You may have heard the word “self care” thrown around a lot lately. I know I love to preach about it whenever I get a chance!
So, why is it such a buzz word all of a sudden? Is it just another “thing” that we have to add on to our to-do list (because there’s plenty on that list already)?
Well… it is and it isn’t! Self care really means taking care of yourself first, prioritising your needs and making time for something that makes you feel nourished and alive (I’ll hear you ‘buts’ soon, just listen first). I understand that this may seem like quite a radical and even selfish concept to some. I get it.
We are so conditioned to thinking that by helping others, keeping everyone happy and not letting our colleagues / parents / kids / friends down is something that makes us a “good person”. A reliable, trustworthy, decent person!
It may be so, but often it also makes us tired, stressed, bitter and grumpy, and looking forward to the next break, whether it’s the weekend, the next holiday, or even just a full eight hours of sleep.
So is this concept of self care some kind of magic pill that will make all of our stresses disappear? It’s not an instant fix but I happen to think it is one of the most sensible solutions to the chronic exhaustion that seems epidemic in our society.
However, there is often a lot of resistance coming from inside us and around us. Let’s hear the ‘buts’ as promised: “The chores still need to be done, the kids and dogs fed, the deadlines met, the visitors are coming and the house is a mess… I simply don’t have time for myself! And even if I did I’d feel bad about (fill in the blank).”
Does this sound familiar? It does to me.
It is surprisingly hard, especially for us women, to justify the time we take for pleasure, rest and play. It’s as if we have to push ourselves to the brink of exhaustion before we’ve ‘earned’ the me-time.
Yet, here’s the secret: the better we care for ourselves, the easier the rest of our life flows! Amazing, huh.
The times when I have been stressed out with whatever problem or deadline I was facing, hustling harder never seemed to solve it. But taking time off, going for walk or out for a coffee, often did help resolve the situation, or at least calm me down sufficiently so that I was able to deal with it in a relaxed (read: less manic) manner.
Essentially, self care helps us “fill our own vessel first so we can serve from the overflow”, as Eleanor Roosevelt wisely put it.
EVERYDAY SELF CARE
Consciously and regularly scheduling time for self care is the sanest and kindest thing we can do to ourselves…. and to our loved ones too! I know I am much nicer person to be around when I feel my needs are met and my body and mind nourished.
So, what can we do that will give us the sense of peace, joy and balance that we so crave? Here are some of my favourite self care activities that are easy to incorporate into the everyday life:
- Walk in the fresh air, preferably bare foot, even if it’s only 15 minutes on your lunch break. (My new hoods in Newcastle provide lots of sand and salty water to soak the feet in, which is lovely). I prefer to not listen to music when walking in order to take in all the sounds and sights fully, but you might relax better with your favourite soundtrack on.
- Going to a coffee shop with a book or a glossy magazine and sipping my cuppa slowly whilst reading and day dreaming.
- Baths – I make this into a form of art! Essential oils, Epsom salts, candles, music, cup of tea or a glass of wine are the minimum requirements! The days when I haven’t got the time for this kind of extravaganza I take a hot shower with a few drops of peppermint, sweet orange or rose essential oil sprinkled onto the floor tiles for some delicious steam inhalation and an instant mood lift.
- Getting a massage treatment (you knew this was coming, right?) – I truly am the biggest believer in the power of therapeutic, healing touch. Leaving the clinic blissfully zonked out, my muscular tensions have disappeared and the chitchat of my mind been replaced with quiet contentment. All of a sudden it is much easier to see what matters in life and what things are really worth stressing about. (Hint: not many.)