Self-care is a bit of a buzz word nowadays, but what does it actually mean? Well, different things to different people. We are all at different stages of life with different pressures, demands and to-do lists. So self-care needs will vary from person to person, but mostly it is about filling your “cup”. They say you can’t pour from an empty cup, and if our cup was a representation of the energy we have to give to our day, then we need to make sure that it is replenished daily.
But self-care goes beyond the “energy” we give ourselves, and indeed give out. It’s about putting ourselves first; doing something for ourselves that make us feel good.
The Self Care Forum (www.selfcareforum.org) released a guide for Self-care week which uses the acronym POWER. I will elaborate on a couple of them here, but for the full guide, head to their website above.
Out and about and exercise
Eating and diet
Risk and prevention
There are a few facets to this one as personal wellbeing encompasses emotional, physical and social aspects of life. You may read this and feel you are in need of attention in some of these areas more than others.
Connect: It is important to connect with other people – whether that be family, friends, colleagues or acquaintances. Humans are inherently social creatures and if we are not enriching our lives in this way then it can affect our wellbeing. Especially with the new norm of working from home more, some people might not see another person in physical form (rather than online) all day.
Learn: Stimulating our brains by learning a new skill or revisiting a hobby we used to do can be hugely rewarding and give us great satisfaction. I can vouch for this personally as, whoever knows me well will know that I am not very creative in the artistic sense (!). But, stepping out of my comfort zone, I attended a Christmas wreath making workshop yesterday and made my very own wreath! It is now pride of place on our front door and I can honestly say I had the most fun and am very proud of what I created. Who’d have thought?!
Take notice: Being “present” or “mindful” when doing everyday things can help us appreciate what it around us. Children are excellent at this – my children often point things out to me that I otherwise would have missed! Even noticing the colour of the leaves can change your mood – especially when they are beautiful as they have been recently.
Give: Doing something nice for a friend or a stranger. This can change yours and the recipient’s day greatly. A friend of mine recently told me she paid for the person’s coffee who was in the drive through queue behind her – the shock on the recipient’s face was something to behold! But you don’t have to give in the monetary sense – a simple phone call to an elderly relative or neighbour can make a huge difference to their day (and yours) too.
Be active: It is common knowledge now how exercise can impact your mood for the better. Not only does it release feel-good hormones, it’s good for your physical health too. You never regret doing exercise as you always feel great afterwards (unless of course you are unlucky to suffer an injury – in which case we’ll see you soon 😉)
Out and about and exercise
– Getting a daily dose of fresh air does wonders for the soul, plus offers us a great way to get our daily exercise. It is too easy to stay inside in the warm at the moment with the news on, which only increases anxiety levels and does nothing for our blood pressure!
– Move your body! Stretching is SO important to keep your body supple and mobile and can release tension whilst also helping to prevent pain and injury.
– It might be that you feel you want to lose weight and with Christmas looming it feels like an impossible task. Or that you’ll “start afresh in January”. But taking one small step towards your goal before then might mean that you are already seeing progress come January. One suggestion is taking the stairs over the lift – a simple but effective measure and a “step” in the right direction.
Here’s a few more things we recommend you try to help with self-care:
– Reading a book is a great way to immerse yourself and let your mind escape for a while. Similarly, taking a bath is a simple pleasure which is good for both body and mind. With the vast array of free YouTube workouts available, Yoga is fabulous to reconnect with your body and mind. Pilates too, for that matter.
– Social media is a tricky one. It was originally created as a way of connecting people, but it runs the risk of bombarding you with negativity – news (real and fake!) and people’s opinions which can exacerbate feelings of anxiety and fear. If you are finding it overwhelming, limiting your social media time can make a huge improvement to your mental wellbeing and health.
– Focus on your breath. Sounds simple (and possibly a little crazy!), but it really helps to ground you and can calm any negative feelings. Sit in a comfortable chair and close your eyes. Breathe in for a count of 4, hold for 2 seconds, breathe out for a count of 4, then hold for another 2 seconds. This is called box breathing and is an excellent way to calm the mind and body. Notice any feelings of tension melt away as you do this.
– Try pressing on an acupressure point (see picture) for 1-3 minutes. This can reduce anxiety and stress.
When it comes to self-care there is no “one size fits all”, so it is important to spend time trying things out to see what works for you. The rewards are worth it, as are you.