Self-care isn’t just about having an early night

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We hear more and more about self-care nowadays and it’s interesting to really reflect on what this means and its importance in our everyday lives. 

There still seems to be some stigma attached to the idea of self-care and it’s common to feel that putting yourself first is selfish and that we should be looking after others. But how can we do this if we have no time for ourselves.  In the words of the American drag queen and TV personality, Ru Paul, “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?” 

This phrase really resonates with me and reminds me of something that a client mentioned to me recently – they were afraid to put themselves first in relationships, but have recently realised how important it is for them to “put on the oxygen mask first before I can help others”.  In other words, by ensuring that we feel able to cope, that our stress levels are low and that we are feeling happy and resilient, then we are in a much better place to care for others.

Me-time is often last on the agenda and I’m here to remind you that it really should be top of your list!  Self-care doesn’t have to involve a huge time commitment, nor does it have to mean shelling out the cash.  It’s about making a commitment to putting yourself first, even for a short time.

It’s a good idea to get started with self-care by dividing it into bite-size chunks:

  • Physical – when you’re caring for your body, you’ll think and feel better as well
    • How much sleep are you getting?
    • Do you have enough exercise?
    • Are you managing your health?
    • Are you eating well?
  • Social – close connections are key to your wellbeing
    • Are you getting enough time with your friends?
    • Are you keeping in touch with friends and family?
  • Mental – what’s going on in your mind can really influence your psychological wellbeing
    • Be kind to yourself, practice self-compassion
    • Make time to do things that mentally stimulate you – chat with a friend, do a crossword puzzle, read a book, learn about something new
  • Emotional – it’s important to be able to process your emotions regularly
    • Don’t bottle everything up inside
    • Talk to a partner, friend or family member, or even a stranger

You don’t have to tackle everything all at once.  Your self-care plan will need to be able to fit in with your life and your needs and we’re all different.  Think about making small changes like going to bed 15 minutes earlier than usual and listening to music rather than scrolling social media; or taking a walk around the block at lunch-time; or saying no to something you don’t want to do.  The more you can work self-care into your schedule, the more you will begin to enjoy your life.