What Is Self Care & Why Is It Important?

What Is Self Care?
Self care, as the name suggests, is care provided by you, for you.

It is about taking the time to understand your own needs and taking the right steps to meet those needs, without the need to feel guilty or that you are not worth the money! Unfortunately, this is true for many of us, but honestly, you are better able to help others once you have taken good care of yourself.  
Why Is Self Care Important?

We can often find ourselves taking care of others without a second thought for how we are treating ourselves. If we neglect our own needs and keep giving our energy to help others, we wear ourselves out. This can get to a point where we have no energy left and we can make ourselves physically ill.

We do not want to get to this point, because it means we are no use to others any more. Many people want to please others and often help them to the extent that they forget their own needs. This may seem achievable at first but in the end this is counter-productive as we become so tired that we need an even longer period for rest and recovery.

My Own Discovery Of The Importance Of Self Care

I have recently discovered how important self care is – I have been on holiday to a retreat in India for 10 days this month. The purpose of my trip was to relax my mind and body. 

Many years ago, I worked as a Primary School teacher and the job was stressful – I wanted to do the best job I could and as a perfectionist, I put in extra hours to achieve this and I ended up burning out. I was diagnosed with ME and spent a whole year bed bound. I had not taken proper care of myself, and spent most of my energy on others – my class, my husband, my daughter, my extended family, forgetting my own needs.

This was a turning point for me and I realised I had to take better care of myself. It is easier said than done and every time I have been on holiday since then, I would always end up taking work with me. My daughter would tell me not to but I would take at least some reading to do. I felt guilty if I didn’t, which also meant that I didn’t switch off. 

Even just now when I went to India, with the intention to relax, I took my laptop and ‘To Do List’ and planned to do some of my admin. However, we ended up having a busy schedule of daily yoga and meditation, massages and various treatments, in between the specially prepared diet and detox, that I did not have time to do any work in the end. This was a blessing in disguise, as I actually really relaxed and it was exactly what my body needed. It made me sleep well during the afternoon when the weather was about 40 degrees outside, whilst I slept in my air conditioned room – and at night after completing my 10,000 steps after dinner! Before, I couldn’t even manage 100 steps!  

Sometimes, it is necessary to take time out for yourself – whether it is 10 days of holiday or just 10 minutes during your busy day.
How Can You Care Better For Yourself?

Take 5 minutes now to really think about what you love to do to relax and make a note of all the ideas that come to you, over the course of a week. This can serve as a go-to list for you to choose an activity for self care – remember your list might look very different.  This is an exercise I tell my clients to do, and will have to re-visit often.  

If you can do at least one of these per day, it will really help you to be kind to yourself and look after yourself. These activities can take as little or as much time as you like to fit into your day, and many activities are also free so there is no need to worry about costs.

Here are a few ideas:
  • Go for a walk in nature – notice the colours, sounds and smells
  • Take a hot bath
  • Give yourself a foot rub
  • Go for a massage
  • Do some breathing exercises
  • Go for a run
  • Go to a dance class
  • Do some yoga or stretching
  • Read a book
  • Take a nap
  • Prepare a healthy and nutritious breakfast or snack
  • Buy yourself a gift – a bunch of flowers, candle, bath soap
  • Listen to your favourite music
  • Call a good friend for a catch up
  • Colouring
  • Paint your nails
  • Make yourself a healthy smoothie or juice
  • Meditate
Fit Self Care Into Your Day

Each day is different and you may not have a set routine, but after making your list of self care activities, find at least 10 minutes in each day to do one of these activities.

Some activities can be done alone but some can be done with a friend if you prefer, like trying a new class together.

Try this for at least a week and notice if you feel different in any way. I would love to hear from you – what are your favourite self care activities and how do you fit them into your day?

Please post any questions or suggestions for other topics that you would like me to cover here.

Thank you

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