For the last two weeks, I did nothing on my blog. Part of me felt guilty, nagged by the responsibility that comes with running a full time blog. The other part of me urged me to forget about it. It’s not that I’ve given up on my blog. I decided that it was time for some much-needed self-care.
Full time job effect
When I used to have a regular job, I often took vacation. I was fortunate to have a generous vacation allowance that enabled me to take time off and recharge. It was an important part of my life and a much-needed one. There were times when I felt burnt out and unmotivated. Going on vacations meant stepping away from work and indulging in some self-care.
When I became a full time blogger, my focus was all on the blog. After all, it was now my full time gig. It became all about content, fixing broken links, editing images and all the other stuff that goes on behind the scenes. During that time, we have sold our house, moved and then left for Italy. When I wasn’t writing, I was packing, organizing things and dealing with everything else.
At the beginning of the year, I made a goal to write two blogs per week. Around May, closer to our move date, it became once a week. When we got to Italy, I realized I had no more blogs. I needed to write content and it just wasn’t happening. Panic set in and I failure started to creep its ugly head.
The need for self-care
Our first week in Italy was about finding fresh content. I got lots, but the blog wasn’t happening. Then we went to the beach. I packed up my laptop and notebook, fully intent on writing. I also brought a book that I started to read, but never finished. As I sat on the beach, staring at the people bobbing in the water and sun tanning, I realized something. I desperately needed a vacation.
You see, although blogging became a full time occupation, I forgot the most important part of having a full time gig. The necessary vacation. I became a full time blogger, without remembering all the necessities that come with it.
As I floated in the ocean, marvelling about the importance Italians place on beach time, I decided to join them. I made the decision to enjoy myself and put the blog aside. Self-care was more important now.
Why I needed self-care
While many people think blogging is the easiest thing in the world, the reality is quite different. It’s not about sitting on a beach with a fruity cocktail staring at the screen while the blog writes itself. You need to devote time and effort to gathering content and putting it together. Sometimes it’s not that easy.
For me, so many elements created stress. As I said, we sold our house. While we purged our belongings with a hard deadline on the horizon, it was challenging to write. I lost my desk and any other table surface. I wrote on my lap on the couch, trying to fend the dogs that were trying to sit on me. Different questions raced through my head, distracting me from writing. Are we going to be ready in time for the move? What needs to be packed, stored, donated, etc.?
The content well
The first six month of the year were great for finally writing down the things I didn’t get a chance to write about before. Working on the blog full time meant I now had time to devote to content. As time went by, however, I realized these ideas were drying out. After all, it’s hard to be a travel blogger and not travel. Unfortunately, due to all the factors going on I wasn’t able to go anywhere, hence, no new ideas. Two blogs a week meant that I did lot of writing. That also meant I was running out of content.
The dog situation
As we were getting ourselves organized, we needed to sort out how to bring our dogs to Italy with us. Let me tell you, there is a different set of worries that come along with pet travel. Between trying to find all the necessary information, book appointments with the vet, dealing with airlines and carriers, it was like a full time job.
Working for yourself is great as it allows you to create your own schedule. However, when you have clients, you need to deliver. In addition to blogging, I also do social media consulting. This meant that I had to ensure I delivered work as needed. While I can do work at 2 a.m., I still need to get it done. After all, slacking doesn’t look good for business and the bills have to be paid.
I’m very prone to sinus infections. They usually come at the most undesirable times. This time it was no different. During the move, flying dust and other crap fully infiltrated my nasal passages, irritating the crap out of them. The rental van with a dashboard covered in a layer of dust/shavings wasn’t much better. Unsurprisingly, I got a sinus infection and then came the dry, hacking cough. Despite self-medicating, I still can’t shake the cough.
What self-care thought me
I was in a bad shape upon our arrival in Italy. To make things worse, it was colder than normal for this time of the year and it seemed that thunderstorms were determined to make daily appearances. Not exactly a conducive environment for exploring.
Here is what I did instead to ensure I was taking care of myself first.
Every time we come to Italy, there is a beach stop. Be that a day or a week, we find a sandy shore and frolic in the ocean water. This time was no different. We packed up the dogs and headed two hours south to Palinuro. After all, nothing says a holiday like being on a beach. I really needed that. The sun, ocean and sun therapy was what the doctor ordered.
Read the book
I finally had time to read that book I brought with me. This time it was Steven Berry’s The King’s Deception. As an avid reader, I enjoy sitting down with a good book. Engaging story lines, plot twists and a blend of fiction with reality really gets my brain juices going. This one definitely had it all. Reading has always stimulated my brain and just enjoying the read was cathartic.
Enjoy the moment
I forgot how important it is to enjoy the moment. As a travel blogger, I focus more on writing about travel than actually enjoying myself. That’s definitely a mistake. When I write about places I visited before blogging, I remember how much I liked/disliked them and the actual experience. Funny how floating in the ocean can remind you of that.
Take a social break
While many people take a complete step back from social media to unwind, I took a different approach. As I love everything social, I kept up with Twitter and Instagram for the conversations. It was not about promoting my blog and it felt good. Normally, I like to read other blogs and comment on them. I think that’s an important and enriching part of being a blogger. During the last two weeks, I didn’t do that.
Relax and let things go
During our beach time, I didn’t care about my stats, pathetic as they are, and it felt good. I didn’t bother checking if anyone viewed my site or even liked it. While it felt neglectful at first, I overcame that. The blog wasn’t going to fall to pieces and I needed to put it aside. Just as I did with work when I worked full time. Interestingly enough, I started to get new ideas and the itch to write. I missed that feeling and I’m glad it came back.
Bringing it together
Let’s be honest. Blogging can be overwhelming and stressful just as much as any other job. I watched people burn out and give up many times. When we feel overwhelmed, it’s hard to enjoy things that make us feel that way.
It’s okay to take a break and recharge. Self-care is just important to bloggers as it is for anyone else. Blogging is a lot of work and so it getting the content. Travelling is great, but those who see your travels aren’t there for the plane/train/boat delays and cancellations. The exhaustion and the mishaps along the way take a toll.
I’m sure I was edging on a thin line of sanity. I took me a step back to refocus and recharge to realize that. I’m feeling a lot more inspired and a lot more creative now that we have come back from the beach. That’s probably a good thing.
Have you ever invested into self-care? Let me know what helps you to recharge.
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