There is a more up to date version of this article here.
In our busy and changing world it often feels like there’s not enough time, especially when it comes to taking care of ourselves. If you’re taking care of someone you’re worried about, or just rushing from one task to another, the last thing you may think about is having some ‘me’ time.
Some people are also sceptical of self-care; like many words in the well-being industry, from resilience to mindfulness, strategies for holistic health are often misunderstood and labelled as ‘fads’. But self-care is health care; we know that in order to be there for others, we have to take care of ourselves.
Although many people think of it as a spa day or a pedicure, self-care is about participating in daily restorative acts that help you get back to centre, especially if you’re going through a difficult time, or helping someone who is. It’s also in the little things:
- Taking a warm bath
- Changing your bedding
- Having an early night
- Reading a favourite book or magazine
It all counts.
Here are some ideas of how to take care of yourself all year round:
Self-care and setting healthy boundaries with yourself, family and friends are important. Making space in your diary every day, even if it’s just for five minutes, can help you rest and recharge.
- Create positive space as much as possible, keep your mental health and wellbeing in mind. Take walks in nature, or just get some fresh air standing by the back door. Do what feels manageable, without feeling overwhelmed.
- Plan things for yourself that help bring you a little sparkle. Self-Care is in the little things: planning your favourite meal. Changing your bedding. Putting fresh towels out. If you know your mood dips at certain times of year, plan for this in a way that helps you.
- Be gentle with the things you say to yourself. Self-care includes self-compassion, knowing that we’re all human and we all mess up now and then. Be gentle on yourself if you do.
- Make sure you don’t run out of your prescribed medication if it’s something you rely on, especially around the longer breaks like Easter and Christmas. Make any calls needed to your healthcare providers, so that you know their opening hours and treatment arrangements over the Bank Holidays
- Have a list of numbers of people you can call if you’re struggling – talk to your doctor if you’re struggling, or Samaritans are on 116 123, 24/7 or text SHOUT to 85248.
- Know your ‘walk-away points’ e.g. decide how you’ll know when it’s time to leave. Think about your resilience and how healthy (or unhealthy) it is to stay in situations that feel uncomfortable. Know your early warning signs of anxiety so you can take positive action when needed.
- Get comfortable saying ‘no’, and not explaining yourself. You can say things like “Thank you, that doesn’t work for me”.
- Practice a form of relaxation before going into crowded, busy or noisy places. Try focusing on your breathing and allowing the breath to relax your body. Notice the coolness of breath as you breathe in, and the warmness of breath as you breathe out if that helps.
- Remember, organising events like birthdays and Christmas don’t have to be perfect. Good enough is enough.
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© Delphi Ellis 2018, updated 2020.