From buying fresh flowers to upgrading your beauty regime - Georgina Lucas finds out what happens when you inject some added luxury into your life…
“Self-care” is a phrase we hear bandied around a lot these days.
From aspirational Insta captions to academic psychological studies, the received wisdom seems to be telling us that we should all be treating ourselves a bit more.
For some people, that means splashing out on a £1000 handbag, while for others it’s more a case of carving out some alone time.
Now, I’m no paragon of thrifty-living virtue, but a combination of new motherhood and a freelance writer’s salary has led to a more frugal lifestyle of late.
Between nursery runs and an unpredictable work schedule, indulgence isn’t really a feature of my day to day.
With that in mind, I decided to put the self-care theory to the test, by going out of my way to introduce some additional luxury into my week.
Would a combination of small but frequent indulgences make a big difference? I was excited to find out…
1. I ate out whenever I felt like it
At one time, I had something of a restaurant habit - late leaving work, tough day, nothing in the fridge - all were bona fide reasons to eat out.
As I’ve got older, dinners (and even lunches) out have become fewer and further between, as I dutifully package up my morning lunch box and head home for a sensible supper of baked potato and beans.
But this week, I threw caution to the wind, starting with a Monday evening trip to my favourite local Italian.
One big bowl of pasta and a chocolate sorbet later and I instantly felt perkier about the beginning of the week.
Tuesday was a poke bowl rather than my usual tuppaware chilli. On Friday, a full blowout - the tasting menu at a ritzy new restaurant opening I’d had my eye on.
As well as enjoying the food, the week felt a whole lot more spontaneous, as I broke from my usual mealtime routine.
Heavier? Perhaps… Happier? Absolutely.
2. I indulged in my favourite beauty products
With time at a premium, pampering often slips down my list of priorities.
My typical beauty routine is minimal, but not this week. First up, a morning soak (one perk of freelance life…), with several capfuls of my favourite bath oil.
Post bath, I put on an under-eye mask to rid myself of any lingering dark circles, and used a skin roller to give my complexion a little boost.
I finished the beauty blitz with a spritz of my new favourite scent - Elie Saab’s new Le Parfum Royal, a heady blend of orange blossom and patchouli with a hint of mandarin and notes of sandalwood.
I don’t usually wear it day to day, tending to save it for special occasions, but this week I decided to use it daily.
The whole routine turned my morning into a ritual - rather than spending a bleary-eyed, pyjama-clad morning typing at my laptop in bed, I started work feeling fresh and ready for the day.
Even if I wouldn’t have time for a bath every day, I’d definitely keep up the rest of the routine.
See if a more methodical start to the day does similar for you - I’m convinced I was more productive as a result.
3. I hired a cleaner
We don’t usually use a cleaner, but the prospect of a week without scrubbing the bathroom or pushing the hoover around was too good an opportunity to pass up.
With that in mind, I got a recommendation from a friend and booked somebody to come and do the entire house from top to bottom.
Getting home that night, it felt like I was walking into a show house – kitchen counters gleaming, dishwasher emptied, handbasin pleasingly limescale-free.
Not only did I have a lovely, sparkly home to relax in, I also had a chore-free night stretching out in front of me.
If it feels like a bit of a guilty pleasure having someone tidy up after you, ask yourself this - is it a price worth paying for a couple of blissful hours relaxing on the sofa, rather than an evening with the dusting?
4. I bought fresh flowers every day
Not many things make me happier than flowers.
Autumn blooms are a particular favourite. Tuberose, crocuses, sprigs of heather covered in tiny buds - heaven.
With that in mind I filled my house with the heady scent of autumn blossoms.
Ranunculus, seed pods and antique roses for the kitchen, dahlias with ferns and autumn leaves for the sitting room and huge hydrangeas for the mantlepiece in my bedroom.
There’s been plenty written about the mental health benefits of bringing the outside in, and I felt lighter and more positive among my new foliage.
It’s something I’d definitely recommend trying if you find it hard to shake off the stress of the working day when you’re home for the evening.
5. I took a solo cinema trip
The halcyon setting of many a childhood birthday, I’ve long had the sense that a trip to the cinema is the ultimate treat.
Not only that, but there’s something about going to the cinema on your own that feels particularly indulgent.
No one to suggest mixed popcorn (no, salted only), no one to make you compromise on your choice of film, no one to talk through the best bits.
That’s why I took myself off on a chilly Wednesday evening to watch the Downton movie - no judgment from anyone, obviously, because I watched it solo.
I skipped the multiplex too, and went to a fancy arthouse cinema instead, paying extra for my own sofa to sink into.
Two delicious hours transported to another world, with no distractions and noone else to consider, purely for my own enjoyment?
Ultimate luxury unlocked.
What did I learn?
It probably won’t come as any surprise that a week of doing lovely things was a pleasant experience, and no, it’s not entirely reasonable to splurge all week every week and call it “self care”.
However, amid all that pampering, I realised that the luxuries that made me feel the best weren’t necessarily the ones with the highest price point. It’s the little things - watching a film, buying a bunch of flowers, spritzing my perfume every day rather than saving it for special occasions.
Low-key changes, but ones that made a big difference.
Adding more luxury to your life might seem, by definition, a bit indulgent, but after my most relaxing, energising week in months, I’m definitely going to do it more often.
Want to add a little more luxury to your life? The newest addition to Le Parfum, the essential ELIE SAAB fragrance range, Le Parfum Royal introduces the exceptional into the everyday with notes of orange blossom and patchouli providing luminosity and brightness.