes a long way. Now I believe what we put into our bodies is just as important as what we put on our bodies, if not more so, and suggest starting with that. If you want some ideas on what to eat for skin health, check out this post.
But if you want to know what I do for my nightly routine here are some simple steps:
- Whether I wear makeup or not, I use Micellar water instead of regular water to clean my face. It's gentler and seems to be working for me.
- I was never a serum person until my skin started acting crazy in cold weather so I needed a little extra help. During cold months, I will often add this at night before I add moisturizer.
- I follow with my absolute favorite skin care product of all time. It's actually an eye cream but it's all natural and a lot thinner than eye cream so I use it as an all over moisturizer and love it. You can find it here.
6. Read as much as you can
What generally happens when I read a book I really like is I immediately have to have 3-5 books by the same author. I've done this since I can remember and I'm not ashamed to admit it. Reading has been a big part of my life.
While finding time to read these days can be challenging, I make it a point to read whatever I can get my hands on. You never know what inspiration lies in the very thing you're about to read. Whether it's online articles, a daily newspaper or just simply picking up a book, there's nothing like getting lost in someone's writing.
7. Get enough sleep
I wish I could practice what I preach but it's challenging to with 2 small children. This is exactly what opened my eyes to the importance of sleep.
I've written an extensive post on the importance of sleep and I truly feel that sleep should be a priority for all of us. Though easier said than done in today's "on 24 hour a day, technology obsessed" world. You can check out my tips for getting better sleep here.
8. Do something you love
I cannot stress this enough. Whether it's your actual job or something you do on the side, find one thing that speaks to you and get lost in it. Whether it's art, blogging, volunteering, cooking, taking classes, etc - doing something you love is good for emotional health.
For me, it's this blog. It never feels like work when I'm cooking, writing or taking photos. It has its challenges, don't get me wrong, but getting lost in the process makes me feel alive. And it's never too late to start something you've always wanted to do.
9 . Spend time in nature
While I spent most of my childhood outside, playing, I didn't start seeing the connection between nature and emotional health until my 30s when I found that I spent more time indoors and less time being connected to nature.
I used to roll my eyes at the advice of getting outside in nature for an emotional reset but whether you take a solo trip to the beach or go for a walk in the park, being in nature has remarkable health benefits.
10. Use social media wisely
In my 20s, I distinctly recall my best friend telling me I had to get with the times and start texting. I've come a long way from that point connected to more social media accounts than I care to admit. (Oh wait, you can find them at the top of this blog). Everyone I know, now has some form of social media they use for either staying in touch, work or news and most of us spend a good chunk of our day connected.
While it can be beneficial and helpful in some ways, it can also be downright dangerous when misused. Numerous studies have confirmed that social media can negatively impact mental health.
The advice that I try to follow is to use it wisely, to appreciate it for what it is but not confuse it with real life. It's easy to fall in the comparison trap but remember, your journey is yours and you have no idea what anyone else's life truly looks like on the inside.
11. Don't forget about simple pleasures
I'm a mom, my days are full. I don't have the same time I used to in my 20s so I take full advantage of the little pleasures in life. They make every day a little special.
Here are some simple things I do on most days.
- Drinking a glass of wine daily.
- On clear days, letting the sun beat on my skin for even just a few minutes.
- Surrounding myself with plants. I'm not the greatest at watering them but I like them and a little green inside is good for the soul.
- Drinking a bottle of kombucha while grocery shopping. Don't worry - I pay for the empty bottle.
- Daily meditation - even for just a few minutes. I use this app.
- Listening to music as much as possible. It can change your outlook.
- Writing thoughts in a journal goes a long way.
- Going for walks. Even at work, I like taking a stroll in the afternoon for a change of pace.