How To Live Self Care For Life: Self-Care Tips for #SelfCareWeek
This week has been #SelfCareWeek across social media. It’s an NHS annual event that raises awareness of what we can do to improve our physical and mental health.
This year’s theme is Live Self Care For Life.
If you follow my Instagram you’ll know self-care’s something I’m currently working hard on to improve my mental health.
So many people, parents in particular, don’t often think to have time for themselves, or understand the importance of it.
I didn’t realise until recently just how important it is, and how much it negatively affects your life if you don’t practise regular self-care.
What is Self-Care?
According to the Self-Care Forum, a charity which aims to educate and encourage people to care for themselves, self-care is:
In basic terms it’s what we do to take care of our bodies, mind and mood. It’s not selfish to take care of ourselves, because we’re just as important as everyone else.
Why is Self-Care Important?
We can’t look after others if we’re running on empty.
Looking after ourselves and finding ways to recharge enables us to be the best parents, friends and colleagues we can be.
Self-care can improve and maintain good physical and mental health.
It can also reduce mental or physical health issues, or even stop these happening in the first place.
Whether it’s a jog along the beach, a gym session or a workout at home, exercise is so important for our minds and bodies.
It can relieve stress, help us feel stronger and it’s a great endorphin boost. Those endorphins can give us happy brain chemicals to elevate our mood and motivate us for the rest of the day.
We can literally feed our bodies self-care! Fruit, vegetables and pulses (nuts/seeds) provide vitamins and minerals that help boost our immune systems. They’re also great for feeding our brains and helping those happy chemicals work.
Taking 30 minutes to just be can do wonders. This could be having a bath with scented candles, foot soak, listening to music or watching TV.
For a special treat, massages and spa days work too!
Staying connected with others, whether it’s on video call, emails, written letter in the current climate are important. When the world’s back to normal, meeting for a coffee, going for long walks and just spending time with others helps a lot.
Learning to be open with someone you trust about your feelings can help. It’s great self-care to vent to a friend, as you’re offloading stress, negativity, worries and fears which helps recharge your mind.
Self Check-Ins & Celebrating Yourself
This one may not feel as nice as a massage or bath, but it’s important. Checking in how we’re feeling means we can keep an eye on what’s going on before it gets too much. It can reduce stress from getting too high or mental health to start deteriorating.
Sitting with our feelings can be painful, but the end result is that we have better self awareness. This ensures our emotions come out in healthier ways.
Journaling and meditation can be good for this. Journaling can take many forms, whether it’s writing whatever comes into your head for five minutes a day, or a gratitude journal.
Gratitude journaling is where you write at least three positive things from your day. This can help to reframe negative thinking into positive which I’m currently attempting.
Get a Hobby
There’s many self-care activities that are fun, calming and constructive. Slow stitching is one I tried recently, and anything artistic or creative is always a winner. You are in the moment doing the activity and focussing on your creation so it’s the ultimate mindfulness activity.
I love crystal therapy, reading fiction, nature walks and sometimes baking something tasty!
Writing, knitting, crosswords and even jigsaw puzzles are also great to try.
Take an Interest in your Physical Health
Have you avoided going to the doctors with symptoms you’re ignoring, or do you keep putting off that eye test?
Making sure we get our health check-ups may not be enjoyable, but it’s taking care of your body. We need a body MOT just like our cars!
Get the calendar out and make those dental/optical/medial appointments now before you put it off again!
Get Good Sleep
Our bodies need eight hours sleep every night ideally.
It’s rare I get this, so I’ve started setting my bed times and it’s helping a lot. My body isn’t used to going to bed earlier, but after a few days it’s adjusting.
Sleep helps our brains recharge.
I tell my son it’s like his online games; They refresh and update on rest mode, and our brains need this too so we can be energised and focussed.
Social media and Email Breaks
This speaks for itself. Social media can be a good distraction, but it also keeps our brains wired.
Having a cut-off point every night avoids the blue light screens keeping our minds awake long after bedtime.
Having a day per week where we don’t use social media can also be great.
I’ve cut down my Instagram posts from twice a day to twice a week and seen a great difference in my wellbeing.
Decluttering Your Space
Again this is not always fun, but boy does it feel good afterwards!
I loved reading Marie Kondo’s book about decluttering, as she teaches the importance of only keeping what brings you joy.
Clothes with tags on two years later clearly don’t bring me joy, or boxes of odds and ends gathering dust.
Cluttered homes can clutter minds, so reducing this can do wonders for our stress levels.
Connect with Nature
This is my favourite and most powerful form of self-care at the moment.
Being in nature has so many benefits to our bodies and minds.
Tree-bathing’s popular in Japan, because they’ve found great benefits to mental health just by walking or sitting amongst trees.
I love visiting forests and spending time looking at the trees, their branches and the leaves swaying in the breeze.
Similarly the beach is calming for me; Hearing the waves crashing, the smell of the salt air and even the pebbles and sand have a soothing quality.
Taking walks can do wonders. It’s time away from busy life, chores and screens. Our minds can focus on being present in the moment.
Having a dog forces me to go out daily, which has helped me get self-care moments on busier days.
How To Fit Self-Care In
Self-care needs to be planned, because life gets in the way so it rarely happens naturally.
We schedule our kids’ hobbies, cooking and appointments, so treat it like another task to plan to ensure it happens.
Stick to basics initially; Find small things to schedule, like a tea break with your feet up, or a dog walk. As you get used to fitting it in, you can add more self-care activities so it’s varied and stays interesting.
It’s important to not feel guilty about fitting time in for yourself. So many of us, particularly mums, feel bad or selfish if we do things for just us.
Self-care may feel lazy or like you’re not achieving anything, but it actually revives us so we can achieve more.
What does Self-Care Look Like to You?
I’ve asked some bloggers what self-care looks like for them and was inspired by what they came up with:
Mind have a list of online self help resources to help with mental wellbeing.
This includes links to free online courses covering low mood and stress, as well as mood trackers and help with anxiety and depression.
A toolkit created by the NHS to help people with persistent health conditions to find ways to maintain good self-care.
It includes tips, supportive activities and a list of resources for various health conditions.
No payment was received for this post. All opinions are honest and my own.