How Fashion Creative and Artist Tara Chandra Digitally Switches off When She Needs a Break
Welcome to Bedtime Stories, an interview series where we ask inspiring individuals to share their nighttime routine and sleep secrets – from the beauty products they can’t live without to the tricks they swear by when they’re too tired to function (no coffee needed). For this instalment, one of Australia's most influential fashion creatives and artists Tara Chandra, reveals how she's able to mentally and physically switch off from social media when she needs a break.
For those who may be unfamiliar, Tara Chandra is one of Australia's most influential content creators who has an audience of thousands, which she has steadily grown over eight years.
At only 23-years-old, the Sydney-based creative is full of goals — she has a unique and eclectic eye for fashion that continues to amaze, she styles, she illustrates, she creates TikTok content, and she sources and sells vintage clothes online.
It's safe to say she's constantly online.
However, even though her day-to-day schedule demands her constant attention, Chandra knows the importance of trying to find time in the day to remove herself from the internet. Simple acts of self-care like naps, regular walks, a soothing skincare routine and ASMR videos help keep Chandra on top of her game when she needs a mental break.
Here, Bed Threads Journal sat down with the inspirational creative to find out how she manages to juggle it all and still find time to practice self-care when she's not online.
Hi Tara! Your career demands a constant online presence — how are you able to mentally and physically switch off when you need a break?
Mentally switching off means I’m physically switching off. I’ll usually physically step away from my phone and do something else like digital drawing, watch some TV, do something creative, read, journal or step outside.
But, if I’m being honest, I feel like I’m able to consume online, without feeling the need to contribute to my ‘online presence’. A lot of the time I go online to post a few Instagram Stories and reply to people, then I’ll ‘switch off’ by watching TikToks. Although I’m still on social media, it doesn’t feel like I’m contributing to anything, so it feels like a break.
What time do you go to bed? Can you walk us through your bedtime ritual?
I have bedtime phases where my body clock falls into a rhythm for a few weeks or months at a time until something throws it off. For example, an early start or a late night. I was sleeping quite late (1:30-2:30am) for the first few weeks of lockdown, however, I’ve gradually been sleeping earlier around 12am-1am. I don’t have a set ritual because I just do what I feel like. Most of the time I’ll FaceTime my boyfriend and go on Instagram or TikTok before bed, but other nights I’ll just watch something on Netflix or YouTube, or just read. It really depends! I like giving myself an option.
What sleep or beauty products do you swear by that you won’t go a night without?
I have eczema all over my body and my face is extremely sensitive, so I don’t regularly use products aside from my everyday moisturizer. For anyone who has a skin condition like mine, Epaderm cream is a lifesaver. For the days that my skin is extra dry, I’ll start with Epaderm, followed by a layer of Avene XeraCalm A.D. Balm.
Other than that, I’ll work around whatever my body needs. If I’m having a bad eczema flare-up, I’ll use steroid cream (I try to limit my usage to two days a month due to Topical Steroid Withdrawal). My hands are dry so I’ll use Lanolin Allover Everywhere Multi-Cream.
What is your solution for those nights you simply can’t nod off to sleep?
ASMR Sleep Videos: I always thought ASMR was strange but one night when I couldn’t sleep I came across an ASMR Sleep YouTube video in my recommended list. I put my phone face down and I fell asleep in 5 minutes. My current go-to is this Fall Asleep in 15 Minutes ASMR Sleep video. I used to always fall asleep in the first play of the video but now I usually have to play it twice because my mind will wander for the first 10 minutes. But 95 per cent of the time I'll fall asleep in the second play.
Lavender oil: I've started to smell some 100% lavender oil I bought in Tasmania. Does it actually work? I’m not sure, but I'm trying it anyway.
Listen to music: I found a random sleep playlist on Spotify and I’ll set my timer to ‘stop playing’ after 30 minutes. If I’m still not asleep by then, I just lie in silence and hope for the best.
What time does your alarm go off in the morning? Can you walk us through your morning routine?
I currently freelance and I work to my own hours, so I don’t set an alarm unless I have a commitment or meeting in the morning. We’re in lockdown, so I just work when I feel like working or when I have a deadline. The past week, my body has been waking up at 8:26am every morning.
My morning routine usually consists of me lying in bed and going on my phone till 9-9:30am. Is this unhealthy? Probably. Will I keep doing it? Yes. I’ll then get out of bed and scrape my tongue (an important step! If you don’t scrape your tongue, I’d definitely look into it because it's life-changing) and brush my teeth. I’ll then eat breakfast and start my day by writing a to-do list of everything I want to get done.
What are three things (besides coffee) that help when you’re too tired to function?
1. I rarely drink caffeine (if I do, it's green tea) so my go-to is power naps! A good 15-minute nap, with a timer set for 20 minutes is amazing and a great skill to have. Yes, I deem power naps as a skill because falling asleep in 5 minutes and only sleeping for 15 is difficult and takes practice.
2. If I can’t fall asleep when trying to nap, just lying there and resting works just as well.
3. Sugar. I usually feel physically sick if I’m too tired to function. If sleep isn’t an option, I’ll eat something sweet and attempt to ride the sugar-high life for an hour (this is my last resort and will only be done if it needs to be).
What do you normally eat for breakfast to kickstart your day?
My everyday go-to is just an easy and quick bowl of Carmens Fruit & Nut Muesli or their Cranberry, Blueberry & Goji Berry Muesli, with half a sliced banana and Vitasoy Oat Milk. I still live at home, so my mum usually makes green juice in the morning (60 per cent vegetables, 40 per cent fruit and water — and pulp, always!).
What are your top tips for finding time for self-care?
This Bedtime Stories has made me realise how often I listen to my body for cues on what to do — and that applies to this question, too. If you feel tired, take a break, have a nap or go for a walk.
If you have a flexible schedule like me, sometimes I’ll just sit down for 5 minutes and simply think about what I want to do and what I feel like doing. If you do this often, you’ll know when you need and want time for self-care. Create space in your day and week for this. I recently took a day off where I forced myself not to even think of work. I hadn’t done this before and it really helped me relax, and focus for the rest of the week. But typically, I’ll make sure to get all my work done before dinner (usually the bulk before midday, have a break for a few hours, then any smaller tasks during the afternoon) and I’ll have the rest of the night off to do whatever I want.
If you work with set hours - think about how you can integrate this into your before/ during/ after work hours. 10 minutes of self-care every day is better than nothing — even if that’s just staying in the shower for a little bit longer (but not too long because we like saving water!) or sitting in a park during your lunch break.