Self-care has got a really bad rap. Utter the words ‘I need some time for me’ and there’s a fear that people will think you’re selfish or a bit of a new age hippy in your thinking, or worse still, there will be people that actually think that (cue the eye roles and looks of disgust). My response to that? Get over yourself and forget the people who don’t respect that you do need time for you. The alternative is becoming completely frazzled, exhausted and run off your feet, desperate for some ‘you time’ but feeling completely undeserving of it. You will charge forwards, fraying around all the edges until BANG, burnout city. So, if the words ‘I need time for me’ are doing laps in your head, then listen. And if people start rolling their eyes at you, turn on your heels and walk in the opposite direction! Their opinion is not worth your self -care.
So let’s clear this up, right here, right now, here we go….Self-care is not selfish, it’s necessity! Got that? It’s as important as eating, breathing and brushing your teeth, which are all pretty essential in my book, although I know there are those out there that let the last one slide – you know who you are.
So many of us fail to take time out, and the reasons behind that go deep. One reason may be that you don’t feel you deserve it. When you feel unworthy of love and care, you are going to neglect yourself. And the more you neglect yourself, the more you believe you are unworthy of love and care – see the cycle there, it’s a nice, peachy, self-hating, self-destructive trap. The only way you are going to kick that cycle is to stop and change your thinking behind it. Take control of those pesky thoughts and implant some new ones! Start small, remind yourself every day that you are worthy, and that you are enough and give yourself a little something for you. If you’re struggling for ideas on what you could give yourself, keep reading as I will throw some suggestions at you later.
Another reason we may neglect our self-care is the responsibility we feel for others. If you have people around you that you are responsible for in some way, it can make you shift all your attention onto them, you go all out on their needs, while what you need has been relegated somewhere far, far away (a galaxy, a deep, dark hole – who knows). While on the outside that may seem like a noble thing to do, trust me it’s not. A friend of mine who is a practising counsellor uses this analogy when talking about self-care; ‘imagine you are on a plane that is crashing, the flight attendants tell you to put the oxygen masks on before you help others’. That analogy sums it up perfectly, you’ve got to have your own back first, before you can attempt to be there for others, it makes perfect sense.
So what is self-care? It’s anything that gives you time to nurture and take care of you. I’ve listed a few things below that you may like to try, but remember, it’s what self-care is for you, it’s got to be about you and work for you. No point writing a journal if you hate writing. So don’t try and crow-bar yourself into the idea of self-care, actually take a little time to figure out what nourishes you. Feel free to stray from my list, and create your own, then share it and spread the ‘self-care’ love.
So here are some ideas……
- Get cosy with a knock out bed time routine. Okay I know this may sound boring, but hear me out. I have learnt to make bed times about comfort, luxury and all things nice. A favourite read or colouring book – check. A mug of something yummy to drink – check. Let’s avoid the coffee here people, herbal all the way, or a sugar free hot chocolate, we’re not loading up on caffeine for bed time! Turn the lights down, snuggle up, puff the pillows and relax. Make your bedroom a haven, no phones or computers, surround yourself with things that encourage rest and ease. As part of my bedtime routine I do a few yoga stretches, I write down or draw anything that’s bothering me (I get creative and doodle here), I then read for about 15 minutes and then lie back, and do some deep breathing. Snooze central here I come. Now if your bedroom is lacking in serene and chilled vibes, maybe you could make that your project, making your sleep space an awesome space for you. That has self-care stamped all over it, and possibly a few shopping trips for soft furnishings!
- All things crafty. So I’m a creative soul, and one of my self-care to do’s is to make things. I have taught myself many crafts over the years. Being creative soothes my inner turbulent seas and gives me a real outlet. And something beautiful comes out of it at the end. Win, win. You don’t have to be Picasso, it’s not about anything other than taking time for you.
- Nature walks. I’m blessed to live by the sea and I’m a stone’s throw from some pretty nice woodland. I know we don’t all have the sea and the green stuff on our door step, but if there is somewhere local to you that you can take some time to walk and breathe in some fresh air, go for it. Your body will love you for it, and your mind will love you for it. Put the tech down, step outside and be with the 3 dimensional folk.
- A friends get together. You and some pals could get together to have some fun. Whether its cooking and enjoying a meal together, going to watch some comedy, a curry night, a day out – whatever it is, make time to enjoy your nearest and dearests company and create some memories. As human beings we work best when we are part of community, so reconnect with your tribe and have some fun.
- Bath time, spa style. I’m not talking a quick dip with a splash of bubble bath here. I’m talking candles, music, bath salts – the works. If you’re gonna do it, go all out. Lock the bathroom door and sink into those suds.
- Learning something new. For me, I always want to expand and push my boundaries and in a way that is self-care too. I’m pretty good at hemming myself in and convincing myself ‘I can’t!’, so I’m always setting myself challenges, things to do that I’ve never tried before, or doing things that scare the hell out of me. This way I know I’m combating my negative patterns, and replacing them with thoughts of ‘yay, I just did that!’.That is a big thumbs up in the self-care stakes.
- Take care of yourself physically. Yes, that does mean eating well, drinking plenty of water and getting a little exercise in your life. Join an exercise class, or do some yoga stretches at home in the morning or evening. You don’t have to be a slave to these things, or become a nutritional expert, but bringing these things mindfully into your life can give you a really boost. You are worth taking care of.
- Treat yourself to something new. I’m not encouraging you to go blow all your cash on some designer threads or a mega expensive car – although if you can afford it, why not! For me a treat is something a little more grounded; breakfast at my favourite café, a new face cream, a new piece of clothing, comfy socks. You could treat yourself to a yummy dessert, get your nails done, trawl the library for a book to read or movie to watch. Get the idea? Good. Little treats reinforce the idea that you are worthy. It all starts with you remember.
- Take yourself of on an adventure. Go off and explore. Maybe there is somewhere you have been longing to visit, or a trip you have been meaning to take or a show you want to watch. I bet you are thinking of a few adventure ideas right this second. Now is the time. Get planning.
- Mind-mapping. When our mind is whizzing with too much stuff and worry, and stress are becoming our new best friend, creating a mind-map can work a treat. Write your worry in the middle of a page and then write all the thoughts coming off of it and surrounding it. Making it visual can really help you process it and come to a solution.
- Breathing and mindfulness. 5 minutes a day is all that it takes. 5 minutes of paying attention to nothing except what is happening with you. It’s as simple as this –notice your inhale, notice your exhale, if your mind butts in, guide your attention back to your breath…and we’re inhaling, and we’re exhaling. By doing this you are going to become more aware of you, of your patterns of thought and of those things you may need. Here you are creating space to focus and get in touch with you. How often do you check in with yourself?
- Journals. I recently discovered the awesomeness that is the bullet journal. If you don’t know what one is, getting googling. They are your own personal journal, created and designed by you. People use them to note what they are grateful for, what books they want to read, how much water they drink per day, daily sleep patterns, mood, movies to watch, the possibilities are endless. If dumping your inner landscape onto paper in a fun and creative way works for you, then this will be right up your street. I have gone a step further and started to create a memory journal. It’s a journal containing all my treasured experiences and also where I note the experiences I want to have. If you are not the arty sort and the thought of coloured pens and drawing fill you with fear, this option can still work. Writing down how you feel everyday can work wonders, even if it’s only a few lines. Or you might be a budding writer and want to splash your journal pages with poems, and heartfelt words. You can get really symbolic here too. Sometimes, if there is a thought bothering me I write what it is on a pebble – no more than a few words work here for obvious reasons! I then throw that pebble into the sea or a river, where it can be washed away. If water is a no go, write or draw on paper and then burn it – remember take care with this one, I don’t want emails from people that have frazzled their hair or set light to the cat. Caution people!
- Sofa day. To those of you that have spent an entire day on your sofa, in your pj’s and done nothing but sleep, watch movies and eat – I salute you. We have busy lives, we work hard, it’s go, go, go. It’s only right that we stop, stop, stop too.
So, now you know what self-care is and you have some ideas to role with, get cracking. Self-care is not selfish – I repeat, it is NOT SELFISH! It is the best way to honour ourselves and the ones we love. Big self-care hugs to you all.
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