Over the years I had heard the term Self Care, but it didn’t really mean much to me. I guess I thought it meant expensive pampering sessions at the Day Spa or trips to Bali for yoga retreats. In my mind, Self Care might have been a good idea for some, but not for me
Who has the time and money for that. Right?
I also thought Self Care seemed pretty selfish. I was busy being the best wife and mum I could, so I devoted all my time to my family and put them first. I love my family so it seemed the right thing to do.
I also wanted people to like me so I rarely said no to anyone else either. At one time I was on four different committees. They were all good causes, and activities my kids were involved in, so it was hard to say no. Some days, I would finish work, rush home, cook dinner and grab my notes and rush out the door for a meeting.
Having friends has always been important to me but unfortunately this meant that I put up with some pretty toxic behaviour from people, just to hold on to the friendships. I found that I was involved in relationships where I was giving but not receiving much back.
But that all changed when I realised that I was tired and worn out! My emotional fuel tank had run dry. Running on empty meant, instead of being the best version of me, I was tired and irritable. I was intolerant to those I loved and resentful of my life.
In short, I was not happy.
This is when I discovered I was wrong about Self Care. It doesn’t need to be expensive or time consuming. Self Care is not something I do a couple of times a year. It is something that I need to implement into my daily life. Everyday. It’s doing things that make me feel good, that refuel me so I can do life well. And the great thing is, when I do this I am actually being the best version of myself. Which means I am the best wife, mum, employee and friend.
And it’s more than a bubble bath! Self Care covers ALL areas of your life.
I use the acronym S.T.E.P.S. to remind me that I need to care for my self in all areas of my life.
Socially, Thinking, Emotionally, Physically and Spiritually.
To help you start caring for yourself in ALL areas, here are a few tips:
When you care for yourself socially, your relationships will not cause you pain .
1. Examine your relationships. Make sure you spend time with the family and friends that make you feel good. If someone is toxic or negative, don’t spend as much time with them. if you feel you need to spend time with someone like that, always limit the time with them. For example, catch up for a 20 minute coffee but make sure you have somewhere to go at the end of that time.
2. Learn how to say no. People pleasing is so yesterday. Saying yes to something is always saying no to something else. If something is not good for you, you have a right to say no, even if the other person doesn’t like that answer. You are not responsible for their reaction, they are. And if you aren’t sure what to answer, you can always say “i will get back to you on that”. it gives you time to make a logical decision and not a reactive one. You can read more about setting Boundaries here.
Taking care of your thinking is being healthy psychologically.
1. Our thoughts are very powerful because they drive our emotions which drive our actions. Change your thoughts and you can change your actions. We have so many of them through the day, some are helpful, and some are not, so the first step is being aware of your thoughts. The best way to do this is with a thought log, there is an app called “Thought Diary” that is great.
2. Gratefulness is getting a lot of air time because quite simply, it works. Being grateful actually changes the chemistry of your brain to a more optimistic outlook. Start by recording 3 things you are grateful for everyday. You can record them in a journal or take photos of things and keep them in a “grateful” folder on your phone. You will be amazed how doing this starts to focus your mind on the good things in the world!
When you keep your emotional tank full, you are more resilient and able to cope with life.
1. Laughing produces feel good hormones, so make sure you do it every day! Listen to your favourite comedian, watch a funny sit com or chat to your funny friend. Life can get too serious, so remember, it’s OK to spend time on something light and funny.
2. After you have stopped laughing, try some deep breathing. You can listen to a guided deep breathing exercise there are many apps like this one called Calm Or you can try this simple breathing exercise. Breathe in through your nose like you are smelling the BEST coffee (or hot chocolate) ever, then exhale through your mouth as if you are cooling that drink down. This act of deep breathing triggers a relaxation response and lowers your body stress level almost immediately.
When you care for your body you feel good about life!
1. Our bodies are amazing machines, but we don’t always treat them with the respect they deserve. Daily exercise is great, and the best exercise is walking. It’s the best for a few reasons. First, its gets us outside in the fresh air, second it gets us away from technology and thirdly it actually rids the body of stress hormones that build up in your body. Awesome!
2. Sleep. Many of us are not getting enough sleep, for a variety of reasons. And lack of sleep had a big impact on how we see the world and cope with life. One simple way of improving your sleep is to limit your caffeine intake during the day . Caffeine is a stimulant, which means it wakes us up, and it takes 6 hours for the body to get rid of caffeine, so to sleep better don’t drink coffee after lunch.
Spiritually, is not necessarily religious, rather it’s about having peace about the “big” questions in life.
1.Journalling is a great way to focus your inner thoughts. Buy yourself a beautiful journal and start recording your thoughts about the day before going to bed. Some easy questions you can answer in your journal are : something that surprised me, something that made me smile and something that challenged me.
2. Mindfulness helps reduce stress because it is the practice of being in the present, without judgement. This is harder than it sounds because often we live either in the past or the future and lets face it we are very judgey. There are lots of mindfulness apps, I like “Stop, Breathe, Think” or Headspace.
If you would like some help in starting your own Self care journey, download my FREE 30 Day Self Care Calendar. It has one activity to do everyday and covers all the S.T.E.P.S..