Rachel Letham, Associate Trainer at We Are Wellbeing, explains why self care needs to include a lifestyle change in order to be done properly and effectively.
Just like a dog is for life, not just for Christmas – self care is for every day not just a one time thing to tick off your to do list. 24th July may well be International Self Care Day but self care needs to be for life, not just for one day. The date itself is significant 24.07 – symbolising that the benefits of self care should be experienced 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The benefits of self care are felt envy day so long as you build a self care routine People are confused about what “Self Care” actually means these days. Is it taking time for a bubble bath, a spa day or making sure you get your step count in each day? Maybe. But self care can be and is more than that.
Self care is any activity that we do with intention in order to take care of our mental, physical and emotional health. It doesn’t have to mean a spa day or meditation for an hour each day. It’s not about how much money you spend, how much time you take to do activities. It can be small adjustments to your routines to make sure you are living well and feeling great.
My favourite analogy when it comes to self care is the oxygen mask from the inflight safety demonstration… “please put on your own oxygen mask before helping others”. Why? Because if you’ve passed out, you are of no use to anyone else – so make sure you create your own toolkit of self care strategies so that you can be of service to yourself and to others
Self care is about making sure that the best version of yourself, is out there to achieve what you want to in life and to help others live their best life too. Ultimately, self care isn’t something you do once and tick off the list; it’s the constant repetition of many tiny habits, which together soothe you and make sure you’re at your optimum—emotionally, physically, and mentally.
Overwhelm yourself with self care
As a self care coach, I hear a lot about how the “Self Care Revolution” is overdone. There is so much going on, mainly through social media, with suggested tips and thoughts on what we ‘should’ be doing, that people aren’t doing anything because it feels like yet another thing to tick off the to-do list.
We often spend so little time thinking about what really nourishes us, instead of doing the things that we think should nourish us, that we often get completely out of touch with what makes us happy, calm and centred in the first place.
Why not make a list, even if it’s on the back of that envelope on your kitchen table, about all the things that bring you joy, that really nourish you and that maybe you haven’t done for a while. Now, how can you bring more of them into your life?
Ultimately it’s all about you doing you. You want to choose habits to build that will be sustainable for you. Things that interest you and light you up and most importantly relax you, bring you into the present moment and nourish your body and mind.
Make life work for you
We can build resilience and nurture our self care routine by making sure that our “non-negotiables” are in our everyday life.
Start thinking about the things that you need to have in your life – your “non-negotiables”. What are the things you need in order to make sure that you’re living the best life that you can? Think about what you need to do in your day-to-day life to feel good, to make yourself happy, smiling, feeling like life is working.
Often we realise too late that we’ve missed them when we feel tired, run down, poorly nourished, irritable and realise life isn’t working for us. Then it’s time to reassess your primary physiological needs. Food, shelter, water, sleep, warmth, oxygen. Are you taking time to eat well, drink enough water, get enough sleep, breathe deeply? Often we get to the end of the week and realise we haven’t been making sure these needs are met, and that is where the non-negotiables become clear.
Maybe like me, you need to drink at least 2 litres of water a day, take multivitamins and get some exercise in at least twice a week. Maybe you need to drink a green smoothie every day, write in a journal and catch up with a friend on the phone. It’s different for everyone, these are your non-negotiables. Get clear on them, work out how you can bring them into your life more and track them, it’s one of the best way to build a habit by checking in on your progress.
Make a change and put yourself first
You know that feeling when you get to the end of the week, a friend asks how your week has been and to be honest… you just can’t remember?!
So often we let life pass us by in a blur. We get stuck in a routine, we have so much focus on in our business or career, trying to get work/life balance and dealing with what everyone around us is doing; that we forget to be present in our own life and this can have long term effects on your own wellbeing.
We make sure that everyone else is nourished, satisfied, content and okay before we think about ourselves. We make sure the fridge is full, the car has petrol in it and that our mobile phone charges overnight. Yet we forget to put ourselves first or even second, third or fourth. Now is the moment to rethink this pattern in our lives.
“We are human beings not human doings”, said the Dalai Lama. We have to take a few moments, half an hour, or even a day if you can, to be, not to do anything.
Think about those simple things that you need to help you get through a day; better still make a list. Now is the time to write a self care prescription for your life; what do you need to get through each day, and make sure that you create a self care routine and build wellbeing habits that help you achieve this for yourself.