I write this outside in the garden. There is sunshine, cloud and wind and noises of birds, insects and distant traffic. It’s hard to stay inside when spring beckons us outdoors with its delights.
What ever your profession – whether you are a psychotherapist, a carer, a teacher; whether you are out of work or still at school - self care is of utmost importance in staying well. Be it burn out, mental health struggles or adverse childhood experiences, good self care can make all the difference.
Being your own friend is where it begins. Making friends with yourself and constantly working at that relationship. Getting to know yourself, finding out your favourite parts, to accepting your shadowy sides. We all have them. We all are challenges to ourselves.
The other side of the coin of self care is self sabotage. We’ve near enough all been there. We can call it self harm, we can call it self destruct, we can call it addictions, or bad relationships. We punish ourselves in patterns we repeat that are hard to get out of, let alone hard to acknowledge and understand. Our egos run away with us and we suffer inside.
Self care can be as simple as being kind to ourselves. But what does being kind to yourself look like? When was the last time you did something for you, that uplifted and relaxed you and gave you a sense of worth and peace?
It can be hard to step out of a culture of working hard until you are so exhausted that there is no time left to give ‘you’ some care. Equally, we harbour attitudes that forget self respectful behaviour, leaving space for low self esteem and fear to creep in.
Having awareness of good self care supports resilience. This is something in which you can support your children and loved ones. Just small acts of self care praised, to self or to others, can support a person’s ability to self regulate, stay clear minded, feel grounded and in control. The knock-on effects of good self-care are only positive: improved self esteem, motivation, creative thinking, happiness, respect for self, respect from and for others.
Suggested things you could try to help you explore what ways might work best for your self care:
Make a list of activities you have enjoyed throughout your life so far. Could you revisit these interests?
Make a list of things you have thought about trying. Perhaps you might like to try one or two of these?
Think about when you last gave yourself some time with yourself, and whether it is something you would like more often. How might it be possible to make that happen?
Think about who appreciates you and who you enjoy being around. How do they affect your well-being?
Take time to think about what you are grateful for. You might do this daily, weekly or every now and then.
Take time to write down what you are grateful for in your life so far and how you have helped yourself so far. This could be as simple as taking care of your teeth on a daily basis.
Having an all-round healthy lifestyle will improve your mental well-being immensely. Good sleep hygiene, regular healthy meals, exercise, contact with family and friends, and hobbies.
Work life balance is key. Try drawing a diagram of your life - how it is and how you would like it to be. What small steps can you take to reach your ideal vision?