We have all heard the words ‘self-care’ but how many of us actually practice it? It is understandable, especially in the uncertain and unprecedented times we are currently going through, time simply runs away and often self-care is at the bottom of the list so becomes the one item you never get around to doing. So often we prioritise others over ourselves, so we fall to the wayside and it can lead to feeling like your tank is empty.
Guilt is also another factor, so many of us would feel ‘guilty’ taking a long soaking bath when there are always things to do, or going to a yoga class when you could be spending that time running errands. Our time is so precious it is so easy to sacrifice ourselves in order to help or provide for others. However, we would tell our friends and loved ones to look after themselves and advise them to make time in the day for themselves, so why do we not do the same for ourselves?
Not only is self-care about being kind to yourself, but about creating healthy boundaries in your life. Letting it all run away with you and not taking a bit of time for yourself can not only lead to physical symptoms such as low energy, difficulties sleeping, less patience, difficulty concentrating, head and stomach aches but also mental problems such as anxiety or depression. When it gets to this stage, you are not at your best and it can lead to snapping at family members, low moods and decreased performance at work which can make you feel even worse.
There is a reason why we are told to attach our own oxygen mask before helping others in the emergency briefing on an plane, you are no help to others if you have nothing left in yourself. Practicing a small bit of self-care everyday will not solve all of your problems but can help give you the energy and patience back to attack things head on – plus, it feels great!
Unfortunately, it is unrealistic to expect to be able to take an hour out of your day for a massage or cook a gourmet meal for yourself, but even the smallest things can make a difference. Why not try listening and dancing around to upbeat music when you get up in the morning or spend a few more minutes in the shower letting the warm water relax you. If you have never tried meditation there are hundreds available online that last from 5 minutes to an hour, or make yourself read at least one chapter of a book you enjoy before you go to sleep or listen to one episode of a podcast. Even a good cup of tea or spending a couple of minutes taking deep, relaxing breaths can make a world of difference.
Self-care is not is not selfish, it is simply about looking after yourself, so you are the best version of you to help and care for others. After all, we are only human and as much as we cater to others’ needs and wants, we have our own which must be protected and fulfilled as well and the first step to that is taking care of ourselves, even for 5 minutes every day.