I’ve seen the term ‘self-care’ pop up a lot of late, but what does it actually mean?
My initial thoughts were that is was to do with allowing and giving time for yourself, guilt free…perhaps it is?
So far my own personal journey into understanding and implementing self care has been a bit of a farce. ‘Go and get your hair done’ they said ‘I don’t do hairdressers’ I replied. ‘Go for a massage’ they said, ‘I can’t justify spending £40 on a 25 minute back rub when I have children to feed’. ‘Nails?’ they said, ‘It’s just not ME’ were my thoughts. I’m not trying to be awkward, I promise, I just want to explore the concept of self care a little deeper in the hope that I can find something that suits me and ultimately has a positive long term effect on my psyche (not much to ask then!?). I need to approach self care differently…
For the past few years I have taken myself to a local yoga class. A blissful hour and a half where I am not a mum a wife a pet owner…just me and peace. Our wonderful teacher could no longer carry on the class for a number of reasons and eventually it was taken over by another local yogi. The price of the class went up and I could no longer justify the cost – I knew I would be consumed with guilt at spending that much money on myself when my family need things and such feelings of guilt are not conducive to feeling relaxed and meditative whilst balancing in downward dog or trying to hold a tree pose. So I no longer go and I miss it – my little moment of sanctuary in an otherwise hectic week has gone, *sob*.
Not one to be easily defeated, I decided I would continue yoga under my own steam at home, that’s what youtube is for, right!? Everyone loves ‘Adriene‘, so this seemed like a perfect place to start, but…my house is busy. I have 3 daughters (11,14,17), so there are friends coming and going most days, people rollerskating down the hallway, music playing and just general goings on. I like it this way and wouldn’t change a thing, but it is not the tranquil idyll needed for a half hour of calming yoga. On the days when things were a little quieter, I would grab the opportunity and unroll my yoga mat for a quick sesh, but…I have 2 dogs and a cat. If I shut the door on them they panic and whine and occasionally scratch at the door, if I leave the door open they try to join in. Needless to say ‘Yoga at Home’ is not happening for me. I have enjoyed learning yoga over the past couple of years and hope that in years to come I will be able to return to it, but for now I need to be creative in thinking of opportunities for self care that will work for me and my situation…help!
I work from home and I also homeschool one of my children, this leaves precious little (if any) time for myself. I thoroughly enjoy being with my family, helping with schoolwork and walking my dogs and do not see it as a chore, but I am also starting to recognise that a little bit of ‘me’, my identity, has lost its way. So, I have given myself permission (I’m a guilt junkie in general) to engage in some self care and I’m starting here, now.
According to PsychCentral; “Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Although it’s a simple concept in theory, it’s something we very often overlook. Good self-care is key to improved mood and reduced anxiety. It’s also key to a good relationship with oneself and others.”
I like this definition. Self Care is often overlooked, particularly that which focus’ on our emotional/mental health. How many times have we heard people say “I just don’t have the time”…most folk would afford 5/10 minutes daily to brush their teeth (2x), so why not give 10 minutes to a short meditation, or ten minutes of deep breathing in an outside space, or a short burst of yoga? I’m saying this as much to convince myself as anyone else, as I am the Queen of ‘I just don’t have time’.
I need to think of myself as important enough to deserve this time. Time for self care.
I have decided to trawl the internet and make a list of (realistic) self care techniques that would be useful to both myself and perhaps to you too. I would also like to ask anyone out there (particularly busy working mums) if they have found any aspect of self care that truly works for them and if so, PLEASE share it with me/us…
Self Care Technique list (of potentials):
1. Give yourself 10 minutes of mindful attention every day – perhaps use an app such as Headspace (I reckon even I could find 10 quiet minutes…I think?!)
2. Laugh regularly (I’ve started watching stand up comedians on Netflix etc, laughing is so good for the soul)
3. Be kind – complimenting someone you know or a stranger just because you can can have such a positive effect and not just on the recipient. Be kind to yourself too – I have wasted a lot of thinking time telling myself that I am a useless, fat, spotty failure…I’m (finally) starting to realise that this is super unhelpful. Begone negative vibes!!
4. Treat yo’self – Work out an affordable amount of pocket money for yourself if things are a little tight – even if it’s £5/10 a month…spend it on something just for you!
5. Walk everyday – I do this anyway as I have dogs but I always enjoy it. 45 minutes of fresh air to clear the mind.
6. Unplug! – My husband and I (I sound like the Queen) have started to charge our phones up downstairs overnight to avoid the temptation of mindless scrolling. This has been transformative!
7. Make time for friends/quality time with your partner – Schedule regular times to meet up with friends to have good natter, some good food and a bit of fun, or create a regular time when you do the same with your partner…uninterrupted time for you and other grown ups.
8. Learn – About self care, but about everything else too. I am a big fan of TED talks – I listen to them on the podcast when I walk and I watch them daily. Check these out:
9. Avoid alcohol – this definitely works for me. I do drink, but minimally and my moods and mindset are far more stable for it.
10. Eat well – make time (not always easy I know) to create meals that have nutritional value and that you will enjoy. Your body and mind will thank you for it!
I’d also like to add reflection to the list. Take 10 minutes each week to reflect upon the success of your self care over the last 7 days, perhaps even write it down. Was there anything that you felt wasn’t useful to you? Could you improve things next week?
Non of the above are ground breaking ideas, but I do know that when I have implemented them regularly in the past I have felt much better about myself and so my first step into self care is a promise to me, to make time for simple things, such as those listed above and over time contentment, productivity and self acceptance will (hopefully) follow.
I’m loving this take on self-care from Brianna Wiest –
“It means being the hero of your life, not the victim. It means rewiring what you have until your everyday life isn’t something you need therapy to recover from. It is no longer choosing a life that looks good over a life that feels good. It is giving the hell up on some goals so you can care about others. It is being honest even if that means you aren’t universally liked. It is meeting your own needs so you aren’t anxious and dependent on other people.”