Several years ago, someone told me that their company gives every employee a day off on their birthday. I found that to be a brilliant idea. Since my company doesn’t have this policy, I decided to implemented for myself. For the past few years, I’ve taken at least one day off for my birthday. If it falls on a weekend, as it does this year, then I take a day to make it a long weekend! This is #selfcare in all its beauty, and I encourage you to adopt it.
Like most people with limited numbers of vacation days, my time off from work is often jam-packed. Living abroad, my 15 days of vacations days need to be scheduled strategically in order to squeeze in seeing my family, my friends, and an adventurous trip somewhere. Taking one whole day just to roam around the city had seemed too wasteful before, until I began the tradition a few years ago.
There is something blissfully liberating about not being at work when others are, to visit your favourite spots in the city without the weekend crowd, and to have a day where your only agenda is to do what you want. I don’t plan for the day. I have some ideas on what I’d like to do on this annual self care day, but I don’t force an agenda nor a checklist. I let go of control, and let the day takes me wherever it pleases.
This morning, I started off with a long run down to the West Bund. Shanghai had been blessed with a clear (low pollution) end-of-summer day. My training plan required that I ran 10.5km, but I was in the mood to stroll, so instead of taking a Mobike back after my run, I strolled back and logged 15km in total. Because I can. Because I didn’t need to rush home to shower and to head to work.
On my stroll back, I passed by Bull & Claw, a restaurant that I’d been wanting to try, but haven’t gotten around to it. So I changed my lunch plan with my sister and we decided to give it a go. Because why not? After a quick shower, I headed back out to meet Sherry and a friend for a long, leisurely lunch. They had to go back to work after, and I strolled to a café instead. Pure bliss.
Sitting at a café with my laptop on a workday afternoon for some reason makes me very happy. I wonder how much happier I’d be at work, if I can do this every afternoon. Instead of work, today I decided to update and expand my life bucket list. Surprisingly, updating your bucket list is the adult version of wish list to Santa. I get that exhilarating feeling of possibilities. Except, this time, instead of depending on someone else to grant you your wishes, the decision power resides entirely within me. How liberating!
Checking another year off of the list can be easy, but to ensure each year that we checked off is lived purposefully is not. I hope my life bucket list will remind me to keep taking chances and live life to the fullest. And I will relish in future Birthday Self Care Days to review my progress. If you’ve gotten this far in the post, I hope you also take self care days, whether it is on your birthday or not. Let me know how you spend them. I would love to learn and be inspired!