***** Just to let you know I have a more updated opinion piece on Self Care, called “Self care isn’t about bath bombs” which takes a look at how self care’s true meaning has been capitalised upon by modern Western culture. ***********
Self Care is a bit of a buzz word around the internet, and you may be thinking that all this focus on the self and “Self care” is a bit self indulgent, or just an excuse to sit around in your pj’s watching Netflix and eating bon bon’s instead of getting stuff done.
But I actually believe that self care is one of the most important things you can do. Caring for yourself should not be seen as frivolous or indulgent or selfish. A lot of people out there who have demanding careers, or people depending on them like children or elderly relatives believe that they have to give all of themselves to others or outside pursuits and often feel guilty if they focus on caring for themselves even for a few minutes a day.
Everyone is deserving and worthy of self care whether they have people and careers depending on them or not. But for those of us who do have to give a lot of ourselves to others, the fact is that you cannot give the best of yourself if you do not look after yourself first and foremost. You will not be the best parent to your child if you are frazzled and tired and exhausted, you will not give the best to your career if you are stressed out, unfit and unwell for example. To give the best of yourself sometimes you have to give the best to yourself FIRST.
So what is self care?
I like to think of it as ensuring that you recognise and meet your own needs on a regular basis, so that you can be the best version of yourself, for yourself and for others in the long run.
It is ensuring that your physical health is nurtured, and by this I don’t mean putting hours and hours in the gym or only eating kale and quinoa for the rest of your life.
It means looking at whether you have moved your body in a non punishing way today- for the joy of moving not for the pursuit of smaller jeans. It means recognising if you have had enough sleep, if you’re hydrated, if you’re hungry. Sometimes we can be so busy caring for others that we realise we haven’t eaten properly for days or we haven’t slept in weeks and these basic things can easily get forgotten but add up to large amounts of stress and unhappiness at a later date.
Have you ever snapped at a loved one for seemingly no reason, and felt really guilty about it then realised after the fact that you were just hungry (or hangry should we say!)? Or Perhaps you were trying to concentrate at work but just couldn’t focus and missed out on an opportunity for the simple fact that you have neglected to sleep?
Self care means ensuring your intellectual needs are met. You don’t need a degree in quantum physics to meet your intellectual needs (or you might, whatever floats your boat!) but by this I mean making sure you are stimulated by something that interests you on a regular basis.
I’ve been there, after the 27th re-run of In the night Garden, and the only conversation being about boogers and poo poo for 14 days in a row you can kind of feel like your brain has actually melted. When Joe was a baby I forgot who I was for a while and no longer even knew what interested me beyond a VERY large glass of wine and falling asleep on the settee every night.
Meeting your intellectual needs could just be reading an interesting article on the internet, reading a great book you are interested in, watching that documentary or just doing something new.
As a stay at home mum sometimes I can go for a very long time without seeing another human other than my husband and son. Even though I am a self confessed introvert and I do like time to myself, even I need to speak to other human beings some times. Social self care means ensuring you have supportive friends and/family around you, it means finding like minded people to just chat and be with, smiling, laughing and having fun. But Social self care could go the other way. Maybe you need to stop saying yes so much to social engagements, maybe you need to have a night alone without the constant distractions and demands of others.
This could be religion, this could be spirituality or it could be just making sure you are living a life in accordance with your own moral code and values. We all get swept away by the business of life and we often forget the real reasons behind the reasons we do things. Making sure your spiritual needs are met means you have a higher meaning or purpose to the things you do everyday. You could meet your spiritual needs by meditating or doing yoga, praying or going to your place of worship or by connecting with nature.
Finally we have emotional self care. This is about taking time out of your busy life to understand how you are feeling. A lot of the time we try and push away or bury hard to deal with emotions by participating in harmful distractions like overworking, comfort eating, excessive drinking or drugs. Emotional self care means finding the time to be compassionate with yourself, to work through difficult emotions and to give yourself time to deal with stress, trauma and things like mental health problems. This could be doing things like writing a journal, having a good cry, talking to someone – a friend or a therapist or taking time out from a stressful situation to do something relaxing like have a bath or exercise.
I am aiming to try and engage in more self care activities on a regular basis and would like to share some of the practices, advice and tips I learn about this process on my blog in the future, so stay tuned to see more content on self care and well being here at RRandJ.
Let me know in the comments some of the self care practices you follow!