When was the last time you really took care of yourself?
I’m talking about truly doing something for yourself; without compromise or guilt. Without a little person hanging off your legs or jumping on you as you flow through your yoga practice (this happens to me...every day); without a deadline dragging you back on your peaceful stroll down the beach or a client’s messages pinging while you soak in the tub.
A biennial survey carried out by the Southern Cross Health Society last year concluded, again, levels of stress amongst New Zealanders are rising. The survey found, what I’m sure you will know, those in small businesses are under immense pressure, and their workloads are leading to increased anxiety levels. Our work/life balance is currently the biggest cause of stress for those in all types of workplaces.
So, I’m just going to come right out and say it…
Self-care is not a dirty word!
While doing some research, I did what any good millennial does; I Googled. I found pages upon pages of information about why self-care is a vital part of our lives. Endless advice and tips on what to do and where to go. The self-care industry is huge. Some of you reading could even work within it.
But, we know we should look after ourselves. We can’t hope to be of any use to others if we don’t. As they say in the airplane briefings; put your own oxygen mask on first.
What can I offer here that will make any difference to you?
What I have included here are some practical things that I’ve done to help me on my way to taking better care of myself. There’s also a few links (at the end) to research, advice and other support services in case you would like a better understanding of the whole field of, ‘emotional first-aid’ (Guy Winch).
*Step 1: Find your ‘thing’
Not everyone is into yoga or meditation. We can’t all find our happy place while exercising or painting. What works for your friend, might not work for you. In fact, you might not even want to be with friends. The first step to truly taking care of yourself is to, ‘find what feels good’ (Adriene Mishler).
What part of you really feels like it needs quality attention paying to it?
Do I want to be alone or in company?
*Step 2: Make time for it
We all know that in a busy day, things that aren’t planned for won’t happen. Find a time that you can dedicate to yourself.
Choose an activity you can achieve with the time you can make.
5 minutes or 5 hours, it’s the process of setting time for yourself that’s the most important.
Be realistic but give your ‘me-time’ the space and status it deserves
*Step 3: Change it up
Don’t let it become something else you are a slave to! If you don’t love doing it, stop.
Love it, keep it
Hate it, bin it
I’m no saint, and I feel somewhat hypocritical writing this; I know I should take better care of myself. It’s easy to make excuses and to let the guilt creep in. But honestly, when I give myself some ‘me time’, I’m a better wife, mother, friend, teacher, sister, writer...the list goes on for us all. Just remember, all those things we want to be for other people are so much easier, and enjoyable if you take some time off to just be one thing…
So don’t feel guilty when you hit that snooze button a few extra times, or for taking a nice long bath in the middle of the day. The house will not berate you for leaving the laundry and going for a nice long walk, or a spot of shopping. The world will not stop turning when you put yourself first and escape for a whole day!
Go on, live dangerously.
Would you like to keep reading? Check out these links.