There has been a recurring subject coming up recently in my clinic. One about self-care. Whether you want to have more energy, be more relaxed or less anxious, the first step is often to start looking after yourself better.
Let’s be honest, we’ve all done it. Whether you are working long hours as a nurse, a teacher or a business person or simply because you’ve wanted to do it all yourselves, work, family and friends, we’ve all fallen into that trap at some point. And the result is always the same. Running on empty, feeling exhausted, being grumpy and irritable.
The first step? Making self-care a priority. And that starts by putting yourself first.
I am sure you have come across the expression ‘You can’t pour from an empty glass’. This describes very well the fact you can’t give if your own glass is empty. To be able to give to others, work well, support your team or your children, you need to have something to give, some energy left in the glass. That’s why taking time to refill your glass up is so essential and selfishly selfless. That’s why it should be part of everyone’s life.
Self-care is a routine in your day, week and year when you take the time to nourish yourself, replenish your energy levels and relax.
1- Take 15 minutes a day to pause
Spend 15 minutes doing an activity that makes you feel good. Maybe it’s something that makes you laugh, something that helps you relax or something that makes you feel great about yourself.
A list of things you could do
- Go for a walk or do some exercise
- Write in a journal
- Watch a funny video
- Read an inspirational book
- Listen to some music you love, one that makes you want to stand up and dance (and do it!)
- Sing (you can sing in the shower so no one can hear you if you feel too self-conscious)
- Have a bath with Epson Salt and Lavender
- Have a look at this post for more ideas.
2- Have a pause in your week
This is about having a break in the week, maybe a couple of hours to spend doing something on your own (No children allowed!)
- Try something new that you have always been wondering about
- Go for a massage (or an acupuncture treatment!)
- Take an hour to read a book in a café without being disturbed
- Go for a long walk in the countryside or even in a park near home
- Do some gardening
- If you are feeling artistic, do some art (painting, music etc…)
- Do some meditation or go to a meditation class …
3- Have a break in the year.
I personally know that I need some regular break during the year. So, I take a break every 4 months or so as I know that keeps me well. Longer than that and I am feeling much more tired (and then I start dropping balls too!). See what is working well for you. How long can you work without a holiday and still be well? What do you tend to do? Book your holidays as it comes or are you more purposeful?
Things that can make a difference when you take a longer break:
- If you have the possibility, try and go away. Being somewhere different helps the energy move in the body and is therefore much more relaxing than staying a home
- Have a break for a day (or more) from all electronics. No emails (of any type!), no social media. Switch your phone or tablet off for the day and enjoy your time without being disturbed by constant notifications.
- If possible, have a two consecutive weeks break once in the year. The first week, we seem to switch off from our daily life and it’s in the second week that we start to really recover from tiredness.
4- Put it in your diary.
The only way you can do all that is to be purposeful about it. You need to make it and treat it as something important, even essential, in your life.
- Plan the year ahead and put your holidays down at work and in your calendar.
- Write down your break in the week in your calendar. Treat it with the same importance than if it was a meeting at work or an appointment with your GP (Because it is as important!) and don’t let other people encroach into that time.
- Make your daily 15 minutes of pause part of your normal daily routine. Maybe it will be part of your lunch break or something you will do once the kitchen is tidy at the end of the day. Making it part of your routine just like brushing your teeth is the best way to be sure it will happen every day.
Over to you:
Do you have a daily routine to relax at the end of the day or nourish yourself? Or is part of the long list of things you ‘ought’ to do or were doing until life just took over?