You’ll be hearing a lot about self care from me in 2017. For various reasons I decided not to make specific resolutions, but instead to ensure that 2017 is the year where I start to make a conscious effort to take time for self care.
Self Care – Helping You Help Yourself
What is Self Care?
Self care is pretty self explanatory – caring for oneself, particularly surrounding (but not limited to) mental health. It’s the actions that you yourself put into place, voluntarily, to help your mental, physical and emotional health. The aim of self care is to help you feel relaxed, healthy, and feel ready for your responsibilities and work.
Why I Am Striving to Spend Time on Self Care in 2017
2016 was a bad year for my mental health. I spent time off work for stress, I had family problems, we lost my partner’s Mum, and my anxiety went pretty much into overdrive. I struggled to sleep unmedicated most nights.
I also quite severely broke two of my toes, meaning that I was unable to go to my regular zumba and pilates classes for 3 months.
With my health conditions, having bad mental health can have a negative effect on my physical health. At times, it can trigger a ‘flare’ up of two of my issues (although they may or may not happen on their own, or together), which is something I really do not enjoy as I end up tired, in pain and having to take time away from working.
What Does Self Care Involve?
First of all, you need to identify what your needs are, and what you think you can do to fulfil these needs. Then you can start to undertake the steps towards fulfilling the needs you identified.
Self Care Ideas
Here are a few ideas of things you might want to try in your self care plan:
- Put on one of your favourite songs and have a good dance or sing (or both!).
- Take 5 minutes to stretch out at work. Go to the toilet to do this if you do not want to do this in front of people if you work with others.
- Help someone. It’s surprising how much of a boost helping someone else can be, even if it’s bringing the post in, or making a cup of tea.
- Buy a small luxury. This doesn’t have to be much. Maybe you’ve had your eye on a new chocolate bar that you’ve spotted – why not treat yourself to it?
- Have a ‘spa’ session. Run a bath. Add a bath bomb/bubble bath and Epsom salts, stick a face mask on and listen to a podcast/some relaxing music/stick on a YouTube video or TV show if you’re able to.
- Sit outside and listen to birds sing and chatter amongst themselves.
- Write in your planner or journal, or set it up for the week ahead.
- Read a book recommended by a friend or family member. If they have the book themselves, they may be able to share it with you.
- Take a dog for a walk. I’m lucky to have my own dog, and I love to take him for walks when I’m able to. If you don’t have a dog of your own, then maybe you can take a friend or family member’s dog for a walk? Or you could sign up for a dog walking/dog care service, or enquire at your local dog shelter.
- Go out for a meal. Whether it’s to your favourite restaurant, or trying something new, it’s always nice to have a meal where you don’t have to cook or clean up afterwards!
- Make a cup of tea and savour it.
- Exercise. This can be very helpful, but can depend on what you can do physically. If you’re unsure on what you may be able to do, or feel you have financial issues with regards to doing exercise that you can do, then do make sure to speak to your primary care professionals.
Do you already spend time on self care? Or are you planning to do this in the future? Let me know in the comments below!
Please remember that I am not a qualified health professional and there a number of reasons why you may struggle with self care practices. If you do struggle, please remember that this is not a ‘failure’ and should not be seen as one. It’s just a bump in the road, and you may have to speak to your healthcare team (such as your GP, counsellor, key worker, carers and such) to see if there’s anything that they recommend that you can do.