Self-Care: The Buzzword of 2018

Are you being good to yourself? Some of us learn, to our detriment, that when we discard self-care, we become energy bankrupt. If this happens frequently, then it’s our body’s way of raising the red flag. If our bodies could talk they’d probably say ‘Mind us better’ at these occasions.

But some believe we are getting better at it. There’s a growing movement in self-care which means some of us are finally learning that there’s nothing selfish or luxurious about it. No longer is it the fluffy concept it was once believed to be. It’s a proven and highly effective strategy for strong mental health and resilience, perhaps even a vital tool for preventative health overall. And, better still, everyone benefits from it – including our loved ones.

What Exactly is Self-Care?

Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Although it’s a simple concept in theory, it’s something we very often overlook. Good self-care is the key to improved mood and reduced anxiety. It’s also the key to a good relationship with oneself and others.

The important thing is to learn the difference between a want and a need. You may want to eat a whole bag of crisps, but is that what you really need? Ask yourself ‘Is it a want or a need?’ Are you stressed? Are you anxious about something? On a scale of zero to ten, how anxious are you? If the answer is a high score, then you’re body is in alert mode and is likely craving foods that won’t help. What could you do instead? How could you nourish yourself and attend to your needs in a more healthy and constructive way?

When to Practice It?

It needs to be every day. That means not waiting until you get completely run down and exhausted, but now – almost as a preventative and maintenance tool. When we are feeling overwhelmed, we are sometimes at our least creative and resourceful so helping ourselves in the way that we need to just doesn’t happen.

A great way to begin is to practice self-care every morning, regardless of whether you have children or other dependents. Set the alarm twenty minutes earlier and take that time for yourself; to shower uninterrupted, or to meditate and to enjoy a healthy, delicious breakfast. Then you can attend to the needs of others, but you may notice that it comes from a much calmer and more grounded place.

The aim is to empower yourself with the skills to nurture yourself, not just your loved ones. Some believe mistakenly that self-care is a selfish act. But the truth is it is not only about considering our needs; it is more about knowing what we need to do in order to take care of ourselves, and then being subsequently able to take care of others as well. Just like the oxygen mask on the aeroplane, that sometimes means tending to ourselves first, and then we are in a better place to be able to help others.

10 Top Tips to Better Self-Care

Although self-care means different things to different people, here is a list of my own top ten.

1. Eat a nutritious, healthy diet: ideally eating every 3-4 hours to keep blood sugars level.
2. Make time to exercise: ideally outdoors, to enjoy nature but if you’re a gym-bunny, that’s fine too. Aim for 45 minutes three times a week.
3. Get enough sleep: ideally 7-8 hours each night.
4. Make time for regular health and dental check-ups.
5. Spend time with your loved ones and with people who make you feel good
6.  Look for opportunities to laugh: watch a comedy, attend a stand-up comedy gig or read a funny book.
7. Reclaim something you love: it may be something you haven’t done in a while. Is there a sport that you haven’t taken part in for ages; a neglected musical instrument or even a book you’ve been wanting to read?
8. Wear something you love: even if it’s not a special occasion. It could be your favourite colour, a fabric you love, a precious piece of jewellery or a bright lipstick – enjoy playing ‘dress-up’!
9. Nurture your physical body: consider a massage or an acupuncture or reflexology appointment.
10. Do at least one relaxing and/or pleasurable activity each day, whether it’s spending 30 minutes unwinding, going to the cinema with a friend, enjoying a meal out or having a long soak in a bath.

Further Reading

Self-Care for the Real World, by Nadia Narain and Katia Narain-Phillips. Wellness pioneers Nadia and Katia have spent years helping others to feel their best, but it took them a bit longer to understand how to look after themselves. Here they share the small achievable steps they have learned, and how you can apply them to your own life, wherever you are.

52 Lists for Happiness: Weekly Journaling Inspiration for Positivity, Balance, and Joy by Moorea Seal. This is a wonderful book to help you write yourself into regular self-care. With 52 listing prompts, it encourages readers to reflect, acknowledge, and invest in themselves, and ultimately transform their lives by figuring out exactly what makes them happy. This keepsake journal comes in a luxurious package full of lush photography, charming illustrations, copper foil, and a velvet ribbon. It’s an ideal gift for someone who needs a little more self-care in their life!

Blog Post by Maebh Coyle