Self-care is a concept which has come on to my radar in a very big way over the last few months as I’ve journeyed through a mental health minefield.
Following a series of stressful events, I found myself burned out and completely depleted. I felt permanently exhausted, continuously anxious, regularly ill with a variety of cold and flu viruses and like I just couldn’t cope with ‘normal’ day-to-day activities anymore.
People kept telling me ‘You can’t pour from an empty cup’. And I knew they were right.
So I decided to find out how to refill my cup. Right to the brim. And how to keep it that way moving forward.
I had just started working with a wonderfully inspiring, kick-ass life-coach and burnout mentor at the time, and it was her who first introduced me to the idea of self-care.
I quickly realised that I had been putting very little effort in to caring for myself.
I was a perpetual people pleaser, always wanting to be seen by others as ‘the good girl’, I was a round-the-clock perfectionist who would never feel ‘enough’. I was my own worst enemy.
During one of my 1:1 sessions with my mentor, she pushed me to analyse why I hadn’t been caring for myself. Cue life changing revelation…
It all boiled down to the fact that I just didn’t think I was important enough to dedicate time to.
‘WELL, THIS HAS GOT TO CHANGE ONCE AND FOR ALL!’ screamed a voice inside. And I knew it was right.
It’s taken me some time to get to grips with my own self-care; learning what soothes me, what energises me, what inspires me. It’s an evolving project, one that will be a life’s work. But I can tell you now: it’s really worth dedicating time to.
YOU ARE WORTH DEDICATING TIME TO.
So, in homage to ‘Self-Care Sunday’ (a day duly renamed by Kick-ass Mentor in order to remind the ladies in her community to put themselves first for once), here is my own list of self-care activities. This is a list that I’ve added to over time, and that I’ve subsequently divided into four categories for my own easy-reference guide to giving myself what I need to feel good.
- Enjoy a good cup of tea.
- Get comfy. For me, this usually involves a cosy blanket and slouchy clothes.
- Deep breathing exercises. This can help to relieve tension and can provide a ‘pause’ during chaotic moments.
- Time alone. It’s okay to give yourself a break from other people!
- Enjoy a cuddle. A good hug releases oxytocin (the connection hormone) and dopamine (the feel-good hormone) as well as lowering cortisol (the stress hormone).
- Fresh air and daylight. We all need daylight to help us with Vitamin D production.
- Listening to music. I choose music according to what I need in the moment- upbeat for energy and something soft for relaxation.
- Food. I make sure that I eat regular, nourishing food that is pleasurable for me. Take care to avoid comfort eating which only serves as a way to ‘stuff down’ our emotions.
- Positive thinking & affirmations. When things get tough, when you find yourself in a bit of a negative spiral, taking a step back and listing the positives can really help. I like to use affirmations too, for example ‘I release all restrictions and I’m free to be me.’
- Reading. For me, there’s nothing more soothing than getting lost in a good book.
- Creative activities. This is a BIG thing for me. Being creative helps relaxation, and lets you see progress and results in a relatively short space of time. My personal choices for getting creative include- cooking/ drawing/ colouring/ cleaning (yes, you have read this right, I said cleaning!)
- Enjoy a bath. I mean the truly indulgent kind, with lots of bubbles, candles, soft music, perhaps a face mask and maybe even a glass of wine!
- Exercise. What better way to get the feel-good hormones flowing? Personally, I love walking, running and yoga. Choose something that you enjoy and that leaves you feeling energised.
- Watching TV. Go on, treat yourself to your guilty-pleasure-trashy-TV, if that’s what makes you feel good.
- Meditation. Find your inner bliss. You can find endless lists of guided meditations online to get you started.
- Self-development. Get to know yourself, learn something new, gain new skills. Whatever it is, feed your inner drive for self-actualisation.
- Pampering. Our bodies deserve some TLC too you know. Easy-peasy pampering at home, for me, includes: painting my nails, moisturising, plucking my eyebrows, spending time on my hair and make-up, face masks, hair masks etc.
- Journalling. This is something that has become second nature for me now. Before bed is a great time to write and to clear your head of all of your thoughts, ready for a peaceful night’s sleep.
Self-Care with a Little More Time & Planning:
- Phone a friend. Whether it’s catching up with that friend that lives at the other end of the country, or calling your best friend for a vent about something stressful, having a real conversation with another human can make you feel connected again.
- Go out for a coffee. With a friend, or alone, get out of the house and spend some time just ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’.
- Creative activities. Some creative activities take a little more time, planning or equipment. I enjoy getting into a project like baking, sewing, photography, decorating and gardening.
- A trip to the cinema. With treats like ice cream or popcorn. Obviously.
- Pampering. Some pampering is just better when it’s done by someone else. Go for a massage, a spa day, get a manicure, a hair cut. Remember, you deserve it.
Self-Care for the Diary:
- Time with friends and family. Schedule in some regular fun! Keep connected to those who are most precious to you. Make memories.
- Live music & theatre. For me, there’s something so inspiring about watching other people show off their talents.
- Travel. Whether it’s near or far, plan it, get out and explore the world. It’s food for the soul.
- Take a class. As I said earlier, we all have a natural, innate drive to develop and reach our full potential. So why not develop your skills as part of your self-care?
I dare you… choose to do something to care for yourself today. It doesn’t matter whether it’s big or small, just keep topping up your cup!