Self-care - you are worth looking after
Self-care means looking after your physical, mental and emotional health, it can be a challenge and is unique for everyone. I often ask clients are they sleeping or eating okay or ask a client if they ever feel guilty when they charge their mobile phone. Good self-care tops up our ‘internal batteries’, there should be no guilt involved.
If you’re ‘charged up’ you’ll cope better with challenges, some points to consider regarding self-care are:-
Food - Get adequate nutrition, you’ll feel stronger and may help you feel better. Cutting down on alcohol and/or drugs will make your mind clearer and better able to focus.
Exercise – Find a form of exercise you like and be kind to your body, regular exercise can lift your spirits and make it easier for you to sleep better. Regular exercise can lift your mood, increase your energy levels, improve your appetite and sleep. Physical activity stimulates chemicals in the brain called endorphins, which can help you to feel better.
Sleep - Everyone has different needs, a reasonable guideline is that most people need between 7-10 hours of sleep per night.
Medical care - Getting medical attention when you need it is an important form of physical self-care.
Keeping a journal - Some people find recording their thoughts/feelings in a journal or diary helps them manage their emotions after a stressful situation or low mood. Alternatively, creating artworks based on your feelings can be very powerful.
Meditation or relaxation exercises - Relaxation techniques or meditation help many people with their emotional self-care. Here is one to try - sit or stand comfortably, with your feet flat on the floor and your back straight. Place one hand over your belly button. Breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose and let your stomach expand as you inhale. Hold your breath for a few seconds, and then exhale slowly through your mouth, sighing as you breathe out. Concentrate on relaxing your stomach muscles as you breathe in. You should be able to feel your stomach rise and fall about an inch as you breathe in and out. Try to keep the rest of your body relaxed especially your shoulders. Slowly count to four as you inhale and to four again as you exhale. At the end of the exhalation, take another deep breath. After three to four cycles of breathing you should begin to feel the calming effects.
The people around you - it’s important to make sure that the people in your life are supportive. Nurture relationships with people that make you feel good about yourself. Cut back on the time you spend with people who don’t make you feel good, or spend time with them in a group rather than one-on-one. You deserve to have people around you who genuinely care about you and who support you.
Fun - Find time for activities that you enjoy is an important aspect of self-care. Be aware of spending too much time on the internet, watching TV, even sleeping great in moderation in moderation but can become a way of retreating and isolating yourself.
Get involved in a sport or hobby that you love! Find other people who are doing the same thing, knowing that people are counting on you to show up can help motivate you.
Date nights - Make a date night with a partner, a friend or a group of friends. It can also be a great relief to meet and share experiences with other people who face similar stressors as you.
Make self-care/distraction box - Fill a box with memories and items that can provide comfort and help lift your mood when you feel down. The box can contain anything that is meaningful and helpful to you, e.g. a CD you like listening to, a book, photos, letters, poems, notes to yourself, a cuddly toy, a perfume, jokes etc.
Start to realise you are worth looking after, get planning and set yourself some realistic goals. Self-care is vital, it charges our batteries and enables us all to cope better and celebrate every goal you achieve.