Alexis Wood is the Global Manager, Culture, Engagement & Communications at Koala, a company whose mission is ‘Better furniture experiences, designed with the World in mind.’
What does self-care mean to you?
The definition of “self care” is for each individual to interpret. For me, self care is connecting back to what lights me up. It’s waking up each day and checking in, assessing my stress levels and the work ahead, and making a commitment to ‘get my life.’
Self-care is constantly evolving. It’s so much more than downward dog and green smoothies. We are constantly adapting to the world around us, which means we must continuously learn to care for ourselves in new and different ways. 2020, for example, forced us to hunker down (literally), and put mental health front of mind (pun intended).
Now, what was once considered a nice-to-have has become the norm. This is evident in the way organisations are embracing progressive people practices, meeting their people where they’re at and empowering them to take care of themselves in different ways. This is now the standard; and good for us for making it that way.
The self-care umbrella is a big and beautiful one. What works for you may not work for your partner or a colleague; what worked for you last week may not even work for you today. When this happens, take a breath, acknowledge the change, and adjust to finding what suits you best. It’s also OK to not know, as long as you are committed to the journey.
How do you know when you’re feeling stressed or burnt out?
Typically one, or more, areas of my life are out of alignment. Maybe I’ve gone a little too hard on the family size bag of salt and vinegar crisps, or decided to flake on the spin class. A self checklist is an annoying but handy tool: Have I left the house today (this week)? And have I spent an embarrassing amount of time doom-scrolling?
If the answer is yes to any, or all of these, firstly, it’s OK. Yes. I said it. Self care also means not beating yourself up when you need a little extra lovin.’ But it’s also knowing when a reset is needed and understanding how best to do that for yourself.
Do you have a regular self-care routine? If so, what does it look like?
Self-care is always a work in progress and finding ways to thread it through your days, weeks, and life is an ongoing commitment.
My self-care ad hoc, sporadic but ongoing routine is a two-parter. The first is less tangible, geared towards recognising burnout and the environments which contribute to it. It’s a way of challenging myself to do and be better in my daily life.
If I stare at screens too long, I’ll trade them for a book; crisps for popcorn; the sofa for a cafe on the corner, or wine for…well, more wine (not a good example). But making smaller decisions to do better and recognise habits before they turn ugly is easy, and a great practice to have.
The second part of my self-care routine is more Big Picture. I know I feel best when I am out in the world experiencing things and connecting with people, so I plan my life path accordingly and try to stay in lane.
I am grateful that I am able to work remotely and therefore, have an incredible opportunity for work / life blend. Urban exploration in the morning and a team All Hands in the afternoon; museum in Mexico City for lunch and a strategy session in the evening, (let’s do it!).
This is my sweet spot where I am ‘getting my life’ while also doing the best work of my career. The former enables the latter; they are forever connected — that’s the secret.
What bumps you off your self-care routine and how do you get back on course?
I’m a sucker for a real meaty project or challenge: Lure me in with a creative idea and tight timeline and I’m yours. But this is what could potentially bump me off track.
For example: I have dinner with friends. Plans have been locked in for weeks, however, I’ve been working on a project (which I love) and am almost done. If I push through I can get it off my to-do list early. I tell myself my friends won’t mind if I reschedule and I’ll make it up to them.
When these inner dialogues begin and the negotiations start, I know I have taken a wrong turn somewhere way back there.
The awareness of this is an immediate jolt to get back on track and connect to that thing that lights my fire. For me, this might look like reconnecting with a friend, checking out that flea market in the town over, abandoned building or funky cafe. What it’s looked like most recently is driving 3 hours out of town to somewhere I’ve never been with no wifi and a population of under 500 to try out their famous wines and find something haunted in their antique shop.
But not everyone can take a trip and get out of town, and that might not always be the answer. Self care also looks like saying no when feeling burnt out, distancing yourself from people and things that no longer lift you up, setting aside time for life admin, or just quieting yourself inside and out. It isn’t always glamorous and it isn’t always pretty; but it’s always about truly understanding what you need when you need it.
Where do you go for inspiration, ideas or tools for self-care?
I look to the world around me, to those who lift me up and encourage and empower me to be the best version of myself. I feel insanely grateful for the humans closest to me that call me out lovingly and nudge (sometimes politely push) me to get out into the world when they see me sucked in (or doing any of the things listed in Question #2).
Easy tools for me include pulling up Atlas Obscura (my go-to) and finding something offbeat and wonderful around me to explore. Or going into my bookmarked tabs and checking out a unique Airbnb to stay in and/or work from — flying saucer in Joshua Tree, Hobbit House in San Diego. Hell, you can rent an entire Old West Town to stay in.
Another tool I use when I need a reset is looking up things to do that I have never done before and committing to doing that thing no matter what. No excuses. Book it and go. Maybe it’s a Kokedama workshop or going mushroom foraging with a local Mycological Society.
It’s all about experiences for me — people and places that give me the greatest joy.
While making the time to reconnect to myself and the world around me isn’t always convenient, I am quickly reminded of how the world opens up to me when I put myself out there. The people I meet, things I find and experiences I have start to come easier; and not only do I feel like I’m getting my life, I know I’m taking care of it, and myself.
Before you go…
Self-Care is a content series exploring the different self-care routines and habits of people from all walks of life. Get in touch with us today if you’d like to talk about your self-care routine.