• Self Care | Secret to a Balanced, Happier, Healthier Life.

January 21, 2022

What Is Self Care?

Self-care is any activity that we intentionally do  in order to take care of ourselves!  It comprises of several different areas, these include mental, physical, emotional and spiritual self-care. There are also other elements such as social and financial too.

 Although it's a very simple concept and the foundation to living a healthy, balanced life - sadly it is also something so many of us overlook, undervalue and fail to practice often enough.  Convinced we are too 'busy' that it is 'indulgent' or that we will ... 'do it later'!  

If this is you ... then please read on!
You are not alone.

Why we fail to practice self-care.

Our Programming 

If self-care is so wonderful for us and helps us to be our 'best' version of ourselves, less stressed, more in tune with our needs and better able to carry out all the tasks we do on a daily basis - then why, oh why, are we not all shouting about it from the rooftops?

The main reason is our programming and how we perceive self-care, as a 'nice to do', an 'indulgence' and something very far down in our list of priorities.   Our culture has taught us to believe to value and admire those who work hard, rarely takes breaks, sacrifice for others and so on.  We are programmed to fit in and so learn quickly that this is the way. 

Many of us did not grow up having self-care modelled to us as something we should value and practice daily.   In fact, most of us were taught the opposite!  As children we watched the adults in our lives, our carers, parents, teachers, basically almost everyone around, us rushing around, discussing how 'busy' they were and showing us that there was simply not time to stop and sit.  It seemed the message 'Life is busy and you just have to keep going' was one that was taught to us - very well!

In fact, stopping and sitting down may even have been seen as a negative! Someone being 'lazy' and possibly mocked for doing so!! It's no wonder so many of us blindly repeat the cycle of 'doing' and 'being' and 'caring for everyone else'.  It's really no wonder that so many adults struggle with this today and are modelling this same message to the next generation - our children.

Taking care of yourself isn’t a luxury. It’s essential!

The Reality

Self care is a necessity! Yes, I will repeat that. A necessity! It is not a 'nice to do' or 'a luxury' or a 'task' on our to do list ... it is simply how we ensure we remain healthy, balanced, functioning humans in this busy, demanding journey we call life!

Practicing self-care simply means becoming aware of how you feel .. mentally, physically, emotionally and for many of us .. spiritually too!  This is important at all times, but never more so that right now after almost two years of stress and anxiety living through the Covid-19 pandemic.

If you haven't had a good self-care practice to date, then today is a great day to start.  Your future self will thank you profusely for the benefits this will bring! 

Whether we like it or not, our wellbeing has a direct impact on those around us and it's in everyones interest when we ensure that our needs are met and we are pouring from a full cup - not an empty one! The difference between how we could show up and how we are showing up - is often directly linked with how well we re meeting our own needs first! 

Everyone is busy - I know! I'm one of those busy people too.  As adults we get caught up in spinning plates and as we put one down, two more new plates inevitably arrive.  There is never really a good time or the 'right' time to focus on our needs! 

If you’re a busy parent there are even more plates and more needs we have to meet! But how are well showing up for the people in our lives?  Are we our 'best self'? Are we present?  Are we happy with our interactions with others? Or are we tired? Frazzled? Irritated? Reactive? 

Here are 5 simple tips that you can start with

1. Make time for yourself

Right now, much of the personal time that was part of daily routines — commutes, time alone at home or at the store, social time with friends —  is not available for folks with kids at home. Without it, we have to be intentional about creating space to recharge and decompress. This could look like taking a shower or bath, walking around the block alone (or with your dog), or designating time to read or simply zone out after the kids have gone to bed.

2. Be Realistic & Kind to Yourself 

Put perfectionism aside and that inner critic telling you you 'should' do x,y or z.  Setting realistic expectations of what you can actually manage in your day is incredibly important.  We often think we can do much more in a day, than is actually possible.  This sets us up for self sabotage as we end up feeling frustrated that we didn't 'get more done'.

It’s time to be very realistic, both at work and as a parent and tbeing kind to yourself if you only get half your planned 'to do' list completed. 

Practice Kindness, forgiveness and self-compassion and remind yourself that these are unprecedented times. There is no instruction book for navigating this and you’re doing your best during a very difficult time. Cut yourself some slack.

3. Set Healthy Boundaries

Boundaries keep us feeling safe and as stress and anxiety are at a peak right now, it's very important to know your limits. A constant stream of negative news means that it can leave us feeling even more fraught and it can be easier to absorb other people’s fears and concerns without even realising it.

There are times when we have resilience to deal with additional challenges  and times when we just don't.  Tune in, know your capacity and honour that space.  People understand and it's all about how we communicate that.  Simply saying 'I need to take a little space right now to sort out a few things, but I'll get back to you when I can.' or as a friend of mine taught me to say ' I just don't have the capacity for that right now but I'll get back to you when I do.'

You can sympathise but don't need to reply immediately and explain that you’ are taking a break from the negative news and trying to keep your space in balance. You can always reconnect when things are calmer and you are in a stronger position yourself.

 

As women we are often programmed to say 'yes' to everything as part of the 'be nice' programming.  However, this is a fast track to burnout! A really useful article on how to say 'no' politely is here by psych central.  Click Here

4. Do Things That Bring You Joy

It souds so incredibly simple - do things that bring you joy!! But how often do we actually do this?  As Marie Kondo puts it - only keep in your life, the things that 'spark joy'.

Pause and think for a moment about all the things that bring you joy and make you feel happy!  Which of these can you still do during this time of social distancing? Make a list and create some time daily for at least one or two of these activities.

It may be reading a novel, playing an instrument, gardening, spending time in nature. What new hobby did you always want to try out but you’ve been too busy.

Maybe you love to draw or do jigsaw puzzles but with rushing between work and home and caring for kids, you never have time to do one.

Make another list of fun things you can do with your children! Learning to paint together, bake a new recipe, build a lego city, try out a new puzzle, go nature spotting in your garden or learn a fun dance together on YouTube.  There are so many fun things to do that can increase everyones happiness levels and help counter the stress we all fee. 


5. Make Healthy Choices

Sleep | Nutrition | Exercise | Time Out

Juggling so many balls, it's really easy right now to slip into habits that feel good in the moment but are not actually good for our health or well-being.  That extra glass of wine in the evening, staying up too late to 'unwind' and binge watching 3 or 4 episodes of your favourite Netflix series ... not getting out for a daily walk in nature ... all of these things are very easy to slip into, but really only add to our stress. 

Poor nutrition, lack of sleep can play havoc with our ability to cope under pressure!! Think ahead, how do I want to feel in the morning - rested? recharged? healthy?  Then make sure you’re eating properly, try to get enough sleep and create a routine that includes physical activity, 

This doesn’t mean pressuring yourself to get into tip-top shape, or not enjoying any treats or your favorite shows. It simply means keeping these in moderation and being mindful of your bodies needs right now.  Knowing that these positive choices will will have huge benefits not just to you but for everyone around you too!

The Benefits - Are Huge!

Everyone benefits when we make our self care a priority!  Looking after ourselves - mentally, physically, emotionally -  means that we have more energy, mental strength and are better able to stay calm and cope with the challenges we face daily.

When you're running on empty, it's very hard to care for those around us.  But when you prioritise your needs and filling your own tank first, you can give so much more emotionally and physically and care to others when they need it most.

If you found this article helpful, please share it with others who may benefit too!

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