Lifestyle

The Importance of Self Care

What a year it has been! A year when we perhaps have rediscovered the meaning of community, and caring for people around us. Caring for ourselves however, may have fallen a bit further down the priority list. Stress and worry, loneliness and feelings of powerlessness have enveloped all of us this year to some degree. And, as we start to see a glimmer of a light at the end of the tunnel, perhaps it is time to start a new self care initiative.

Self care is really important. And yet we still seem to get it confused with selfishness. Let us be clear: Self care is vital. And what is selfish about wanting to be the best version of you? The only way you can give yourself to others is to give to yourself first. Giving yourself the “me time” you deserve, to positively get in touch with your mind and your body, will allow you to be the very best you that you can be.

Stress is something we all suffer from in varying degrees, and when I start to feel stressed, I know that I need to take myself off and gain some perspective. I need to slow my mind down, and accept what I’m feeling is perfectly natural and my list of ‘things to do’ will still be the same whether I am stressing about it or not. Stress does not hurry us up, or transform us into more effective people. In fact, it does the absolute opposite.

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One of the ways I look after myself these days, is to practice saying ‘no’. As adults and carers we are conditioned into saying ‘yes’ most of the time.  It is OK to say ‘no’ sometimes, though I know saying ‘no’ is tough! But it is incredibly liberating! Of course we all have to do things we don’t want to do; that is just part of life. But so many people agree to do things they do not even have to do. We want others to like us and accept us; we want to be there for them, meet their expectations, and please them. But we are also creating resentment and regret when we don’t consider our own needs. This can lead us to becoming more critical of ourselves and may spiral into negative self-talk, which can lead to symptoms of anxiety and depression.

I’m a huge believer in exercise as a stress reliever. It is amazing how an hour on my treadmill, or doing one of Adriene’s yoga classes on YouTube, can remove me (temporarily) from a stressful situation, and allow my brain to put things in perspective. It doesn’t even have to be conventional exercise. Take yourself off for a brisk walk, a browse in a book store, or just go out for a cup of coffee!

When we distance ourselves from a stressful situation, and give it some time, a sense of perspective will soon drain it of it’s power.  I was particularly worried about a situation at work last night, but this morning, having slept on it, it doesn’t seem so insurmountable after all.  Sleep, (plenty of it) can do that.  The phrase ‘Sleep on it’ is one of the best pieces of advice!

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Looking after yourself is crucial when you are feeling a bit battered by life, (particularly in 2020!) Remember to take time out every day to remind yourself how utterly fabulous you are. Think of all you have accomplished in the last week/ month / year! Just remember you can’t be super woman or man 24/7 , and you will stop being super at all, if you don’t take care of yourself.

I know that there are some that will sniff at this type of advice, and suggest we should all get on with it and stop whining, but you wouldn’t run your car into the ground without an regular trip to the garage for a service would you?

Practice a little self care every day. It’s not an overindulgence and it will allow you to take responsibility for yourself and deal with all that life throws at you. Looking after yourself is an investment for your future.  With that in mind here are 50 quick self care ideas. Print this page and stick it to your fridge for some inspirational reminders every day!

  1. Take 15 minutes out of your day to do absolutely nothing. Use those minutes to rebalance and ground yourself.
  2. Count your blessings and make a gratitude list.
  3. Plant and grow something. If you don’t have garden get a window box and grow some herbs for cooking.
  4. Get outside and BREATHE.
  5. Draw or paint something, even if you don’t think you can draw or paint!
  6. Walk briskly for 10 minutes.
  7. Get an early night.
  8. Have a long indulgent bath complete with candles/bubbles and your favourite chilling music.
  9. Watch something funny on TV.
  10. Put on your favourite tunes and dance around your house.
  11. Make something. I have had a go at making my own Christmas decorations this year. I totally lost myself in the task for a few hours which was so relaxing.
  12. Pay it forward, do something lovely for someone.
  13. Meditate.
  14. Listen to some music.
  15. Turn off ALL your devices for as long as you can manage it.
  16. Cook and eat a vegan meal.
  17. Drink a cup of peppermint tea.
  18. Go outside and look up at the night sky
  19. Take a walk along a beach or woodland area.
  20. Get a haircut.
  21. Buy a new outfit.
  22. Take some vitamins.
  23. Listen to an audio book.
  24. Tidy up and declutter your living area.
  25. Make a list of places you want to visit in the next few years.
  26. Indulge in a cream cake.
  27. Binge watch a Netflix series. I’m loving The Crown.
  28. Write a list of things you are good at and things you like about yourself
  29. Take a power nap.
  30. Give yourself a home facial or a hair treatment.
  31. Light some candles.
  32. Have breakfast in bed.
  33. Take up Yoga. Power poses can have a hugely beneficial effect on my self esteem!
  34. Make a scrapbook.
  35. Declutter your wardrobe and donate what you don’t wear anymore to charity.
  36. Do an online course.
  37. Redecorate a room.
  38. Take some photos.
  39. Practice breathing exercises.
  40. Download some self care apps
  41. Compare less and compliment more.
  42. Rescue an animal. If that’s out of the question, donate
  43. Volunteer.
  44. Plan and make a three course meal.
  45. Drink more water.
  46. Stretch.
  47. Take a brisk walk.
  48. Bake a cake.
  49. Do some colouring.
  50. Join or start an online community such as a book club.
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