Love yourself first, and everything else falls in line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.
– Lucille Ball
Ah self-care. Another one of those terms that everyone is throwing around. But what actually is it?
To put it simply, it is the actions you take to look after yourself. Mind, body and overall health. Personally I think it is more about giving your mind a break. Doing something that takes your mind away from your to do list, away from that thing your partner said, away from the fact you overslept, away from worrying about getting that job, away from that email you really need to send or that doctors appointment you need to book…ahhhh (stressful just writing it).
Self-care can help you to slow down, hit pause and recharge.
Self-care is a reflection of how you value yourself. So often, everything and everyone else comes first. I’m not saying you must stop doing things for others or working hard. Not at all, those things can feel great. But, if you are spreading yourself thin and pushing yourself to the limit, that probably doesn’t feel great. How are you ever going to be fulfilled and happy that way? And if you are not fulfilled and happy, how are you really showing up for others anyway?
The type and level of self-care you need depends on what is going on in your life and how well you feel you are coping. We are all affected by different things in different ways. For example, if you are going through a tough time, you may require a little extra self-care than normal.
Why is self-care important?
We are not designed to be constantly on the go. When you are running around trying to get everything done and save the world, most of the time your body is in that anxious (fight or flight) state. Your body is not supposed to be in that state as often as it is.
Self-Care enables you to get out of that anxious state and triggers your relaxation state (you know when you are calm? Thinking clearly? And able to feel joy? That state).
Self-care often has a reputation for being selfish and inconsiderate – that’s a load of rubbish. No matter what society makes you think, you deserve to feel good. You deserve to feel relaxed. You deserve to wake up in the morning and enjoy this new day, not dread it. If other people want to do too much, let them. But that doesn’t mean you have to live by the same ‘busy’ mentality. If other people expect you to do things for them at the detriment to your own health…then maybe question the balance of that relationship anyway.
When you make time for self-care, you will feel calmer, happier and more capable of taking on these pressures of everyday life… isn’t that what we want? To feel a little more peace every day?
Self-care is not some kind of fad. Incorporating self-care into your routine has shown to relieve stress, anxiety, depression and to improve self-esteem. How great is that? You get to do something pleasurable and feel better about yourself. Win win.
Where do I start?
Ok here’s the hard part. This is going to require ACTION. As in, if you want to see the benefits, you actually need to practice this. Choosing a self-care activity over one of the million other things that needs doing, will feel so empowering and you will say things like ‘I really need to do this more’. Please do, do it more.
The thing I hear most often, is that people intend to ‘relax’ after this stressful period is over. Hmm ok if it really is just a short spell, then I will go with it…but I’m sceptical, and if brutally honest, I think you might be putting it off. You most likely, will wait until you become so burnt out that there is no choice left but to take care of yourself.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
I know it can sound difficult. You have so much on your plate already, and what I’m saying is to add more to your plate? But honestly, taking this time out will make it much much easier to cope with all the other stuff. Like I said, it recharges you. Suddenly your mind is clearer, and you have access to your coping resources that you didn’t before.
I would encourage you to write down acts of self-care you already do, and begin to do them more consciously.
Here are for 10 acts of self-care. They all vary in terms of time and energy that they take.
Try picking a self-care activity and schedule it in your diary this week. If none of the above appeal to you, have a think or do some research and find ones that do, but don’t give up at the first hurdle. These activities do not have to take up heaps of time. You will be surprised what even just a five minute activity can do for your wellbeing.
Here are my top 3 acts of self-care that always give me space to think, bounce back and without fail, feed my soul.
1. Going to a coffee shop. This has been a go to for me for years. It calms me. With a book or like right now, writing this. I feel peaceful.
2. Exercise – If I don’t exercise, I start to feel lethargic and all out of sync. In general, I will gym a few times a week. If I’m feeling sad or have something on my mind – It might be a walk or 30minutes on the step machine (Specifically the stepper, it clears my mind).
3. Speaking to friends. This a big one for me. Certain friends are key. They ground me and keep me feeling good. If I don’t talk to them enough or check in, I really feel it.
If you have identified that you often feel overwhelmed, snappy, tired, stressed. Then self-care can help. But you have to take the responsibility and make yourself a priority. start now, you deserve it.
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Carly Ann xx