A Guide To: Simple Self-Care
Spa breaks. New shoes. Exotic holidays.
These images of grandeur are what many of us conjure when we hear the words self-care. But this definition, which was likely always skewed, has, like the world around us lately, shifted.
Maybe the sudden pandemic and it’s enforced lockdown put things into perspective, or maybe the sheer impossibility of favourite self-care practices (nail salons closed, yoga classes shut) prompted a much-needed mind shift.
Either way, these days self-care is more about what you can do at home rather than out of it.
Isn’t self-care just healthy living?
Ask those in the psychology know, and you’ll see self-care is defined as small, manageable practices that support and enhance your overall well-being.
If you have the capacity to schedule in a regular spa-break, or can’t wait to pull on your dance tights and plié to your hearts’ delight, go right ahead, but don’t feel discouraged if time, commitments or restrictions pulls you away. We battle a near-constant onslaught of overwhelm, fatigue and scheduling issues daily, and it’s here you can lean on a simplistic self-care strategy to help ease you through gently – and without losing it.
When do I know that its time for self-care?
Begin by asking how difficult life feels for you right now. If you baulk at the idea of another day staring at your computer screen, if tasks that felt simple now seem hard, or if every little thing a partner does has you tearing out your hair, then the time is ripe to try some fast and simple self-care ideas. Self-care offers you a tangible way to balance things out. It renews a flagging spirit and even reduces anxiety. Think of it as self restoration. If you don’t fill your cup, no one else will.
This all seems overwhelming when life is already difficult… ?
Thats the thing. Self-care should be enjoyable. Often its that one little thing you long to do but keep putting off, like sending everyone you live with outside, while you take a nap or dance around the living room. Sometimes it feels indulgent, like taking a morning off to sleep in. Maybe its finally calling the best friend you love. It could be making time for regular morning meditation, curling up with a good book, or even drinking a cup of green tea in absolute silence. Surprisingly, its often the little changes that have the biggest impact, says magnus fridh, in his book, the art of stillness in a noisy world.
Im sold on some simple self-care! How do I start?
It can be helpful to think about self-care strategies falling into three buckets, with actions or activities that nourish your mind, body or soul. These can be related to your personal or professional life. Call on your intuition to guide you (these oracle cards can be helpful for this), or think about where you feel most lacking in resources and seek activities that leave you re-centred, rested and hopeful.
What is one thing I can easily focus on?
The best place to start is with sleep prioritise getting the number of hours you need to run on optimum. Set an alarm not only to wake up but to go to sleep too, and honour it.
Lets start with my mind. How do I manage my mindset?
Regular mindful acts and meditations do much to still a busy mind, heal overwhelm and stop cycles of worry and doubt. Short on time? Try a colour meditation, where you gently note through every colour you see in your surroundings. Or focus on the simple act of eating a treat you love from beginning mouthful to end. Gift yourself something small but meaningful, or take a minute to think about an obstacle you successfully overcame.
What's self-care for my body?
Go with what feels good, whether you veer closer to a 10-minute morning stretch on your balcony, or a three-hour run through the hills. Are there goals you would truly like to accomplish, or a new skill youd like to learn? Pencil it in your planner and get moving. A body focus doesnt have to mean mobility. It can also include eating healthier or adding an indulgent treat here and there, or slathering on a new shower creme and face pack.
And now how do I feel my soul?
Start the morning well with a sunrise gratitude ritual. In her book, Emily silva shares one uplifting and easy meditation for every morning of the year. Watch an inspiring ted talk, listen to a podcast, or play a comedy show that has you in stitches. Dance to your favourite music, or in your journal, write down three things you feel grateful for. Make a compliments list about yourself, or a no list of things you want to let go of, and then week by week let go of them all.
But self-care feels so selfish…
At its heart, self-care is about self-love, and showing up in the world with self-love gives you more patience with others, and a better ability to let go of control. Whats bad about that? If you have trouble getting started with self-care, can you figure out why and where that mental block kicks in? Do you put others values over your own, are you telling yourself that you just arent worth it? If so, use a journal to list all the reasons you deserve to be loved and cared for, and then pick one activity you would love to do within the next 24 hours and do it. Because you do deserve to be loved, by you.