If you are one of the many people who still think that self-care is a) selfish b) just a fad c) a millennial excuse for a bit of pampering d) just another WOKE thing… I ask you to seriously think again.
What’s the first thing they tell you in an emergency demonstration before you fly off to your holiday destination (you know… the one you booked so you could have a break from everyday life and recharge your batteries) In the event of an emergency, Put Your Own Oxygen Mask On First!
They tell you that because if you can’t breathe or you are struggling to breathe you are not going to be any help to anyone – in fact you will become the one that needs help!
But why do we have to wait for an emergency to put our self-first???
So, before you pooh-pooh the idea of a little self-care, let’s look at what self-care can look like.
Yes, it can look like a pamper session, a bubble bath, a face mask etc but it’s also so much more than that…
It’s making time for – prioritising – what you need when you need it.
It may be an email you need to send to stop it going over and over in your head, a phone call you’ve been putting off, a gym session, a girls night out, a spring clean, a de-clutter of your home, a movie, a hot chocolate, a night away from the kids, learning a new skill, a nap, a good night’s sleep, an afternoon alone, a massage, a walk outside to feel the sun on your skin, eating a healthy meal, having a takeaway, buying a new top, trying a new face cream, writing in your journal, finally apply for that job you always wanted, buying yourself some flowers, doing some gardening, washing your car, going to a yoga class, getting out your colouring books and pencils, staying in bed for the whole day, giving yourself a mental health day from work, going for a swim, walking the dog, catching up with an old friend, painting a picture, move your furniture around to make your space look different, dancing around the house to your favourite music, cuddle up with your dog and read a good book… or one of other endless things you might consider as self-care.
Whatever it is that you need to either lighten your load, relax your mind and body, or help you grow is self-care.
One of the most important things that is seriously neglected by the majority of people is taking a mental health day from work. I’ve heard some that like to boast that they ‘haven’t had a sick day in 5 years’… but when you ask them if they have been sick or stressed in that time they almost always say yes. They wear it like a badge of honour and then wonder why they end up sick and exhausted. Take the time WHEN YOU NEED it.
Okay, while you try and work out what it is that you need let’s start with some self-care basics that as human beings, we all need…
Fresh air – Get outside at least once a day and take a few deep breaths of the fresh air. You can incorporate this into your daily routine if it makes it easier to remember, try parking away from your workplace, shopping centre, on the school run and whilst you take a walk to your destination, take in a few deep breaths and feel the fresh air fill your lungs.
Hydration – Drink water and plenty of it. If you – like me – forget or just don’t enjoy it enough to remember, try adding fresh or frozen berries or citrus fruits to your water or one of the many cold water flavour bags now available to give your water more flavour and hopefully making it more tempting to drink.
Sunshine – Again with the getting outside. We all know that we get our vitamin D from the sun, but we get so busy we don’t take the time to just get outside and let our skin soak up the happy hormone. The extra walk you are now taking from the car (to get some fresh air) will help with this, but it is important to spend some quality time out in the sun (whilst protecting yourself with sunscreen). Take a walk in the park or along the beach and absorb your Vitamin D. You will instantly feel better.
Relaxation – So many things work for this, and many are just a personal choice so take the time to try a few and see what works best for you. Some ideas for you to try: a bubble bath, a meditative shower (visualise washing all your stresses away and them going down the drain) and early night, curl up with a good book, progressive relaxation technique. There are so many other things that could help you to relax, you just have to find your thing.
Meditation – This works so well with Relaxation. Relax your body buy focusing on your breathing and your mind calms and begins to relax. The calmer your mind and body the easier it is to see things clearer, understand things more and know what you really want. There are lots of different ways to meditate, you just need to find the right one for you.
Learn – Never stop learning. Read a non-fiction book, watch a documentary, take up a new hobby, take a course, there are loads online that are low cost and will get you started on whatever subject you are interested in. Learning is a great way to open new doors, discover new things and grow.
Exercise - I know there are a lot of people that don't enjoy exercise - i was one of them for many years, but once you feel the difference in yourself it becomes far less of a chore and you may even find yourself looking forward to it. Exercise not only helps your physical health but it works wonders on your mental health too. Keep trying different types of exercise until you find one that works for you
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone – Try something new, something for the first time. It could be as simple as ordering a cappuccino instead of a latte, a club sandwich instead of a BLT, a quarter pounder rather that a big mac, a spin class instead of a yoga class, an armchair instead of the sofa, a herbal tea in place of a regular tea, a different shopping centre, restaurant, café, movie theatre, a different section of the car park…. The possibilities are endless to shake it up and try something new.
De-Clutter - This seems to many to be too simple to have an impact. Yet the difference it makes is astounding. Less clutter in your physical life has an impact on your mind and mental health. You will feel lighter, see things clearer, and relax more, both physically and mentally.
Let Go – Learning how to let go is one of the most important things you will ever do for yourself. Let go of past mistakes, hurts, traumas, anger, frustrations and people – it’s time to move on. And you do that by making peace with whatever happened, forgive yourself and the others (forgiving is for you, not them – they don’t even have to know - and it certainly does not condone their behaviour), you choose to leave it in the past where it belongs. Remember it was only ever meant to be a lesson, not luggage to carry around. Put it down, say goodbye and move on.
Self-care is a balance between letting go of the negatives in life and embracing the feel-good positives.
Make time – and if you are about to scoff and say something like – oh, yeah, it’s that easy – I will point out that yes, it is that easy, it may feel alien to you, but that’s something for you to work through. It’s as simple as prioritising what you need – putting yourself at the top of the list, just as the flight attendants would have you do.
Prioritise yourself and you will have more of yourself to give to others, more time to give to others and more to teach others. for more Self-Care ideas: 36 Self-Care Ideas to Help You Fall In Love With Yourself
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