Not just bubble baths
In my work as a well-being and self care expert, many of my clients are in what I call a ‘family sandwich’, between parents who are growing older, and children or other dependents. They have jobs, careers, family life and their own needs. The time often comes for my clients when they are permanently exhausted and burned out through constantly giving their all – while their own needs often come last. They want solutions to overwhelm and flagging energy, and effective ways to stay healthy and happy and resilient. They want to take care of themselves.
Self care. That means having a nice bubble baths with candles and lovely music, right?
This is a common perception of self care. One dictionary definition of self care is ‘the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress’. In the wake of this most stressful year, I think we all need to be doing much more of this. I know my resilience has been challenged many times, and I expect yours has too. So much has been out of our control, and that can be a big stressor.
Where do you start?
There’s no one size fits all solution when it comes to self care, and the sheer range of self care activities is huge. It may be helpful then to break self care down into 6 categories.
Taking care of your body may be eating more vegetables and whole foods, or having a regular yoga practice, or walking regularly. Finding a physical activity you really enjoy rather than one you make yourself do is probably a good plan.
Learning to check in with your emotional self is really important. Get acquainted with your emotions, triggers and thinking patterns. A mindfulness practice can help you to get to know yourself better, as can journalling. Creative pursuits are also a way of achieving healthy self expression.
Feed your mind by reading, learning about something new, or even learning a language or an instrument. Acquiring new knowledge nourishes you and broadens your mind.
If you’re not a person of faith, you can still practise spiritual self care. Feed your soul, and give yourself peace through meditation. Enjoy and appreciate being in the natural world, embracing the many miracles that surround us
Feed your senses and ground yourself in the present. Using your senses is an excellent way of managing your stress levels. Some people spend a few moments each day walking barefoot on the earth (all year round in some cases!). Indulge your senses with scents, colours, textures and aromas that please you
Connection with others is essential for all beings. We are all interconnected, and it’s important to recognise and celebrate this. No matter how you feel about being with others, you can find your level. The needs of introverts and extroverts will vary, as will those of highly sensitive people. Being with someone you love, sharing a meal or a drink with someone, a chance conversation with a stranger, can fulfil our social needs.
Choose it and commit to it
I suggest you choose something that covers each of those 6 types of self care, to get a balance. Whatever you pick, do it with intention. Plan and schedule your self care as an appointment in your diary, otherwise your chances of getting around to do it may be slim! You don’t have to spend hours each day on your self care, if your time is tight. You’ll find ways to fit it in, a few minutes here and there.