7 Ways to Self-Care
Self-care is one the biggest things women overlook when it comes to themselves. I know, I've been there and if I'm honest, I still haven't achieved what I'd consider an optimum level of being able to self-care. But I've started the journey and that's the most important thing.
We grow up being told what to do and when to do it and how. We don't get taught to just stop for a minute and breathe deep. So we continue running the same race and some of us get to where we thought we were headed, and some of us don't. Either is okay because your path is unique to you and no-one will travel that road for you.
However, with age, hopefully comes wisdom. And one of the things I've learnt since joining the working world is that work is always there, your list of things to do will never quite finish and there is always something else you'll be able to find to keep yourself busy. But being busy doesn't necessarily mean being productive and it definitely doesn't mean optimum productivity. The problem is that as an adult, you're on your own to figure that one out. No-one's going to tell you to go out and play or get some fresh air. At some point, you need to take stock and see if what you're doing right at this moment is right for you.
Self-care is a huge topic. It encompasses everything from new things you can do or old things you're doing which you could try doing in a different way. What self-care will look like for you and how it will fit into your life is up to you. You know best what you can make time for and what may be a little too much to attempt right now, but don't worry. It's a process and you'll probably find a couple of things that you can stick to and others that you just won't have time for.
Exercise - I'm sure this sounds like yet more "health guru" chatter, but honestly? Exercise is one of the most rewarding ways you can start to self-care. It's free, can fit around your life, you can do it on your own or with others but most importantly, it will have amazing mental and physical health benefits for you. Trust me, your mind and body will thank you. You don't have to join a gym, in fact my personal suggestion would be to start walking or running outdoors, and maybe taking up yoga or pilates.
Eat Well - this probably sounds like advice your mum gave you about eating your vegetables, but it's honestly true. Ensuring that you eat a balanced diet which is high in protein and fibre as well as some carbs and healthy fats will make a huge difference to your mental and physical wellbeing. Eating heavy, stodgy food and having a diet high in these will leave you bloated and lethargic. Cut down on these and replace them with lighter, fresher, in season produce to see the difference. If you're a chocolate addict, try replacing it with a low fat instant hot chocolate instead.
Meditation - I will be doing a separate post all about meditation for beginners but it's an excellent way to slow and relax your mind and switch off mentally. I find that one of the problems with modern lifestyles is that we don't get the amount of time to switch off that perhaps those growing up 40 years ago, probably would have taken for granted. We live in a hyper-connected world and people can always get ahold of you, phones are ringing, social media is calling your name and so much more. Grab a yoga mat, find a flat surface and just let yourself, be.
Express Gratefulness - this could really fit in whilst you're meditating or journaling perhaps, or even just 10 mins of reflective time. Focus on what you have going for you and what is good. Express thanks for that verbally and let yourself hear it. It's okay to say "I am grateful for my family" or "I am grateful for having weekends off." Whatever you can think of is fine. When you spend time thinking about what you do have, you don't have time to think about what you don't have.
Keep a Journal - this might be a bullet journal or a regular diary, but find somewhere to write down what's happening and how you feel to allow your mind to let go of those thoughts in your head. I don't journal every day and there's no rule that says you have to, but every few days I usually jot down a few points about what's happening in my life. This helps me to keep track of how I'm feeling in that moment but also to look back at how much things have changed.
Disconnect - this one might be more difficult for some of you depending on what you do and what else is happening, but if at all possible, I'd highly recommend turning off all technology and maybe reading a book instead. Leave the TV off, switch off the computer, don't check social media or send text messages. Just sit with a hot drink and read a book.
Surround Yourself with Positive People - this point has been absolutely key for me, and one I found easy to achieve. It's a strange way to put it but I tend to read people very well and I can generally spot who is genuine and who isn't, as well as those who will look out for you and are generally positive. I have no time at all for negative people - by that I don't mean people who tell you off if you're really doing something wrong, but people who do not have it in them to want the best for you. I always want the best for others and I will always try to help as much as I possibly can so for me, negative people are a waste of time. Positive people will help you and guide you and allow you to be who you are. And you are enough. Remember that.