Updated: May 20, 2021
We all know the term 'self care' and we know we should be doing it, but how many of us actually make time for it on a regular basis? I'd guess not enough of us. It is one of the key things I look at with my clients.
The first very important point I want to make is that self care is not selfish!!! It is in fact essential to your physical, emotional and mental health. Ever heard the term you cannot pour from an empty vessel? -In other words you cannot give give give at some point you also need to take. Take some time to rest and to make time for you.
Personally I have varying degrees of success with self care mid week as life is busy with kids, a partner, pets, my own business and a house to run. But I do make sure that Sundays are always a slow pace day as a rule. I love to crochet, I like to sit on the sofa with a nice blanket, a cup of tea, a silly film on the TV and crochet for a couple of hours while Sunday dinner cooks. Bliss!
I also attend an annual yoga retreat run by my wonderful yoga instructor and friend Alison. I escape once a year to a wonderful location without internet or phone signal and have a full nourishing weekend of yoga and amazing food. This keeps me grounded, happy and gives me a well earned break. I love my family dearly but everyone needs and deserves a break.
What self- care can you do?
Go outside and get some fresh air. Go for a walk or a run or even just sit in an outdoor space and take in the surrounding noises, sights and smells.
Get moving. Do some yoga or gentle stretches, go for a walk, a run, ride a horse, visit the gym, whatever works for you. Even just 20 minutes of gentle exercise a day is enough to help keep your mind and body fit.
Be creative- draw, write, sing, crochet, sew, knit, make mud pies, who knows! Do anything that gets your creative juices flowing and immerse yourself in the activity.
Eat. Eat regularly and eat healthy, good food to fuel your body and mind.
Drink. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water ideally as it truly is the best thing for us. Avoid too much caffeine or alcohol and avoid dehydration as it reduces energy, dries out our skin, causes confusion and can cause headaches.
Talk. Call a friend or family member and have a good old fashioned chin wag. How many of us spend all day on our phones texting and scrolling through social media, and don't actually speak to people. Hear another persons voice and laugh with them.
Rest. Slow down, sit, have a nice drink in peace, meditate or even take a nap. You deserve it.
What about self care when you have nothing left to give?
Sometimes we are so burnt out from life, low mood or anxiety plaguing our every waking (and often sleeping) moments that we feel like we haven't even got the head space to consider self care. Just getting up, washed and dressed and "doing life" feels like it's taking every ounce of our energy up. So what then?
Retreat. Find some space for just you, clear your diary of any unnecessary commitments and any social commitments that wont make you truly happy.
Nap. As above, rest and recuperate. But remember to limit nap times- a 20 minute power nap is perfect and never nap longer that 1 hour during the day or it will affect your night time sleep routine and it might leave you feeling groggy and unpleasant.
Reduce electronic noise. Take a break from social media and the news, maybe even a break from electronic devices all together. The reduction in mental stimulation and negative commentary will help, plus research has shown that reducing our exposure to the blue light emitted by our electronic devises helps us to sleep better.
Settle yourself with doing the bare minimum. Often we seek to continue high standards of living and doing/achieving all of the things even when we are struggling., this could be from pressure on ourselves, pressure to be a perfectionist, or fear of judgement of others. Try to be kind to yourself- doing the bare minimum for a little while until you feel better is fine as long as you (and anyone else you are responsible for) are at least eating and drinking and occasionally washing. No-one will die if the house is a mess or you haven't replied to that text immediately.
Look after yourselves xx
Author: Gill Jackson of Gill Jackson Therapeutic Counselling, BA Hons Counselling, Diploma in Couples and Family Therapy, CIPD, SMACCPH
Bio: I am a Therapist/Psychotherapist and Accredited Mentor in private practice in the UK. Qualified since 2007. Working with adults, young adults and children. I specialise in Anxiety Disorders and Depression.
This article is not intended as a replacement for medical advice, if you are suffering from any physical or mental ill health please seek advice of your Doctor where necessary.