When I used to think of self care I always thought..spa day...a bath in peace....getting my nails done....anything really that related to some sort of 'pamper' time. Whilst all these things are a great part of self care if you enjoy them and find them relaxing, I slowly discovered that self care is also so much more than these. Self care has so many dimensions, because caring about ones self goes much deeper than slapping on a face mask once in while.
Now don't get me wrong I love doing all of the above and certainly include them in my own self care moments, anything that gives you some time to yourself to chill out and unwind is a winner with me. However it's also about looking after your whole self in a variety of ways. It's about caring for your body and mind so that you don't feel neglected in the busyness off everyday life.
So here are some other dimensions I have discovered are part of self care. Maybe you could adopt some of these practices once in a while too, so your giving yourself the whole 'pamper' package...mind, body & soul.
- Eating well. It's certainly good to enjoy your favourite treats, I mean who doesn't love having that slice of cake when they go out for coffee, or devouring a pack of biscuits throughout the day because you need some energy quick. However it's important that we fuel our body with the good stuff too. We always preach to our kids about eating those veggies, let's start listening to oursleves. By consuming the healthy stuff as well, we are setting our bodies up to feel better so we aren't as tired during that mind afternoon slump. Enjoy the treats by all means, but remember to eat well and regular (we all know how easy it is to skip a meal in the motherhood rush, instead grabbing a snack hours later when we realise why we are so hungry) so that you can feel more energised the healthy way.
- Decluttering. Honestly getting rid of all the clutter is so freeing and weight lifting. Not only that having a good old clear out means, less visual clutter in your homes and also less stuff to have to worry about, clean, tidy and upkeep. Decluttering goes much further than personal possessions though, it can also be done with any sort of relationship. Letting go of toxic relationships, moving on from friends who you no longer feel that connection with, unsubscribing from all those unwanted emails and clearing out all those accounts you follow on social media which really make you feel crappy. Whatever it is, if it doesn't bring you joy and have a positive effect on your mindset, do you really need it in your life?
- Saying No. Heck our lives our so damn busy, it can always seem like things are expected of us left, right and centre. Another party, baking cakes for the school sale, mums night out, picking up extra loads at work, watching your friends kids for an hour, grabbing something from the shop for your partner... I mean the list is pretty endless right!? However learning to say NO, as a full sentence and without feeling guilty about it, is one of the best things you will ever do. Motherhood is crazy enough on the best of days, so don't burn yourself out physically and mentally because you feel you should say yes to everything. Learning to say NO, when you need to rest, want to stay in, too skint to afford it, means that we are able to slow down and put ourselves first. We are respecting ourselves and the ones who love us for who we truly are will respect that too.
- Doing the things we love. Sounds simple, but how often do we really actually do something we enjoy for ourselves? Discovering what we love and making time for that is great for our souls. I mean we all love our families, but outside of that role, we are an individual too, with our own hobbies and passions. Make time for those, so you can feel good too. Sit down and enjoy reading that book, the dishes can be done later. Go to that zumba class and dance your socks off, take a walk round a big stately home and study it's architecture. Whatever it is you love doing, don't forget to make time to do just that!
- Exercise. I know, a little like marmite, you either love it or loathe it. However exercise can do us wonders both physically and mentally. Now I'm not suggesting signing yourself up for a marathon or anything, unless thats your jam, but a little gentle exercise here and there does us the world of good. Physical activity is said to cause chemical changes in the brain which help to positively change our mood. When we take up regular exercise it can really help our mental wellbeing, it lifts out mood, energy and can even help us sleep better. We gain better self esteem, motivation and generally start to feel better ourselves. Start by doing something you would enjoy, a stroll in nature, a running group with friends, try a new class or even do one of those 7minute online workouts you can do at home and fit around the kids. Whatever it is, give it a try and see how it makes you feel, you never know you might decide you like to workout after all.
- Rest. If you not walking around in a constant state of tiredness, then what is your secret? Or maybe is because you have the perfect dose of all the above, a healthy, balanced life in all areas. However reality is, most of us don't have that balance quite right and we need to learn to stop and slow down when we feel the burn. Our lives are often overloaded with so much that we put taking time to rest near the bottom of our list. However we need to start teaching ourselves to remember that it's ok to do nothing once in a while. When things get too much, listening to our bodies and resting without feeling the guilt is necessary. If your tired take a nap or an early night, book a day off work to do nothing. When your mind is cloudy go slow, if all you do in the day is make it through then thats ok. If your feeling unwell, sit down, get better. Most of the things on our never ending to do list can wait another day, another week, or really do they even need doing? Put yourself first once in a while, because you mumma can't pour from an empty cup.
As you can see self care has a range of dimensions, you may even discover more that work for you. Ultimately though self care is about looking after ourselves fully, in every aspect. Imagine if we gave ourselves the love, respect, care and attention we give our loved ones or children? Wouldn't we feel great?
Start slow, a little self care and love here and there, then see how you bloom!