What is meant by self-care?
When I think of self-care I consider how I take care of myself emotionally, physically and mentally at home and also while working. It’s about balancing my needs and ensuring I don’t overstretch myself. Taking time for you and focusing on self-care is a daily practice, not an as and when you think about it, or actually have to. It’s before stress sets in and the anxiety builds.
Why is it so important?
It’s important because YOU matter. You are important enough to take care of yourself, however some people really struggle with this.
Why self-care is often neglected
Sometimes we have just got out of the habit or we tell ourselves that we are too busy dashing around after children or others. We are chasing home after a full day’s work, grabbing something quick to eat and very often off again. Sometimes it’s staying late at work and as a result not getting to be with family or friends. For a short period of time that’s doable. But in the long term we get to miss out, burn out and begin to neglect ourselves in the process.
Why are YOU important that self-care matters?
For anyone of you that has flown before you may have heard this, but the airlines have known for years that YOU, yes, YOU are the most important person on-board when it comes to the oxygen mask being released in an emergency situation. The instructions are that you are the first person you need to place the oxygen mask on. You need to take that time to care for you. After that you can help as many people as you are able. However, if you fail to take the advice and neglect yourself you will only manage to help 2-3 people before you run out of oxygen yourself.
So, in life the principle is the same
So what is important about taking time for you?
It allows you the opportunity to recharge your batteries and focus on something that nurtures you. Opportunity to explore new things. Spend quality time with family and friends.
Self-care is not about being selfish. According to Nicky Lidbetter, the Chief Executive of Anxiety UK,“It’s the opposite. Self-care keeps you healthy, so – in turn – you can better support your family and friends.” (Lemon, 2018)
Afraid of starting something new or just don’t think you can or have the time?
Check out this TED Talk by Stephen Duneier to see what he thinks is possible. As Stephen demonstrates the importance is starting small. It seems that anything from there is possible.
What sort of things can you do and why are they beneficial?
It can be a small step such as having a cuppa or really taking time out and exploring yourself through counselling. There are many things you can do for yourself to slow down and recharge yourself or get more active. Not sure what to do? Ask family and friends what they do. In the meantime here’s a few areas to consider….
It’s normal this time of year with the London Marathon currently in the news to suggest you get running, but running isn’t for everyone. Anything from walking to running can be beneficial for the mind and body. Anything that helps get you moving and focus the mind, even something such as lawn bowling can help relax and change how you breathe. Those feel good endorphins are released during exercise, and as a result sleep may become easier and energy levels may increase.
Healthy approach to food and drink
A healthy relationship with food and drink is important in order to take care of yourself. Being mindful of what you put inside your body is just as important as what you do on the outside to take care of it.
Quality time with friends
This doesn’t have to break the bank and can be as simple as a cuppa round at a friend’s house or a walk. Sometimes just having contact with another person during the day can allow you the time to take for yourself. This is particularly useful if you work from home and don’t really engage with many people during the day.
Turn off ALL electronic devices from time to time.
With modern day technology we are instantly accessible and often to the point we become a slave to the very technology that was designed to help us. Turning devices off occasional and managing your time when using them can really help regain some you time.
Not an artist?
Doodling, adult dot to dots or colouring is the modern day way to being mindful, it enables the mind to be focused on something that you can get absorbed in. It uses a different part of the brain to that of stress, anxiety, depression or trauma and whilst engaging in the process the breathing naturally adjusts and often settles into a relaxed rhythm.
Are you getting enough and is it quality sleep? Understanding how food, drink, snoring (self or partner) and mood affect your sleep is important. If you go to bed worrying you are not likely to get a good nights sleep. Research has shown that the brain repairs itself during the sleep cycle and men and women differ in how much sleep they need according to the Sleep Research Centre at Loughborough University. (Woman’s Vibe, 2018) Sleep is an essential part of our wellbeing.
Meditation, Yoga or Tai Chi
While it’s not for everyone it can be beneficial, even if being mindful is all you are able to do to start.
Be nice to yourself
Be mindful about how you talk to yourself. Harsh critical self-talk is not a loving approach for yourself. Hold in mind and consider how you would support a friend who was struggling and allow yourself the same consideration.
So, take some time now and think about how you can take better care of you. And remember taking time for you is not selfish as Nicky Lidbetter said “It’s the opposite. Self-care keeps you healthy, so – in turn – you can better support your family and friends.” (Lemon, 2018)
Picture: designedbyjess (2018) ‘Literature.’ [Online] Available at: https://pixabay.com/en/literature-paper-book-bindings-3176774/ (Accessed: 19 April 2018)
BBC Media Centre (2017) Mind Over Marathon [Online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/proginfo/2017/17/mind-over-marathon (Accessed: 19 April 2018)
British Snoring & Sleep Apnoea Association (2018) Helping You To Stop Snoring Today [Online] Available at: http://www.britishsnoring.co.uk/national_stop_snoring_week.php (Accessed: 23 April 2018)
E Smith (2018) When self-care becomes self-destructive [Online] Available at: https://lemonmaguk.com/2018/04/13/when-self-care-becomes-self-destructive/ (Accessed: 19 April 2018)
Heads Together (2018) Mental Health Marathon [Online] Available at: https://www.headstogether.org.uk/changing-the-conversation/#marathon (Accessed: 19 April 2018)
Positive Thing Only (2018) 10 Things to Do in Order to Stay Healthy, Love Yourself, and Build a Happy and Fulfilling Life! [Online] Available at: http://www.positivethingsonly.com/build-a-happy-and-fulfilling-life/ (Accessed: 19 April 2018
S Duneier (2017) How to Achieve Your Most Ambitious Goals [Online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQMbvJNRpLE (Accessed: 19 April 2018)
Womans Vibe (2018) Study: Women need more sleep because they use their brain more [Online] Available at: http://womansvibe.com/study-women-need-more-sleep-because-they-use-their-brain-more/ (Accessed: 23 April 2018)