What is self-care?

Marg Brassington stopping to smell the roses

Self-care involves practices, routines and rituals which we undertake to care for and maintain all aspects of our own individual wellbeing.

Self-care practices can look different for everyone. Our self-care needs may differ from those of others. This most important thing is to ensure these needs (whatever they may be) are met. That is key to leading a happy, healthy and balanced life and honouring our own unique worth.

Practicing good self-care is likely to lead to managing stress more effectively, being more productive in all areas of life, maintaining strong relationships, having a healthy self-image and creating a good work-life balance.

We live in such a stressful time and it is more important than ever to maintain your own wellbeing. ‘Wellness’ shines from the inside out. It not only helps us to navigate life’s difficulties, but also to become a beacon of light for others who are struggling.

Are you practicing good self-care?

How do you know?

You will not simply be ‘surviving’ or just getting by – you will actually be ‘thriving’, enjoying life, finding personal success in many areas, continually growing as an individual and attracting positive people, events and things into your life.

Good self-care is essential to maintaining overall health – not just physical health, but also your mental and emotional health and wellbeing. It is also more likely to assist you in maintaining social connectivity and/or feeling connected to community.

You can also think of self-care as taking care of yourself so that you can better take care of others.

I would love to share with you some tips for maintaining good self-care in all aspects of your life.

Mental Self-care

It is important to keep tending to your mind. The mind is like a garden and it requires regular ‘upkeep’ in order to keep growing.

This can be done by practicing mindfulness or meditation and being ‘present’, without dwelling on the past or worrying about the future – simply enjoying the moment for what it is and accepting what you can and cannot control.

Seeking continuous learning opportunities creates growth. This can be done through formal education, expanding your knowledge by reading or speaking with others and learning from their experiences or perspectives which may differ from your own.

Sometimes we can get caught up in what we already know and forget the areas where we need to grow.

Set aside time for learning. Schedule regular time to engage in online classes, TED Talks, podcasts, documentaries, news/topical articles, study revision and/or work.

Take regular breaks during work or study to avoid burnout. Have a regular ‘digital detox’ (even for a short period) to disconnect, go ‘off the grid; and give your mind a chance to de-clutter and process what it has learned. This means doing things that are not related to work, study or social media. You might choose activities that are relaxing (e.g. meditation) or that stimulate your creativity (e.g. painting) to activate other areas of your brain.

Emotional Self-care

Just as it is important to create a direct line of access to your intellectual brain, it is equally important to stay in touch with your emotions.

Even when an emotion is unpleasant or uncomfortable (e.g. sorrow, anger or jealousy), it needs and deserves to be felt. Acknowledge each of your feelings as they arise, allow them to pass in their own time (without trying to supress them) and know that everything you feel is always valid. Remind yourself “this too shall pass”.

It can be helpful to keep a journal of your emotions or share them with someone you trust (e.g. a good friend or therapist). If you experience emotions that are particularly overwhelming (especially if they stem from a traumatic person/event), it can be helpful to write down how you’re feeling, release this to the universe to take charge of and then burn that piece of paper. This can be extremely therapeutic in terms of ‘letting go’ of prolonged pain, anger, regret, guilt or shame.

Practice gratitude. Similarly, keeping a gratitude journal, listing at least three things you are thankful for every day, can serve as a good reminder of the positives in your life, help you keep things in perspective and provide you with something joyful to look back on during days when you are really struggling.

Physical Self-care

Our minds, bodies and emotions are interconnected. When one is unwell, this can affect other areas of our wellbeing.

When we are feeling emotionally ‘stuck’ or mentally ‘overwhelmed’, it can be difficult to know where to start, in terms of self-care.

If you are finding it difficult to calm your mind or emotions, sometimes it’s helpful to just go back to the basics – simple habits, practices or routines to care for your physical wellbeing.

It is vital to maintain good sleep hygiene (e.g. going to bed earlier, not drinking alcohol/caffeine before bed, etc.). When you don’t get enough sleep, this can greatly affect your mood, performance and ability to cope. If you are still finding it difficult to get to or stay asleep, it might be a good idea to consult your GP.

It sounds simplistic, but sometimes we all need a reminder! Make sure you’re staying hydrated (with water – not sugary or alcoholic beverages) and eating well. This means not starving yourself and not comfort eating. It is also important to avoid overly processed foods that are high in sugar and artificial colours/flavours with little nutritional benefit. Maintain a well-balanced diet that is rich in vitamins and nutrients. If you need help with this, it might be worth seeing a Dietician.

Exercise regularly. Set aside at least 20 minutes per day to get your body moving. Removing yourself from your physical space (e.g. going for a walk or jog) is the fastest way to move yourself away from your emotional space. Exercise also helps release your body’s ‘happy hormones’ (dopamine and serotonin).

Social Self-care

Everyone has different social needs. You don’t have to be a ‘social butterfly’ or ‘the life of the party’, but staying connected with family and friends (no matter how few) on some level is important for your wellbeing.

Maintaining connections with other people can help you feel useful, loved, liked, safe, heard and curb loneliness.

Try reaching out to someone every day. This could be a simple call or text message to a family member or friend just to say ‘hi’ and check in. Or it could mean joining a local club, community, sporting, hobby, parenting, volunteer or networking group.

Where To Find Help

Professional help is available 24 hours a day through Lifeline and Beyond Blue if you need to talk to someone at any time.

If you are struggling, please seek support – whether it is from a GP, good friend or mental health professional.

I also offer a range of modalities including Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), Hypnosis, Time Line Therapy®, Access Bars® and Life Coaching and can work together with your support team to maintain continuity of support.

For more information please visit www.purposefullife.com.au. To make an appointment, please phone on 0481 877 860 or email at hello@purposefullife.com.au.

Keep safe and always take care.