A series of questions and answers to help prioritise your wellbeing.
Self-care has become a popular term in mental health circles over recent years, and with good reason.
In the midst of life’s seemingly relentless demands, it’s easy to become preoccupied with tending to others’ needs and forgetting about your own. It can mean that in the process of working tirelessly to get ‘everything’ done, you skip the basics of sleep, nutrition and activities deemed pleasurable and rewarding, but also replenishing.
Self-care though, is not to be confused with self -indulgence. Self-care is the necessity and personal responsibility of tending to all aspects of yourself. It is not a luxury, but a basic and holistic practice of self-respect.
It describes the ability to tend to your own physical, mental and emotional needs in the face of life’s demands and obligations. Self-care can be as simple as taking regular breaks from work and eating regularly, to more nuanced care like recognising difficult emotions when they arise and learning to soothe them without hurting yourself or others.
In this blog, I will provide a series of basic questions and answers setting out the meaning of self-care, how to practice self-care and why self-care is such an important part of a healthy, respectful relationship with yourself.
To get started, here are some questions you might ask yourself to guage your level of self-care:
Essential Self-Care Questions:
1. Are you getting enough quality sleep that you feel energised and well-rested?
2. Do you feel you have enough energy to get yourself through to the end of the day?
3. Are you eating a balanced and well-rounded diet rich in fresh, unrefined foods?
4. Do you eat regularly or skip meals?
5. Do you exercise regularly, raising your heart rate and working different muscle groups for around 30 minutes each day?
6. Do you have quality relationships that make you feel loved and supported?
7. How do you speak to yourself? Does the voice in your head speak kindly or critically?
8. Do you have a sense of purpose and passion each day?
9. How are you giving yourself what you need, whether it’s a bubble bath, foot massage or a day of R&R?
If you answered ‘yes’ to every question, then you have great self-care practices. If, however, you answered ‘no’ to any one of these questions, it may indicate a gap in your selfcare regimen that’s worthy of your attention. Not taking care of yourself can lead to feelings of low self-worth, feelings that if left unchecked can escalate into depression and anxiety. This negative feedback loop is best broken by beginning to take action in any small way.
Here then are some possible answers as to how you might better care for yourself. If this seems like a lot take in, start by picking one or two of the practices from the checklist that you think will best support you, and work from there.
Essential Self-Care Checklist:
Prioritise getting enough sleep. Setting yourself up for each day is crucial, so stablish a defined bed-time and take part in wind-down activities without screens or devices for at least 90 minutes before bed. Create a calm, clean and comfortable bedroom space that makes you feel relaxed in preparation for sleep.
Eat well and regularly. Plan your meals so you can shop and prepare what you need in order to nourish and energise yourself. Becoming familiar with your local food markets can be a great way to source fresh, good-quality produce that gets you enthusiastic about eating. Don’t deprive yourself, but try to choose good quality fats, rich in omegas 3, 6 and 9. Create time in your day to pause, prepare and eat breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Drink 2 litres of water per day. Good hydration is an easy way to access better energy levels and avoid feeling tired or irritable. Having a portable water-bottle on your desk makes reaching the optimal 2L mark more achievable.
Commit to exercise and movement. Move your body frequently each day (aim for at least 30 minutes), whether it’s a walk on the beach, a yoga class with a friend, cycling with your kids or dancing when no one is watching! If you work sitting down, take a minute to stand up, stretch and move around at least once an hour.
Prioritise the relationships that matter most. Spend time with the friends who make you feel loved, supported and worthy.
Set aside time to cultivate your passion and purpose. If this is new for you, gradually introduce time (even 15 minutes!) into your routine to do meaningful things you are passionate about. This might be playing an instrument, tending to your prospective veggie patch, or growing a business! These activities replenish your energy because they inspire and excite you.
Teach yourself the language of positive self-talk. Like being a beginner in any new language, this can at first feel unnatural. Still, don’t shy away from mantras that openly support positivity and self-worth: “I am lovable”, “I am fallible”, “I am a work in progress”, “My mistakes mean I’m learning” – whatever resonates most with you.
Create time for yourself. No matter how brief, try to schedule regular ‘me-time’, whether it’s lighting a scented candle, making your favourite meal or enjoying a bubble bath, massage, movie etc.
Needless to say, your relationship with yourself is the longest one you have, so it makes sense to put some love into it. And while we so often find ourselves prioritising the care of others over the care we show for ourselves, in fact the two go hand in hand. By actioning your own self-care alongside the care of loved ones, you are building your capacity to be present for yourself and those around you.
Self-care is not selfishness, but it does start with you.
If you need support, make a free 15min appointment here, to discuss your needs.