You may be asking yourself ‘what is self-care?’ and you wouldn’t be the only one! This is a concept that was completely alien to me until a month back when I started training with Time to Change where I was first introduced to the idea. Though some of the other ‘Young Champions’ at the training had already ‘conquered’ the act of self-care, like myself there were many who were totally baffled by this idea, ‘what do you mean I have to take care of myself?!’. From a young age you are taught to always be kind to each other, to share, to be a good friend/family member - so why is it that being kind to yourself is overlooked? The problem is, I don’t believe a lot of people know how, and there are perceptions of what ‘self-care’ must involve. Common suggestions are ‘Yoga’, ‘Meditation’ and ‘watching a film’, so what if you dislike these things, it must mean self-care isn’t for you, right? No, the beauty of self-care is that it is entirely guided by you, it should be fun, relaxing, calming and not feel forced in your daily routine – you should do it because you want to and you like the way it makes you feel.
So what exactly is self-care?
Self-care is those actions in which we undertake to look after our physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. They are acts which personally nourish us, calm us, comfort us and make us feel good. Due to the variety of personal circumstances the actual activities will vary from person to person, what may work wonders for someone may actually be detrimental to another. It is therefore in some senses a ‘trial and error’ of getting in tune with your mind and body and finding what works for YOU. This can include those acts which as seen as ‘essentials’ such as maintaining a healthy diet, keeping good personal hygiene and getting enough sleep. Though these may seem like simple and small tasks, for some such tasks can be incredibly difficult and take vast amounts of energy.
Why is self-care so important?
“Nourishing yourself in a way that helps you blossom in the direction you want to go is attainable, and you are worth the effort.” – Deborah Day
Endorphin release – Many self-care activities have physical benefits, which have a direct correlation to our mental health, for example exercising, releases endorphins (the feel good hormone) that can consequently ‘boost’ an individuals mood.
Stop burning the candle at both ends – By taking time out to care for yourself you are able to remind yourself that your needs are important too. When you feel cared for it can lead to a sense of relaxation and contributes to overall wellbeing. Those that have a habit, I know many of us can relate, of neglecting their own needs and forgetting to nurture themselves which can lead to greater unhappiness and lack of self-esteem. Many people are also always putting others needs first and being the ‘caretaker’, this can result is ‘burning out’ and becoming so exhausted that it is much more difficult to care for yourself and others, therefore by allowing yourself time for ‘self-care’ can actually make you a better ‘caretaker’.
Self-worth – Kick out the negative thoughts! Sometimes our minds can be incredibly unpleasant, they lead us to believe that our needs are not important and that we don’t matter, WE DO! By allowing time in the day for some ‘self-care’ we are fighting these thoughts, we are standing up to them and saying, “Hey, you know what, you are wrong and I am worthy”. Simple right? Unfortunately no, it is not always that easy I’m afraid, you may feel some resistance at first and your mind may fight back, kicking and screaming. The truth is practice makes perfect, the more we practice, the more we will believe.
These are just some examples, the list of benefits is endless! Try it out and see how it makes you feel!
It can be hard think of ideas for 'self-care' particularly when you might be feeling overwhelmed by emotions so I have created a list of 100 starter ideas that you may like to try.
Write a journal
Drink a mug of soothing tea
Having a “positive box” filled with things that make you feel good
Grab some fresh air and sunlight…
…But also allow yourself a PJ day when you need it
Go cloud watching
Have a digital detox – step away from the technology for a while, don’t let it rule your life
Go on a bike ride
Learn to say “No” (or “Yes”) more often – vocalise your needs!
Write a letter to yourself and post it
Play a video game
Go to a comedy club
Don’t compare yourself to others
Travel to somewhere new
Develop a sleep routine
Buy a magazine
Listen to some soothing or upbeat songs
Start a compliments file - read back on all the wonderful things people have said about you
Read some poetry
Finish the sentence “I love myself because I….”
If you play an instrument try learning a new song
Get some rest
Complete the ‘lurker’ task that you keep putting off
Do some gentle stretches
Care for a plant
Join a support group
Create a “Today I can” rather than a “To-do List”
Get a manicure or pedicure
Put on a face mask
Learn the basics of a new language
Be completely still
Wear soft, comfy clothing
Play a board game
Sing your heart out
Get a massage
Start a blog
Go out and take some photos
Have a dance
Watch funny youtube videos
Go to a market
Go to an antique shop
Write out a list of things you have overcome or accomplished
Go to a local cafe
Go through your calendar and schedule “me time”
Know your strengths
Book a night at a hotel
Watch some TV or a film
Make an inspiring collage and put it on your wall
Eat some chocolate
Wrap up in blankets
Ask for help
Find your inner chef and do some cooking
Learn something new
Look at some beautiful pieces of art
Write a postcard and send it to a long-distance loved one
Go through your wardrobe and clear out the stuff you no longer wear and donate it to charity
Listen to an audiobook
Cuddle something or someone
Do some meal prep for the week
Find a scent you find relaxing
Schedule any needed check ups
Learn to knit
Listen to your body
Rearrange your furniture
Create a plan for when you are feeling overwhelmed
Go to a park
Allow yourself to cry
East a meal in silence
Write out a list of reasons why you will be okay
Use your vacation time
Write out a list of why you are a good, worthy and loveable person
Take a long shower
Get creative with some arts & crafts
Spend some time in the garden
Pet an animal
Read a book
Light a candle
Watch the stars
Buy some flowers
Write out a list of things that makes your life beautiful
Take your vitamins
Look through old photos and memories
Cherish your family and friends
Take a long warm bubble bath
Be honest about what you need
Have a quick nap
Edit your social media and get rid of any negative people
Just be you. Be yourself, your wonderful self.
Still no idea where to start with ‘self-care’? The Blurt Foundation put together a worksheet (below), which can help you to create a start up plan to look back on if you are in need of some inspiration.
I’d like to feel...
The things that comfort me are:
The top three people I enjoy spending time with:
The three people who make me feel icky:
Things I’d like to try (food, crafts, adventures):
Dreams which still play on my mind:
The teeniest of steps I could take towards one of those dreams is:
Three items I’m putting up with/could do with an upgrade:
My favourite smell is:
Let me know in the comments below how your 'self-care' is going and what you find works well for you! For now that is all from me, keep a look out over the next week as I will be blogging about the Stigma that comes along with 'Halloween'.
I hope the rest of the day treats you all kindly. Until next time.