Self-care is definitely one of the watchwords for 2020, but what does it actually mean? Is it all about relaxing baths and me-time, or does it go a little deeper than that?
Self-care in the true sense is about taking deliberate action to improve physical, mental and emotional health.
Taking good care of ourselves holistically will reduce our trips to the GP surgery and ultimately reduce the strain on the NHS. Research shows that the average person experiences three common ailments four times, every two weeks. These ailments are headaches, joint pain and feeling rundown.
So let’s take a look at what we can do to help ourselves and look after our bodies and minds to the best of our ability.
The first thing is to know and understand yourself. Being self aware is a gift. It enables you to preempt any health problems that might arise. If you are aware of how much sleep you need, how many glasses of water you need to stay hydrated or if you’re beginning to feel stress in your shoulders, you can address the problem before it takes hold. So perhaps self-care would involve an early night, less coffee and more water, a massage or a long soak in the bath.
Knowing your limits is another factor to be aware of. It might be how much alcohol you drink, or how many empty calories you consume before they take a toll on your body. Eating properly is a hugely important part of self care. Know the signs of hunger before you feel ratty and get a headache keep a healthy snack to hand. We’ve all felt the need for a green salad after an overindulged couple of days. That’s the body positivity shouting at you to address the way it feels. Learn to hear the little voices and act quickly.
De-stressing is one of the best gifts we can give ourselves. Even when everything is piling up on top of us, the best thing to do is take a break. Fight the urge to carry on, and take ten minutes to remove yourself from the situation and stretch your body. Taking deep slow breaths will calm you and allow you to refresh. Your blood pressure will lower, your shoulders relax and tension headaches clear up. Do this whenever you feel like it’s all getting too much. At work, at home, wherever, just take a few minutes to ground yourself and refocus.
These are the real basics, the fundamental essentials of self-care. With these in place, we can look at the extras that enable us to live our best lives. Finding pleasure comes next. This will be different for everyone, some will find solace in meditation, journaling or prayer. For others is will be nature, walking in the countryside admiring the natural beauty that surrounds us. For home birds it might be craft or baking or doing a puzzle. It doesn’t matter what it is, so long as it’s your thing. You want to reap the benefits of this me time, to feel the stress drain from your body, your mind empty of the washing machine of thoughts, and to just be.
There are always more ways to add self-care. When you’ve done something, large or small, that has made you feel at peace, whether that’s painting your nails or joining a choir, do more of it. The benefits to your wellbeing are huge and they ripple out to your physical, mental and emotional health, making you a better person all round.
Have a great day.