I was planning not to write about stuff *waves vaguely.* But the truth is, I’m not quite sure how not to talk about the strange, homogenous mass of concertinaed time that has been the last year, where the days have been all but indistinguishable but at the same time go so fast. I wanted to do a blog post about something else *waves again, no longer sure what something else is*, but basically things have been lockdown-sourdough-run-new lockdown-run-more sourdough for so long that this is just life now.
And I don’t mean that it’s all been bad. Not at all. But it has been weird, and confusing, and just complicated. Which means I’ve talked plenty of times about how we need to be looking after ourselves, and each other, and extending love and care and gentleness to everyone we can, ourselves included. You know all this. I know this. And it’s all starting to feel a bit like hard work, right?
So this time I want to talk about small joys. About treating ourselves. About the selfish, just-for-us things that bring quiet doses of happiness. The treats. The ways we can look after ourselves that are beyond self-care – they’re self-indulgence.
Because, do you know what? We need that too. Absolutely we do. And now especially. Because right now the nights are long and the days are dark, it’s cold, the festive season is behind us, and it’s a long old haul to spring. And that’s even before we start talking about lockdowns and travel restrictions and waits for vaccines and just everything.
There is such a tendency in our culture to view even the most basic, most necessary self-care as being indulgent, as us spoiling ourselves rather than as the essential maintenance that it is. We push it down and further down our lists of priorities, as if keeping ourselves healthy is an afterthought. Because we don’t want to be selfish. And resisting that, remembering that we need to put ourselves first sometimes, just so we can keep going, can be just another battle among many. It’s exhausting, and it’s never-ending.
But self-indulgence? Ooh. Not sure. It feels a little … wicked. A little like sneaking the last bit of dessert from the fridge when no one’s looking, or going to a coffee shop alone and having a massive hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows and syrup, and not having to get anything for anyone else. It feels … fun.
And, right now, we could all do with a whole lot more fun. So it’s time for a little self-indulgence, lovely people. Arm yourselves with your favourite treats. Deep dive into it. Spoil yourselves.
And here are a few of mine to get you started.
5 Ideas for Treats:
Weekend breakfasts. Somehow, I have mostly kept track of when weekends are. Possibly because the SO and I have more video chat time on weekends than on other days, because nothing much else changes. The Little Furry Muse does not accept weekends as any sort of reasonable reason not to be fed at 6 a.m., so the lie-ins are pretty limited.
However. At least one weekend day, I have a weekend breakfast. I’m not a full-English-cooked-breakfast sort of person (even when I ate meat they were too overwhelming. So. Much. Food.), but I do love pancakes. Or cinnamon-raisin toast slathered in butter. Or crumpets. Or scones. Or just a nice fresh loaf of sourdough, straight out of the oven and hacked apart when it’s too warm to slice properly. Oh yes.
Pure, self-indulgent pleasure.
Taking time to cook. You may have gathered from this blog that I’m more baker than cook. I mean, I can cook, but when it’s just me it seems kind of pointless. I’ll usually live on salads with the occasional stir-fry thrown in for variety, and about once every few months or so I’ll cook a massive chilli that gets away on me and ends up making enough for about twelve very large, very hungry diners.
However, boredom eventually set in, and I started trying a few different things from Meera Sodha’s column in the Guardian. Next thing I knew, I’d bought both her vegetarian cookbooks, stuffed the fridge with new and interesting jars of fun ingredients, and currently can’t cook anything else until I eat at least some of what I’ve stashed in the freezer (turns out I’m not good at halving recipes). I’m also craving a trip to a decent specialty shop so I can stock up on noodles and galangal root and fresh fenugreek leaves (I have never had these and now so want to). Yes, I have to stop working a bit earlier, and actually think about what I need to buy in a week, but it’s been so worth it. Food’s interesting again, and that matters.
It’s not like we can go out to eat, so why not bring it in?
Self-care (kind of). I’m not much for face masks and pamper sessions. I have no patience. I like a bath now and then (when the boiler’s cooperating – like much of this house it’s a little old and temperamental. Also much like its occupants, now I think about it), but otherwise I tend to be a little utilitarian in my approach to other things.
However. I discovered half a bottle of blue hair dye in the back of the cupboard that must’ve come from France with us, and I hadn’t used it for a while then. So it was at least a couple of years old. Naturally, I immediately decided to use it, which, in retrospect, could’ve gone terribly wrong. Luckily none of my hair fell out, although it did go a rather interesting steel grey colour rather than bright blue.
But it was fun. So it’s now been topped up with purple, and I’m considering what other colours I could horrify the hairdresser with when I finally get back there.
I’ve also become bored of wearing my two pairs of yoga trousers over and over, and now wear whatever I feel like. This is sometimes quite presentable. More often it is not. But it is entirely enjoyable, and it does make things feel marginally less same-y. I call that a win.
Treats. Aaaaand we’re back to food, because, honestly, food is life. I could’ve made this whole list out of food.
Along with my more adventurous cooking, I’ve started buying things I wouldn’t normally buy. Interesting cordials (this does not always work out. Strawberry and lime, lovely. Berry and juniper? My eye’s still twitching). Fancy strong cheeses (Also dicey. Wensleydale Mince Pie cheese was a poor, poor choice). Umami paste (so good!). Mangoes. Pineapples (even if they do give me mouth ulcers. Sigh.). Just nice things.
Fairy lights. I actually think this is quite a common thing, this year if not always, but my fairy lights made it off the Christmas tree and onto the bookshelves, and there they have stayed. They go on when I get up in the morning, and, with the exception of the very occasional sunny day, they stay on until I go to bed. They’re pretty. They make me smile. These things matter.
Plus, the Little Furry Muse seems to enjoy trying to pull them down, so it’s a win for everyone, really.
There are quiet, small pleasures to be had everywhere, lovely people. And we need to grant them to ourselves where we can. Things will get better. Days will get warmer. Life will start to resemble something like that which we remember. One of these days we may even be able to go out and sit in a cafe somewhere with a friend and laugh about how we got through these strange times.
But until then, grant yourself the small things. Give yourself permission not just to get by, but to celebrate all the small and beautiful things that make you happy, be that painting your toenails or buying the posh ice cream instead of the own brand one, just this once. Not everything we do has to be productive. Not everything we do has to have meaning beyond the fact that it lifts our hearts.
Embrace a little indulgence, lovely people.
Now let me know below – what little indulgences have you allowed yourself? What might you allow yourself now, if you haven’t already? Share away below!