A self-care plan for my career break

As someone who has decided to take a career break for the last couple of months, self-care is something that has been on my mind. Having been in touch with different people who are also on their own breaks, I’ve realised this time can be both exhilarating, exciting, but also just plain scary. For me, it has also felt super doubtful, and very uncertain.

The truth is, adjusting to life outside the workforce can be a stressful experience. While my 9-5 has changed and I’m not filling up my days with spreadsheets, meetings, and tea breaks (ok, I still take just as many tea breaks ), I’ve really begun thinking about my self-care, and what I can do to make sure I am looking after myself while I work out where to next.

So in my own way I’ve put together a small plan for my own self-care while I go through this time, to keep me sane and get me to the other side the job search.

Put my shoes on and get outside

This one has been my saving grace, though at the moment I am healing from a broken toe and haven’t been as active as I would like. But I still put on my walking shoes and try and get outside as much as I can get some air and walk those legs. It’s been a little painful as my poor little toe gets used to pounding the pavement again, albeit slowly (no running, though I can still run for the bus!), but I’m hoping by just getting some movement will remind my body that Krav training is not so far off. I’m relishing the time I do get out in the sun everyday and head to the park; it feels like the biggest bonus to have some time to contemplate, and pet all the dogs that wander over to say Hi.

Enjoy my sleep time

Some might argue this one is self-indulgent and killing my productivity, but instead I’ve chosen to focus on getting a lot of sleep as an opportunity to reset my body clock and just rest. Self -care demands good sleep, If you sleep well, you feel well and I feel it feeds my energy during the day to have laser-focus on the things I’m working on throughout the day.

Good food is my friend

This is the super fun one that I have taken joy in so much. Now I actually have time to cook proper, nutritious lunches for myself and its made a world of difference! When else am I going to have so much time to spend in the kitchen? Reacquainting myself with all these wonderful pieces of shiny metal on my bench tops that I don’t get to use very often has been revelatory ( hello there, juicer), and have allowed me to whip up some delicious meals and juices.

Like sleep, this comes down to one of those habits my body will thank me for, especially in helping cope better with stress levels. Drink more water. Herbal tea works wonders too, including the gut-friendly chamomile and antioxdant-rich Rooibos, and wean yourself off the copious amounts of caffeine. I don’t drink caffeine but others have told me giving it up has worked wonders.

Self Care Career Break

This is an opportunity to grow

Seeing your current circumstances as an opportunity to grow can be challenging— particularly if the situation wasn’t your choice. Even the most positive people have their moments of self-doubt and frustration. This is also when the dreaded question of ‘What if I never find a job again?’ can rear it’s ugly head to the surface. When it gets difficult for me to not be over-run by doubt and self-pity, I make list of all the reasons why I’m awesome, and look at it often. It may feel a little stupid to tell myself that I’ve got great creative skills, and look amazing in baby pink; however, I figure we all have things we’re good at. Neuroscience suggests we’re a product of our own thoughts, and having negative thoughts inhibits our ability to see an opportunity to better ourselves. It’s a perfect time to reflect and think, ‘what do I really want?’.

While  little stressful, this time has been great for taking a step back and figuring out what it is that I really want to dedicate my precious time to.  To help me along, I found: Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans.

Get Readin’

I read books. A lot of books. I would walk, work, and sleep with a book in my hands if I could. Now is the perfect time to pull out those tomes ( or fire up the kindle) that you’ve been putting off forever because of lack of time, and get reading. You can read after breakfast, in between job applications, or just because you need a break curled up on the couch. The only caveat with this one is to keep your bank-balance in check and not buy so many books. Either discover the library, or if you just can’t help yourself, do like me and find yourself the best used-book stores in town instead. That way you can visit on the reg (almost!) guilt-free.

It doesn’t even matter what you read — fiction or non-fiction; just by picking something your brain will kick into gear and thank you for keeping it active

Self Care Career Break

Play tourist in town

Never had a chance to play tourist in your home town? I admit I haven’t much. Since now, I’ve realised art galleries, museums, cafes, botanic gardens, or even a simple walk around town are interesting  ( and free!) ways to keep the inspiration flowing and provide a little entertainment. Career-breaking can feel a little isolating, so what better way to surround myself with people than by doing a little touristing. I get to see different people ( not the regular weekend crowds), and enjoy quieter time (avoiding those regular weekend crowds). Taking along a camera, notebook, and my latest read, and I’ve got myself some quality ‘me time’.

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Playing tourist at my local flower market

A healthy mind = a healthy me

Learning is my absolute fave thing to do. As an adult ed. student for 4 years, and having worked for an online learning company for another 4, learning something new is a no-brainer. There are lots of free resources online to help keep your mind active. I love Open Culture, and TED Talks as brilliant places to start. When I get online to these sites, it’s almost like going down a rabbit-hole; for an information hoarder like me I find myself in an Aladdin’s cave. I found this playlist recently on TED called Talks for Procrastinators. If you love procrastinating and find yourself having a sudden urge to find out where camels come from (there is a talk!), this is the playlist for you.

Ditto for podcasts on Spotify; and SkillShare; while there is a small price to pay for their  library, there are so many courses on painting, writing, social media, and tech. I’ve become a huge fan of their watercolour projects, and totally nerd out on these some nights instead of Netflix.

Part of having a healthy mind has also been learning to deal with the creeping little voices on my head that come in the middle of the night with persistent negative thoughts. It’s these thoughts that above all else I need to find a way around. Meditation helps, and is something I’ve begun to do on the reg as a way of entering and calming down. While this career break has been entirely my choice, I’m the first one to admit that the path I’ve chosen hasn’t been the easiest, but I know with super strong surety that it will be worth it.

Happy career-break!

K xxx

*I originally posted a version of this post on my LinkedIn profile.

 

 

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Summer season: Enter the Buddha bowl!

Now that we’re well and truly in the middle of a crazy Aussie summer heat wave, I’ve been craving hot meals less and less. The thought of spending time in front of the cooker whipping something up has made me want to run and permanently camp out in front of my fan.

So for lunch today I decided to make this buddha bowl instead. Having been a vegetarian / vegan for many years, I have been making these for a long time – I started making them as a way to eat simple food in as close to its natural state as possible. I’m super happy to see them all over the internet as they gain popularity, it just makes perfect sense to return to eating in a way that is healthy, simple, natural, and looks so beautiful.

 

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The stand-out ingredients in this bowl for me are the rice, and the buffalo heart tomato. The rice has come directly from farmers who travel to Sydney and sell their produce range at a local farmers market. As they often have produce left over they cannot sell, to avoid it going to waste one of the farmers has given some friends and I a bag of uncooked, milled, short-grain, semi-brown rice to try. I admit at this point I did need to turn the stove on  and cook it for 20 minutes, however after adding in quinoa, and chia seeds, I left it to simmer away while I retreated to the safety of the living room to my fan and iced water.

The end result of cooking the rice was pure deliciousness. Nutty, sticky, but with a subtle flavour, both texture and taste were perfect. The farmer had told us that the reason this type of rice was often unwanted and wasted was that the semi-browness of the rice confused consumers, but after one bite of this rice, I was the one confused. It took no longer to cook half a cup of rice than with store-bought rice, and it looks no different on the plate either. I have a bag of it in the fridge ( the rice is also pesticide- free so needs to be kept cold) so I cannot wait to see what else I can make with it – I am thinking coconut milk and chia seed rice puddings, and rosemary and thyme rice balls. Watch this space!

The buffalo heart tomato was an interesting find I picked up at my local fruit and vegetable market. While I love all kinds of tomatoes, summer calls for something a little more exotic, and the buffalo heart does not disappoint. Its unusual, striking heart shape is lovely, its skin smooth and light summery red. And it smells like a freshly-dug tomato – subtly earthy and sweet. I can see myself eating these like apples, as they don’t contain many seeds –  there is no tomato mess!

 

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If you’d like to make your own bowl, here is the list of ingredients I have used. While I call this my 10-ingredient bowl, you can use as many or as little ingredients as you like. I use as many as I can in mine simply because as a single person living on my own, I tend to have to buy more food than I can eat – I often need to get creative in the kitchen to use as much of it up as I can!

  • Romaine lettuce – both the green, and red variety
  • Lightly sautéed baby spinach
  • Lightly sautéed baby bok choy
  • Broccolini
  • Tofu in Chinese Honey flavour
  • Rice with quinoa and chia seeds mixed through
  • Chickpeas
  • Red cabbage
  • Buffalo heart tomato
  • Cucumber
  • Hummous with nuts and seeds sprinkled on top
  • Lemon and sea salt sprinkled liberally over all ingredients once on the plate

The beauty of these bowls for me is the combination of both lightly cooked and raw food. I can have these side by side, their respective flavours complimenting each other perfectly. To keep the bowl in balance, I always make sure to mix veggies, one source of grains, one source of protein, and one source of healthy fats. I’m a minimal dressing kind of girl, so opt in for lemon and salt most of the time, generously sprinkled over the bowl. And as for the colours, they look beautiful on a pristine white plate. I love the different shades of green, browns, and the sharp splashes of red and purple in this bowl. Seeing what my food looks like before I eat it is a big motivation to eating healthily, looking after my body, and making me appreciate where my food comes from. The earth has an amazing capacity to provide us with everything we need.

 

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If you’d like more inspiration on Buddha Bowls, I love lifestyle and interiors blogger Moon to Moon’s post on suggested bowls to make – even though this article is a little older, I love to come back to it from time to time for inspiration.

If you have any favourite buddha bowl recipes you’d like to share I’d love to hear from you.

Enjoy!!

Anti-Oxidant Beauty Porridge

I love to start the day right with a powerhouse-of-goodness breakfast. A healthy nutritious combination of carbs, healthy fats, and protein to help me get through whatever the day might throw, and provide me energy to complete my various projects. The breakfast below is what I eat each and every day, using dairy-free, gluten-free ( as much as possible in this recipe), and organic fresh produce. There is a plethora of anti-oxidant goodness in each ingredient, which work hard to repair, and plump up skin cells to keep you beautiful, boost immunity, and help your metabolism to work efficiently. The coconut oil deserves a special mention, as this is amazing for soothing and nourishing skin, and I have noticed a huge difference since eating this every day.

So get your glow on each morning, and indulge in deliciousness!

To make: 

1/2 Cup Oats ( I use Freedom Foods Free Oats which, while not entirely gluten-free, are free from other gluten-producing ingredients such as wheat, rye, and barley. You may be able to find a similar product if you are gluten-intolerant and can handle a small amount of gluten like me)

I cup almond milk ( or other dairy-free milk of your choice)

2 Strawberries

Blueberries, Raspberries, blackberries of your choice in whichever amount you wish

1 small nectarine or peach

1 Tablespoon organic virgin coconut oil

A few walnuts or other nuts, a couple of brazil nuts is my fave, chopped

Chia seeds, up to a tablespoon

A mix of Cinnamon, and All-Spice to sprinkle over

Combine oats and almond milk, and cook according to packet instructions. Mix in the coconut oil, top with chopped fruit and nuts, and sprinkle with both chia and combination spices.

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It’s Easy Being Green

I have been having a break in the last few weeks, taking the time to reassess life, and decide which direction life will take this year. Being unemployed is still a constant source of frustration, but I am keeping a positive outlook, counting the blessings, and taking the time to do all the things I love through this transition period. I have been accepted into graphic design college where I will be able to indulge my creative passions, which I am hugely excited about.

One of the things I have had a lot of time to think about is health, and the importance of having good nutritious food to help support my body and keep me as stress-free and positive as possible. I’ve always loved playing around with different recipes, and have recently begun to experiment with green smoothies.

After drinking one of these, I feel happy. And energised. And centred. They pull me back to earth, filling me up with vitality and goodness. This smoothie may not change the world, but it makes a difference to my world, and that’s good enough for me.

Ingredients:

250ml Almond Milk

1 Cup Kale, or Spinach, or Romaine Lettuce. Or a mixture of all three!

1 Banana, chopped

Small handful walnuts

2-3 large strawberries, chopped

1 tablespoon organic coconut oil

1 tablespoon wheat germ

2 heaped teaspoons of powdered wheat grass. You can also use chlorella, or spirulina.

Optional: You can also add chia seeds, chopped green apple, green pear, chopped cucumber, protein powder, almonds, coconut water or milk…get creative and add your own fave ingredients.

Place all your ingredients into your blender, and blend until smooth.

Enjoy!

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