I have never felt very confident about taking selfies. I mean let’s face it, when you work from home most days, or spend the rest of the time in hospital, you don’t tend to get overly “dressed up”! I just figure no one is going to be feeling very inspired by my daily uniform of jeans, sweater and comfy shoes. And even less inspired by my PJ’s on longer hospital stays, or my regular fortnightly outfits of jeans and a low-cut top to allow for portacath access! That said, there are the occasional times when I have plucked up the courage and posted the odd photo. And you know what? It’s inspired ME. The photo above is what started it all. Let me explain…
Yesterday I actually posted this selfie from hospital. I was wearing a simple shirt I have to fasten at the neckline with a tiny claw-clip to protect my modesty, but one I chose to wear for three reasons: 1. My son bought it for me for Christmas. 2. I love the colour and 3. I need tops that be either opened at the front or have a low/wide enough neckline to allow for portacath access! I wasn’t having a particularly good hair day and didn’t feel very attractive at all but I did it anyway! And then I went one step further and actually posted it in a closed group run by Nikki Parkinson. A group where women like me – who love style but struggle with public posts of their selfies – can feel safe and supported and share their photos/outfits and get feedback or advice. WELL! Was I glad I did!
You see, when you work from home and also spend a lot of time in the hospital, you can get kinda lonely. You often feel a bit isolated. Most people have work colleagues to chat to each day, but I only really have the cat, social media, clients and doctors or nurses! So yesterday when I let my guard down and posted my pic knowing full-well it wasn’t really particularly stylish or inspirational, the response from the SY community was honestly both overwhelming and humbling. It seriously made my day to chat/thank all the lovely ladies who took the time to comment on the colour of my top, or my hair, or whatever they saw “behind” the photo. I hope my courage to share a photo of myself looking less than glamourous was inspirational. I know it was for me because I got to meet a whole bunch of encouraging and supportive souls I would not normally have had the pleasure of conversing with.
As one who lives with a life-long chronic illness – an invisible disability – I know all about the power that comes from looking good to feel better. Some people wonder why I would bother wearing makeup in hospital, or to care about my hair when I’m confined to bed. Or how I muster up the energy when I feel so unwell and know no-one is going to see me here, working from home. My answer is and will always be this:
“To be quite honest, if I allowed myself to look on the outside the way I was feeling on the inside, I am certain I’d frighten small children! But more-so, for me to see a reflection of my illness in the mirror would depress me no end. And to allow myself to get depressed about it would mean I’d have twice the problem! I’d be struggling to just get out of bed every day and worrying about the future. When I fake it, I make it. I convince myself that I will live to see another day; that I will be OK if I just keep on keeping on and take those baby steps each day towards looking and feeling normal.”
Here are some of my top tips for looking good to feel better:
Smile. Laugh. Be Kind To Others
“The best way to make yourself feel good is to make someone else feel even better.” Alison Triffett
It’s impossible to feel sad if you smile. It’s a proven scientific fact. So fake it ’till you make it! Because even a fake smile will send those endorphins through your system and help you feel better. AND every person looks beautiful when they’re smiling.
Smiling at strangers; smiling at people you pass in the corridors; asking how others are feeling today and genuinely waiting to hear their answer; paying a stranger a compliment; sharing a funny joke or anecdote.
Invest in These Three Key Makeup Items
If you use nothing else on your face be sure to have (with you at all times):
- A good concealer
- A lippy that you love
- An eyelash curler.
These three items make the world of difference when it comes to looking alive and awake. Of course, you don’t have to stop at these three! A mineral powder makeup (my fave is Nude by Nature) will go a long way to making you look and feel better with no technique required. You can even sleep in it (I never do, but it’s very good for your skin, so if you happen to fall asleep in it, you’re pretty safe). Of course, you don’t have to do a full-on makeup, but if you get into the habit of always doing ‘something’ you will be amazed how often you hear “You look so well! You don’t look sick at all!”
Next time you’re feeling horrid, even just treating yourself to a lovely new nail polish can do wonders for your fingers and your spirit. My latest addition from OPI really made my day yesterday too…
Pretty PJ’s and Lovely Loungewear
We spend a lot of our life in bed. When you’re suffering from a chronic illness or are a frequent-flyer in hospital, to have comfy PJ’s that make you feel pretty are classic wardrobe must-haves! Some of my PJ’s (Summer mainly) can pass for dresses. And if worn with strappy, comfy flat sandals, no one would even pick them as jimmy-jams! I’ve been known to get into those at 3pm on a hot summer day!
It’s a big ask to wash your hair in hospital. Not only do you have to ask your loved ones to lug in half of your bathroom cupboard, but if you’re sharing a bathroom with another patient, you feel very conscious to not hog it for any length of time while you wash, condition, treat, blow-dry, straighten or curl your locks! This is where your dry shampoo and perfecting your own “Lazy-arse Plan-B” will come in very handy.
So what’s a “Lazy-arse Plan-B” I hear you ask? You know, it’s that good little stand-by hairstyle you use on day 3 when you just can’t be stuffed doing your hair. Perhaps it’s a ponytail or sock-bun top-knot? Or a plait. Or claw clip french roll. Whatever it is, when in hospital, it really helps to have perfected your plan-B hairstyle. Stylists Tip: For me, it’s a low, side ponytail. Why? Because high ponies don’t work well in hospital – it’s too hard to lie back comfortably with that thing smack bang in the middle of your head. Trust me!
Get Back to Your Roots
Dark roots are the bane of my life – especially in that week before I’m due to get my roots done. And life being life, it will usually throw one of its curve balls at me that will have me laid up in hospital and staring at those damn roots! As if I don’t hate looking at my hair in that week at the best of times, you can imagine how much I’d love it (not) when I’m bed-bound, feeling like shit and then convinced I look like shit too!
Enter, my life-saver: Root Touch Up/Concealers. I’ve tried them all! I’ve been using “something” for years. Back in my modelling days I even used to use eyeshadow! Thankfully, there are now other products designed specifically for this. My all-time favourite was Colorsmash Hair Shadow, but you guessed it…it’s now been discontinued! There are plenty of other products out there – all of which I think I’ve trialled (and will continue to) but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post (coming soon)!
When you look good you really DO feel better.
Please take it from me. It IS worthwhile spending a bit of extra time on your grooming/styling each day. It IS good for your self-esteem to like what you see in the mirror. It IS healthy to look healthy, even when you’re not.
How do you cope when you’re not firing on all four cylinders? What do you do to make yourself feel better? Apart from chicken soup, which I didn’t mention above because that’s just a given! 🙂