The words ‘self-care’ get thrown around a lot these days. But what does it mean? I like to describe self-care as the act or conscious decision to take care of yourself, first! Now for a lot of people this is a challenging and confronting idea. Self-care is largely taking a moment to tune into what you need. When life is super busy, even stopping for a moment can seem like just another thing on your ever-growing list of items to do. Below are some suggestions to increase your self-care with less effort.
What do I need right now? This is a great question to ask when your day, week or life feels like it is out of control. You have this thinking, that if you stop, even just for a second, life will come crashing down around you. Take a moment…take a breath….then another…and another…what do you need right now in this moment? You may need a drink, to go to the bathroom, eat lunch, a hug, to feel the earth under your feet, to send a message to a friend, cancel a couple of commitments for that day/week, rethink dinner preparation for something easier, maybe you have a headache and need pain relief. What do you need right now in this moment? These are all really basic needs, but too often we are go go go, that we forget to even take care of ourselves in the most basic of ways.
Incorporate it into your weekly schedule. You like reading? Gardening? swimming? dancing? Put it in the diary, schedule your week around it, make that your priority for that one hour. Perhaps book into the same class every week.
You like to spend time with your friends? Set it up! Maybe the same time every week/ month and the day before you figure out what you feel like doing or where you want to go.
It can be hard to find time once the week has started, booking it in at same time every week/ month will take some of the work out of it for you, and make it easier for you to prioritise and make a habit of it.
Start first thing in the morning and start small! You like to start your day with a tea or coffee? Make that your priority! You like to wake up with a shower? Do it. You like waiting for the kids to come in for a morning cuddle? Enjoy the snuggles while you can. However you choose to start your day, make a habit of listing three things you are grateful for. They don’t have to be big.
Today while enjoying my tea I listed off 1) milk in the fridge for my tea, 2) sun shining through the window, 3) kids still asleep, so quiet time for reflection.
Starting the day with an act of self care can have a wonderfully positive flow on effect and increases your likelihood of you continuing to take care of yourself throughout the day.
When you start looking after yourself first others don’t always like it. It is important to remember that by putting yourself first, your intention isn’t to hurt other people but to simply take better care of yourself. Setting kind but firm boundaries may feel unnatural or unkind to begin with, this will pass with time. A good place to start is by saying “no” five more times a day in different situations and with different people.
You might be surprised to find that by looking after yourself first, you have more energy, care and patience for yourself and those you love.
I hope this inspires you to make some small changes to your day. Being mentally and emotionally healthy takes time and effort. Start with one thing and build from there, the more you work your self-care muscle the bigger it will become. If it still feels impossible come in for a session and we can look at what is stopping you and create a plan that supports your needs.
In researching different approaches to better support young people through life’s inevitable setbacks, I came across this great article by Reachout.com. Check out the link below for great ideas on building resilience in teenagers. After all, the best gift we can give our children is the skills and knowledge to be able to fall down seven times and get up eight.