I had no idea about the concept of self care until I started my training as a therapist.
You may be shouting “I’m too busy to focus on self care”. But regardless of your career it is important to make time to look after yourself physically, mentally and emotionally.
Self care enables us to recharge our batteries, have time for reflection, time for joy or simply time for self.
Self care really can be whatever you need it to be but you need to listen to your body to really understand what it is. For me it is an awareness. That feeling of a boundary being crossed not necessarily by a person but by time, tiredness, duty, hunger, patience.
With clients I often talk about what they NEED in their “wellbeing toolbox”.
- eating well
- going for a long walk in the countryside
- meeting up with friends
- getting an early night
- soaking in a bath
- doing something creative
- eating comfort food
- going to the gym
- listening to music
- pyjama day
- journal writing
- watching rubbish tv
But it is these things along side other things that may not be in our awareness. Here are some more ways to exercise self care that are not always as obvious.
1.Being aware of what we give out
Often we spend too much time over focusing on helping others. If we are ALWAYS helping others we will often be drained, empty, and depleted. It is good to be caring but how can you care in a way that you can look after yourself?
Sometimes this may mean setting healthy boundaries. What might this look like for you?
If you are constantly lighting other peoples candles then your candle will go out.
2. Value the person that you are
Often we need to give ourselves the same compassion that we give other people. Many of us have an inner critical voice and forget to look at how we talk to ourselves. Our negative self-talk can really hold us back. Noticing how we talk to ourselves and reflecting on our own good qualities will help us to get rid of our inner critic.
Would we talk to a friend in the way we talk to ourself?
3. Saying no
It is not selfish, rude or aggressive to say no. Learning to say no without the guilt can be empowering. Knowing when to say no is not easy as many of us are people pleasers. You may worry that you are letting people down, upsetting them or making them feel rejected and your inner critic is cursing you for it.
The key to refusing requests is to be able to accept that other people have the right to ask you and you have the right to refuse.
4. Saying yes
Are you a “I don’t need any help”sort of person”? We all know people who are difficult to lend a hand to. These “I’m ok” people have created an identity in which it is valid to give, but not to receive. Knowing when you need an extra hand and accepting help can be part of self care.
But many of us feel uncomfortable receiving and asking for help. Often we work hard not to need help as we see it is a weakness.
True meaningful relationships between humans can’t be had unless giving and receiving are done on both ends.
5. Getting rid of toxic people
We all know how important it is to give our bodies a break from “toxic” food and alcohol but what about giving ourselves a break from toxic people? This can be letting go of a bad friend. Unhealthy relationships can start early and last a lifetime. Interacting with people who constantly cut you down or manipulate you can take a toll on your own mental health. One of my favourite analogies is drains and radiators.
6. Alone time
While socialising and keeping busy may work for some people, some of us may benefit from some much needed alone time. It’s often the only time you can really hear your own thoughts and reflect on your feelings.
Learning to be alone can help us to grow as human beings as we can learn to listen to our inner voice and use it as a guide.
Self care is about valuing the person that you are, not just on the outside but the inside too.