Self-care is the latest buzzword and trend of the moment. Although I’m loving that more and more of us are advocating, promoting and practicing self-care, there’s also a part of me that finds it strange to be ‘trending’. It should be something that we practice on a daily basis regardless of our circumstances – not because it’s the latest hype word or fad out there. Never the less, the concept of self-care is all around us at the moment and I’m loving it! There’s just one problem – it seems to be very one dimensional and if I’m being honest, quite overwhelming! In fact, I’ve seen so many self-care routines stretch to even an hour long with a list of 100 things to get ticked off in the process that it stops being an act of self-care and instead becomes an anxiety ridden hour of ‘must-dos’.
I suppose one of the main reasons self-care has come to the fore-front of the health and wellness space, is that with the stress going on in our current climate, diet culture being at an all-time high, with fitness crazes through the roof and social media playing a bigger role in our lives and mental health than ever before, the NEED for looking after ourselves has also risen – I’d go so far as to say it’s essential if you truly want to be healthy in this day and age.
There is so much pressure out there now-a-days that without reconnecting to ourselves on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis, it can be so easy to feel stuck, lost, unworthy, alone and disconnected from our bodies. When that happens, our bodies can no longer serve us to the best of their abilities and we notice feelings of dis-ease creeping in.
It’s so important to understand exactly what self-care is so we know what we are aiming for, without getting too caught up in the hype of it all.
When you think about self-care, what comes to mind for you? Is it meditating, going for a walk, having a bath or perhaps making a smoothie? Well, all of those are forms of self-care but it’s essential we stop focusing on one thing and start looking at self-care from every dimension – there’s so much more to the practice of caring for one’s self than we truly understand and once we’re aware, we can put the steps in place to make sure that we are truly nourishing ourselves from the inside-out. It’s time to start practicing self-care for the PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL and MENTAL parts of our bodies.
When looking after the physical state of your body, it’s important to remember that this includes not only the outer appearance and what you can see, but also what’s going on underneath the surface. Physical acts of self-care include:
Walking is a great way to move our bodies in a gentle way that not only stimulates lymphatic flow and increases our incidental activity, but is also a great de-stressing activity as well. Walking keeps our fitness levels and activity levels up, while helping to re-set that rest and relax state (so important for our general health and well-being).
The majority of our bodies are made up of water, so it only makes sense that we need to drink plenty in order to be truly healthy and function at our best. Something as simple as getting those 2-3ltrs of water a day is an act of self-care in its own right because without water, we just wouldn’t feel great.
Now, who doesn’t love a good dance?! Whether it’s out with a group of friends, going to a weekly class or just dancing to your favourite song with the door closed, dancing and moving your body to music is a great way to boost your mood and physical health at the same time. If you feel you’re getting a bit wired and tired, flip the switch – turn on your favourite uplifting song and get your body moving!
This could be self-massage using your favourite essential oil blends, using a dry brush every morning or even scheduling in time to get a massage. Any form of massage is again great for moving that lymphatic system, helping to shift the toxins from our bodies as well as helping us tap into that rest and relax state we could all do with more of. Plus, touch is a great form of self-care and even a long snuggle and cuddle would be a fantastic use of 5 minutes out of your day and an equally great form of self-care.
Finally, as well as MOVING our physical bodies, caring for our physical bodies also includes what we choose to put in them. Try to avoid eating processed and highly refined foods, limit refined sugary foods, cut out alcohol and try to stick to these 5 healthy eating principles:
Looking after our emotional state can sometimes become the last thing on our priority list. We all know to look after our physical bodies and mental health awareness is at an all-time high so we can’t really escape from that – but what about our emotions? Our emotions are living, breathing and powerful which means that they need caring for in their own way.
We are all social creatures and have evolved to be that way. We can get so caught up in our own lives that taking time out to relax and catch up with a friend might be the last thing on our minds. However, it can be just the tonic to make you feel 100 times better! Take 10 minutes out of your day to call a friend – NOT text, online message or email, but really talk! If you can meet up with them in person, then even better!
With all the pressure (self-made or through other people) we experience, it’s no wonder we’re left feeling emotionally drained, a bit lost and confused of where to go next. If you’re feeling a bit low or your anxiety has hit an all-time high, seek the help of others. Book a session with a professional therapist, coach or mentor to help guide you through this transitioning point in your life.
Looking after our emotional state requires having a strong support network around you. Look at everyone in your life and who you can lean on. It’s so important to have a wide support system that can cater for all your emotional needs rather than expecting or hoping that one person can fill that role. More importantly USE your support system whenever you feel like you need it. That might mean having a phone call with your bestie, organising a girl’s night or even having a cuddle with mum.
Practicing gratitude has actually shown to help improve our mental and emotional state and even reduce anxiety by bringing us back to the present and focusing on what is good in the here and now. It doesn’t have to be a long, drawn out process and can even be 5 minutes in the morning (to set yourself up for the day) or in the evening (to help tap into that rest and relax state before bed). I’ve created a FREE GRATITUDE JOURNAL to help get you started.
I am the biggest fan of journaling and it can be a great way to check in with how we’re feeling and re-connecting with ourselves – important when it comes to practicing emotional self-care. Some great ways to journal are:
Looking after your mental state is not only about caring for your mental health (although really that’s so connected to your emotional state), but it’s more about giving yourself the mental CLARITY you need to be the best version of yourself possible. That way, not only are you serving yourself the best way you possibly can, but you’ll find you’re able to be there for others and serve them to the best of your ability.
This is about understanding who you are and what you desire from life. What do you envision for your life? What is it you want out of life? What do you want more or less of? Create a vision board of everything you desire for yourself and write down where you’d like to see yourself NOW, in 5 YEARS time, in 10 YEARS time and in 15 YEARS time. The more mental clarity you get on where you’d like your life to go, the more likely you are to take the action steps you need to in order to get you there.
This is about taking time out! Life can be so hectic that sometimes we just need that time to switch off from the world and get stuck into a good movie, TV series or podcast so that we can disconnect. When things get too overwhelming, sometimes the act of disconnecting can help us to reconnect. Listening to a motivational podcast can also lead to inspiration and give us the mental clarity we need to push forwards.
This is all about being CREATIVE! Getting creative is a wonderful way to pull us out of any funk we might be experiencing and also a great way to force us outside of our comfort zones. This could be going outside and painting the landscape, taking up a drawing class, colouring in a colouring book, playing a musical instrument, writing or even playing with your kids. All creative activities help us to check out of that fight or flight mode, provide us with mental clarity and give us a break from the hustle and bustle of life. Find something you enjoy or even a new hobby and give it a go (I’m such a huge fan of knitting!).
Research has been shown that a tidy living space can actually help to reduce anxiety and provide more mental clarity – a wonderful self-care practice when looking after your mental state. This could be:
As well as organising your living space, a wonderful way to gain more mental clarity, reduce anxiety and feel a little less stressed than usual is to organise your life! Make use of calendars, diaries and to-do lists to help you organise everything that you have going on in your life. That way, it’s all down on paper and doesn’t have to be stuck in your head. There’s so much going on in our lives, that releasing the pressure of having to keep it all tucked away into memory can help free up some space to think clearer and feel better!