Some may think that self-care means spending a lot of money visiting day spas and going for facials. Whilst it can mean that (if that’s your thing!); it doesn’t have to. It doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg either. In fact, it doesn’t need to cost anything at all.
So, what exactly is self-care?
Self-care is essentially about making the time for yourself to recharge. It’s about the activities intentionally undertaken to restore your energy, your health and your mind. It is about reducing stress. You can’t pour from an empty cup. The same is true of yourself. Instead, you need to intentionally take the time to refill that cup (You!). Self-care shouldn’t be an emergency response to a stressful time or crisis; it should be something that is incorporated into daily life. What one individual does in the name of self-care will be different from the next person. What works for Jane won’t necessarily work for Janelle.
Listen to your heart. Listen to your mind. Listen to your body.
Listen to the voices of your trusted friends to identify what you need! There is no formula and your needs will likely be ever evolving. Learn to adapt and change the activities you need to support your well-being. I once heard someone speak about making time for one hedonistic activity per day. I thought this was a great way to approach self-care! In case you were wondering, a hedonistic activity is one in which the primary purpose is pleasure. Now what this activity is, is up to you. The options really are endless when you think about it.Here are a few areas to consider… The Physical You
- Partake in physical activities you enjoy such as visiting the beach; going for a hike; or doing a Pilates class. It could even be something non-fitness related such as baking! Baking can be a beautiful way to unwind and the bonus is you’re left with something delicious to enjoy afterwards 🙂
- Manage your stress in a positive way. Try to work through stresses as they arise rather than suppress them. Suppressed stress has a way of compounding until one day it explodes. This only leads to greater stress and anxiety in the long run.
- Ensure you’re getting enough sleep and rest to help your body recuperate. There is no prize for the person who survives on the least number of hours sleep. They’re probably not functioning at their full capacity if they are truly getting as little sleep as they say!
- Spend quality time with close friends and family. Nurture these relationships and be the support each other needs.
- Ensure that you have diversity within your relationships too. If you’re only friends with work colleagues there is no separation between work and home. There’s no real downtime if you’re spending all your time outside the physical realms of your job being surrounded by work people!
- Spend less time around or in toxic relationships (this is another whole topic on it’s own!!). It is something that I have learned as I’ve grown older. Life is too short just being ‘nice’ to others at the detriment of your own self.
- Try to achieve a balance between work and life outside of work. I understand this isn’t always possible and there are times when you need to hustle. Make sure this doesn’t become the new norm as it will lead to burn-out. Instead, work in ‘sprints’ if at all possible so you’re only hustling for short bursts with time to recover in between.
- Be part of a community with similar interests. This could be a sporting activity or any other hobby. For example, I have always loved woodworking and so before our daughter was born, I joined a women’s woodworking community. We’d meet regularly and chat whilst creating beautiful pieces of work. It not only allowed my creative side to flow but also was a great outlet and chance to chat to other lovely women of all ages and walks of life!
Spirituality and Mindfulness
- Take time for regular spiritual practice or to simply practice mindfulness. It’s amazing what you can learn about yourself when you stop and listen to your heart’s message. Meditation and yoga are a beautiful way to do this and I know that I always walk out feeling balanced and grounded (even if I didn’t want to go in the first place).
- I’ve been starting to journal lately as a way of practicing gratitude and creating a positive vibe. Each morning I write down three things that I’m grateful for and set my intentions for the days. In the evenings I reflect upon what happened, what I’d like to improve and what I’m looking forward to tomorrow. I’ve found that it’s not so much the words that I’m writing but there is a lot gained from the process. It allows me to unload and not hold onto unnecessary tension and stresses in life. My intention is to keep at this for the next 2 months and then reflect upon how this practice has impacted by mental well-being.
When starting out on your self-care journey, write down the things you enjoy doing for no other purpose than pleasure. Create a daily planner of the self-care activities you will be incorporating today to help you stick to it. Create goals identifying what you aim to achieve; what you need to do to get you there; and then assess afterwards how it went. Don’t be too hard upon yourself if something didn’t work; learn and adapt what you’re doing. Life is a continual journey. We are constantly learning and trying to better ourselves. As long as we are moving in a general forwards direction, we are achieving something.