©️ Anna Loake
It seems that so many people struggle to make time for self care and get caught up in living for others and putting others’ needs first, while forgetting their own and losing themselves to some extent as a result of this. Or getting caught up in an exhausting rat race, where it feels like there is never enough time for anything else. Self care is a fundamental part of emotional and physical wellbeing that too often is not prioritised. Without self care we feel depleted, stressed and as if we are running on empty. Often, we wait for our bodies to slow up down or stop us through illness and psychosomatic issues and are surprised that we feel depressed and anxious, despite living in this way. No one is superhuman, no matter how busy and active you are it is so important that you look after and protect your resources.
Try not to put all your energy into pleasing others, this will leave you depleted and having to shut off from others to cope. It’s important to learn when to say ‘no’. One way of doing this is considering ‘who am I doing this for? Is it for me or for someone else?’ That way you are making a conscious choice and not operating on autopilot.
Create a ‘no’ list of things you do not want to do, such as not checking emails at night, saying no when feeling tired or unwell, rather than pushing on to not feel like you are letting down others.
Start to prioritise taking time for yourself on your list. But also separate things that are immediately important from more general tasks, so that you do not feel overwhelmed and dictated by your list and can live beyond daily tasks.
Identify what calms you down when distressed, what relieves stress and what also nourishes you to feel energised and ensure that this is incorporated into your life as much as possible. Reflect upon which friends nourish you and with whom you come away feeling better, and those that bring you down or result in you comparing yourself.
Avoid using perfection as your measure of success. There are so many other ways and this is a definite way to feel low.
Identify what is getting in the way of your practise of self-care and acknowledge how much this is because of you. This is such an essential aspect of your wellbeing and therapy that you have a choice within and responsibility for.
Here are some important aspects of self care, that which may seem very basic, but so many people forget them:
Sleeping at least seven hours
Keeping active – exercise is essential for your physical wellbeing, but also the endorphins are key for emotional wellbeing
Eating healthily and at set meal times
Doing hobbies, passions, things that make you happy and laugh
Incorporating mindfulness into your day or doing mindful activities that allow you to switch off from thoughts and be in the present. Some include gardening, drawing, puzzle or logic books, reading, dancing, knitting, pottery, pilates/yoga
Relax and take time for yourself – have a bath, walk and be around nature, swim, cycle to work – find what works for you and changes how you feel about your day
You only have one body, one mind, one life, so start treating it well and try to accept and have compassion for you.
Self care is often misconstrued as being selfish. Considering your needs is not selfish we might just not be used to it. In fact we need to take care of ourselves, in order to be able to take care of others as well. As a therapist if I don’t keep myself well, I would not be able to be there of others.
You can’t always control the circumstances or difficulties that life throws at you, but you can control your response to it and how well you take care of yourself. When you are too tired, eating unhealthily or generally run-down, you will likely be more reactive to the stress in your life and have less resilience. If you are ensuing self care you will find you have more resilience and can respond from a grounded, calm and considered place.
I hope I have given enough reasons for you to at least start reflecting on how you do and could incorporate self care.
The easiest way I find to start to do this, is to care for yourself like you would care for someone else that is important to you.