Self-care really does come from within. However, not all of us are in the right place to even think about self-care and what it can do for us.
When it comes to self-care, there's so many different things you can do based on how you feel and what serves you right now.
There's often a lot of mis-conception around the idea of self-care and i'm here to tell you that it isn't all candles, bubble baths and pampering.
No. Self-care is all about looking after yourself, your needs as a human and avoiding emotional and physical burnout. Self-care isn't always easy. A lot of us put ourselves last in the pecking order and can lose touch with who we really are and what we need in this moment.
When studying to be a counsellor, I learnt about Maslow's 'hierarchy of needs' - a great theory if you want to learn more about it!
and it works along the lines of a pyramid that starts with our own basic needs as humans and how we can't progress up the pyramid and build our lives until we have have the most basic of our needs met.
This is where the concept of self-care really comes into its own!
So what is it that you need to do in order to practice self-care?
We all have 24 hours in a day but we choose to spend it in different ways. Some of us may concentrate on work issues, whilst others concentrate on family members. However, not many of us spend time truly concentrating on ourselves.
It's important that we take time for ourselves to do what we need to do in order to keep us safe (and when i say safe, i mean psychologically).
THINK ABOUT THIS... In the last 24 hours, how much time did you truly devote to yourself? do what you wanted to do instead of doing things for others?
An act of true self-care comes from within and that begins with nourishing ourselves. Showing your body respect and love by eating the right foods is one of our most basic needs.
Fitting in nicely with the element of time, we need to make the time to eat properly. Organising our time so we map out a routine for our eating.
We cant be ourselves when our bodies aren't hydrated and water truly is your best friend. Whilst the food we eat contains water, also drinking about 2 litres of water a day can help hydrate and feed your body. Like eating, it's important you establish a routine that you can stick to.
Without hydration, we can find ourselves hungry, tired, irritable and unwell. All of this leads to poor decision making.
HOW MUCH DID YOU DRINK IN THE LAST 24 HOURS? TRY THIS INSTEAD... set an alarm on your phone for every our. Every time your alarm sounds, have a glass of water. Give yourself a challenge to drink a certain amount by a certain time in the day. ALWAYS carry a spare bottle of water with you.
Meditation isn't everyones thing but if you'd like to explore the idea of meditation, i'm here to tell you that there's some incredible benefits to both the body and mind. It can ease anxiety, reduce stress and allows you some time out in this 24/7 crazy world. Spend some TIME concentrating on your breathing. Take deep breaths in and then exhale slowly. Notice how you feel before you start and how you feel after. Good eh?!
Mindfulness is a WHOLE over support post but basically mindfulness allows us to be in the moment. Right here and now. Not thinking or worrying about the future, not fretting over what has been. Spend a few minutes to as you are right now. What do you notice? how do you feel?
You can't master self-care until you realise that putting yourself first isn't a selfish thing to do. I speak to so many women who when they look at the pecking order in their family, they are often last. 'oh i have to look after the kids' or 'my hubby's at work all day so i need to do this for him'. NO YOU DON'T and the moment you realise that is the moment you'll set yourself free!
Look at it this way. If you are so busy putting other peoples needs first and looking after others, then what happens when you finally do get burn out? who's going to look after everyone else then?
You need to learn that you are a priority and that you need to look after yourself first in order for you to then look after others. YOU ARE IMPORTANT. YOU MATTER
ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR EMOTIONS
Aren't we great at brushing our emotions to one side? someone asks how are you and our automatic response is yeah fine! wouldn't it be lovely if we truly acknowledged how we feel? 'Actually i'm not fine. I'm feeling XXX' - It would feel much better if we stopped bottling up our emotions and took ownership of them instead.
One way we can invite more self-care into our lives is by 'checking in'. Notice your thoughts and how they affect your emotions. Spend some time writing down how you feel and why you feel that way. It's a great way of purging and stopping that internal cork that makes us eat our emotions.
Alleyne is a qualified weight management counsellor, author and columnist.
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