I’ve had a very ‘full on’ few months recently, and I’ve made a commitment to myself to up the ante with my self care! As we approach the festive season, I’ve decided to give myself a little challenge to prioritise a few more minutes of self care each week, and just a week in, I’m already feeling the benefits!
Whilst it would be wonderful to be able to jet off to a retreat, spa or luxury holiday when the signs of stress start creeping in – I know that we don’t all have that luxury! So alongside work, chores and raising a family, here are some of my tried and tested ‘ Self care’ tips to help give you a boost.
Some of them may seem tiny, but with all acts of kindness and new habits, the key lies in consistency which is when we start to see a big difference!
Nothing new or sexy about this one, but nonetheless it can make a HUGE difference to our wellbeing. According to BBC Good food Drinking water can help improve both memory and mood! Harvard university studies also add that drinking more H2o can help carry nutrients and oxygen to our cells, normalise blood pressure and stabilise the heartrate! For me, I feel more energised after a glass of water first thing in the morning, and I notice a clear difference in ,y skin when I’m getting my two litres a day.
Yes, of course I’m going to champion the practice of meditation and it rightly deserves a place towards the top of my list! You certainly don’t need to be an expert to feel the benefits, just a couple of minutes of focusing on the breath can have a calming effect on both body and mind. You can start with an interactive app, youtube video or meditation script and build up to a lengthier practice as you build confidence. Check out the incredible science- based study on 7 ways that meditation can actually change the brain at Forbes.com
3. Take a supplement / multivitamin or nourish your body
Self care doesn’t have to be glamorous. I realised just how important my physical health is when I started to take large bookings to run workshops and events, and it dawned on me that it was vital to keep in as good health as possible to uphold my commitments. (Also, you don’t get many sick days when you’re running after two kids right!?) When everyone was struck with sore throats and dreading coughs (Not covid) earlier this autumn, I started taking some immune blend that my friend recommended, and the combination of vitamin C and vitamin D has certainly helped me keep lurgies at bay, and help support my wellbeing as a previous seasonal affective disorder sufferer too!
4. Cleanse yourself
You read a lot about bubble baths for self care these days, and whilst extremely cliche – I certainly rely on at least one indulgent soak each week with candles and a good book to give me a nice break away from the daily grind. However if you’ve only got time for a quick shower, or a speedy wash of the face- don’t underestimate the power of turning this into a mindful act! Start by noticing the aroma’s of the products we are using, and focus on your sense of touch.
You may even want to visualise cleansing away any negativity with the water as it flows down the plughole. Experimenting with products we already have in our bathroom cabinet can be a thrifty yet fun way of taking a few moments of ‘extra care’ during our wash routine. I’ve been known to whack on a face mask whilst bathing my kids- and simply feeling proud of myself for doing something to nourish my skin when I might have been feeling depleted.
5. Take a digital detox
Sometimes one of the biggest stressors in our modern day lives can be our mobile phones. The constant stream of notifications and ‘always on’ culture of the internet can become all consuming if we let it. I can find myself ‘just’ trying to send an email whilst cooking dinner, or pausing playtime with my five year old when a whatsapp message comes through. So today I shoved my phone in a drawer for 2 hours, and allowed myself to be fully present during our after school playdoh marathon!
It amazed me how less frazzled and busy I felt when my husband walked through the door, at a time when I’d usually be at my wits end. Giving myself permission to be ‘less busy’ with work and social media demands was a liberating moment! Another swap I’m keen on is reading a good book instead of scrolling before bed, it really helps me switch off easier after a long day!
6. Plan something nice in the diary to look forward to
Have you ever looked back over a month and realised that other than work / home and family commitments, you didn’t actually venture out anywhere on your own for the pure purpose of pleasure? During the pandemic our usual social activities were taken away, leaving many of us feeling lonely and isolated. Something I had missed was exercising with other people, so as soon as it was safe to do so, I joined a weekly exercise class and more recently have found an incredible yoga, meditation and sound bath group that leaves me feeling almost invincible by the time I walk out! I now book the sessions in monthly, and try and give myself at least one small activity a week that is about ‘me’.
Sometimes it’s just a coffee with a friend after the school run, or a walk with a family member whilst the baby sleeps but whatever it is that I plan in. It doesn’t have to be anything grand or expensive, just a slither of time outside of the usual routine can work wonders!
7. Reassess your boundaries
It’s easy to get into the habit of working late every night, or taking on more and more responsibility without noticing the longer term impact that this has on us. Perhaps you’ve been supporting someone you love through a difficult time, aswell as working on a big project that takes up more headspace than usual. Maybe you’ve joined the PTA and all of the school admin is feeling a little overwhelming or you need to scale back on your Christmas budget? Whatever your circumstances, reassessing our boundaries can be a healthy and impactful way of taking care of our own needs.
It could start with being clearer about your working hours, and setting an ‘out of office’ to better communicate your availability. Muting that whatsapp group chat, or saying no to that extra activity that fills you up with dread. Whilst it’s not always comfortable to say ‘No’ to someone, think of it as short term pain for long term gain!
I’m not advocating that we should ditch all of our important responsibilities but simply to manage the mental and physical load of them to help give some breathing space into our lives.
In today’s society, there is a worrying theme that praises constant ‘hustle’ where we are told to ‘go hard or go home’ and made to feel inferior if we are not firing on all cylinders! As a former perfectionist and a chronic workaholic, I burnt out and got very depressed when I was trying to keep up the facade of ‘having it all together.’ When I realised the value in rest, and gave myself permission not to feel guilty about it, my life truly began!
After many nights of broken sleep, I will now favour 5 minutes on the sofa with a cuppa or a powernap over washing up the baby bottles. I feel more confident in prioritising my workload and being honest with myself about deadlines, allowing an ‘evening off’ if that piece of work isn’t due the next day. Some days , I feel energised and productive and am happy to do the chores and work on my emails, so I try and balance my to-do list over the week with a more realistic view. Are you someone that feels like you always need to be busy? and if so, what small pockets of time could you take to just recharge your own batteries?
9. Try something new
‘But i’m too busy’ I hear you cry! This one may seem slightly contradictory, but there is huge benefit in learning a new skill or hobby! For me, it’s continuing my studies on mindfulness and mental health and devouring self help books. Knowledge is often power. For you, it might even be cooking a new recipe for tea, or walking a different route with your dog. We can become real creatures of habit, and whilst we are talking about adding new healthy habit’s into our week, there are likely some old habits that deplete us, and could be shaken up a bit to help us feel motivated.
10. Practice gratitude
Not an obvious ‘self care’ activity perhaps, but one of my mindfulness practices that truly fills up my cup. I sometimes sit with a journal and write down what I’m thankful for that day, or more recently am practicing the ’10 finger gratitude’ method from the 8 week Frantic world course. The idea is that counting on both hands, you name something that you feel grateful for, until you reach 10 things. I’ve started doing this before I get out of bed in the morning to help transform a grumpy mood, and it’s been a real game changer! Give it a go, I’d love to hear how you get on!
I hope that you enjoyed these idea’s, I’d love to know what works for you! If you’d like to stock up your self care cupboard, why not browse the selection of Mindfulness based wellbeing gifts on my site here