Recently I’ve gotten massively into the idea of self care. I don’t know when this label for basically ‘looking after yourself’ was created, but I love it. I don’t know about other people, but until I knew the phrase existed, I felt it was harder to officially treat yourself or give yourself actual time out when you felt you needed it.
The focus on mental health in our society lately has become more open and accepting. I feel the increased dialogue and commentary from celebrities, high profile individuals and even us ‘ordinary’ people on social media has ensured that more people who struggle with their mental health feel like they can talk and ask for help. I’ve recently suffered with anxiety and panic attacks and now have a more personal awareness and understanding of the nature of mental health problems and how easily they can sneak up on you and scare the complete and total shit out of you.
Since my little visit to Anxiety-ville (I don’t go there often, but when I do, it’s horrible) I have started several routines/traditions/practices that have enabled me to engage in self care and to do so with the knowledge that I really am helping myself to have a healthier mind, spirit and soul – now none of that can be bad, can it? I always had certain hobbies and enjoyable pursuits that helped me to express emotions, escape or self soothe, but some had fallen by the wayside with the mania of every day life, while others I simply didn’t have the time for due to my responsibilities as a Mum – there really literally isn’t enough time in the day and I don’t want to set myself up for disappointment by promising myself that I will take part in a task (such as rejoining a choir, for example) that I know I simply will have to opt out of because I can’t attend rehearsals. Other self-care activities I’m doing are brand new, like the new bullet journal I began during the summer – and I absolutely love it.
But what is self care? For me, its ensuring that I am truly at my best with regard to my general well being – making sure I do whatever I need to do to ensure I feel whole, well and able for the demands of life. And for each and every single one of us, that looks different because it is so personal. I hope that by sharing my self-care practices (some of which are very straightforward and typical) that maybe I can inspire others and remind everyone that it is so SO important to look after yourself. If you want to be the best of yourself, then its vital that you take some time and space for you. If you do so, then when you are truly present for others, you will really be able to be there for them and with them; because you will feel rested, capable, and whole.
So what does self-care look like for me…?
- Taking some time for my bullet journal – especially writing down one positive thought per day. Using pretty pens and watercolours helps, too.
- Attending yoga class every Saturday morning – I am the LEAST sporty/fitness type person, yet I love yoga – it is for everyone and the little nap you’re allowed to have at the end is probably the best part of my week!
- Bubble baths – with a proper music playlist. At the moment I really like Michael Kiwanuka, Walk off the Earth, and the The Greatest Showman soundtrack. My tastes don’t conform – and for God’s sake you don’t have to listen to calming or classical – if you love Black Sabbath (like my husband), whack it on the player and enjoy.
- Watch comedies – belly laughs are the best. My favourites are Parks & Recreation, Arrested Development, Will & Grace and Modern Family.
- Walking in the park with my kids – preferably stopping off first for a skinny chai latte. There’s nothing like a fancy coffee to make you feel like you’re having a treat while watching their happy faces as they run around.
- Planning – separate from the artistic side of keeping my journal, I’m obsessive about writing lists and planning ahead for things like birthdays and family events – it makes me feel more in control and less stressed as the date approaches. Also helps with budget planning so I’m not panicking about that aspect.
- Crochet and cross stitch – there is something so relaxing about it – I don’t know if its the creativity or the colour but its a great escape for me.
- Actually, shopping (or even just browsing) for yarn – when I find a new shop that sells yarn I just like to go and look about, its just so pretty and gorgeous.
- Bookshops too – they hold the same quiet loveliness about them. If I ever have an hour to kill in the city centre, one of my first ports of call is Waterstones and I will happily sit in the chair area and flick through some pretty books.
- Lunch with my Mum. Food, gossip and fun.
- Beauty/pampering – face masks, getting my nails done or going for a facial or a massage (definitely more costly, but a real benefit) and soooo worth it.
- Watching a favourite movie; my personal faves are Gone With The Wind, The Goonies, Back to the Future, Cluedo, Lord of the Rings, and Pretty in Pink. Make no apology about what you like to watch – its your perogative. Some of them really remind me of my childhood so there is a certain escapism there.
- Reading. What an escape. The Outlander Series got me through a tough year, they were a complete indulgence for my imagination.
- Lighting candles – there is something so calming and serene about a candle flame. It transforms my room into a sanctuary.
- I have also recently re-ignited my interest in crystals. I’ve bought a few new ones, as well as a reference book for their uses and benefits. I take some time to read up on ones that will help me with certain problems and I also like buying them for others as gifts.
- Retail therapy – not to get extreme or to transfer my anxieties into too much spending, but even nipping to the chemists and buying a nice nail polish can make you feel better.
- Cleaning. I might be in the minority here, and I know it is physically tiring but it is quite therapeutic to gut out a room and give it a good scrub!
I know I have more self-care strategies and I will add to them as I think of them, but I would love it if anyone reading this wanted to comment below and share some ideas about how they self-care/self preserve – we all need it and it is so important.
Have a lovely day,