Self-care. It sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?
But sometimes it can feel a little like candy floss… full of fluff! Nice for that sweet moment until it’s gone and you find yourself unsated, craving more of… who knows what.
It’s this generation’s buzzword but the idea of self-care can almost feel overwhelming.
What does self-care actually mean? How do we know when we need it? And how do we tease out the practical tools that are sustainable, inexpensive and bring us that sense of wellness in mind, body and spirit that the word ‘self-care’ encapsulates?
What does ‘self-care’ mean?
I firmly believe that, apart from the obvious (eating well, getting enough sleep, taking time to move), self-care is different for everyone.
But in general and for me, self-care means:
giving yourself the space to tap in to your inner wisdom
addressing your individual needs and caring for yourself intuitively
meeting yourself where you are, as you are
becoming your own best friend
talking to yourself with kindness and compassion
quieting your inner critic
moving away from unrealistic, unsustainable promises we try to make with ourselves
Self-care (for me, at least) is not:
another tool to beat yourself up with
adding more to-dos to your routine
taking away the things that bring you joy
reading more self-help books and feeling guilty for not finishing them
How do you know when you need self-care?
Knowing what self-care means and what it doesn’t is all well and good but where do we actually start?
One of the best ways to find out if we’re in need of self-care is by turning inwards and tuning into our body and being open to what it has to say.
Every part of us is connected.
The mind is not separate from the body, and how we treat ourselves as a whole really matters. This includes paying attention to the way we speak to ourselves, the tone of our thoughts, what we put into our bodies, how we move, and whether we’re listening to ourselves.
Do you listen to your body? Are you aware of the signals it might be sending you? Or have you become so removed from its inner dialogue that you can no longer hear its whisperings?
So if any of the below symptoms resonate with you right now, your body and mind might be trying to tell you to up your dosage of self-care.
you’re always tired
you have no real energy or enthusiasm for anything
you eat food that’s convenient and quick but unfulfilling and typically nutritionally-scarce
you zone out frequently and get distracted
you feel constantly depleted or just ‘off’
The problem is, when we’re in a state of depletion, we crave comfort. That comfort can come in many forms… food, company, affection, alcohol. But these only offer instant gratification that's short-lived.
What if, instead, we could call on a few simple tools to assist us in recognising when we’re heading towards depletion that help to restore us to balance?
That’s where self-care comes in.
Self-care for your self: what works for you?
Learning which tools truly support you is really a journey of self-discovery and can take a lifetime.
Everyone is different and requires various approaches to meet their needs. There really is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to self-care.
Once you start paying attention and experimenting with different tools, you’ll start to notice when you’re feeling depleted and understand how best to nourish yourself in those moments.
So find what works for you. Stay curious. Keep practising.
Simple self-care ideas
Self-care really doesn't need to be complicated. In fact, it should be super simple. The key is to:
a) find a moment to pause, check-in with yourself and ask what you need
b) apply simple effective tools that help bring you back into balance.
Here are 20+ simple, easy, quick and inexpensive ideas:
get outside for a walk
take a few deep, nourishing breaths
call a friend
play your favourite song
dance around the kitchen like me!
read a good book cuddle your pet
try journalling do something creative like drawing, colouring or writing
find some inspirational quotes
get a hug from someone you love
make yourself a cup of tea
switch off your phone
have a bath
take a nap
cook something delicious
say ‘no’ instead of ‘yes’
try some affirmations
watch something funny
apply some essential oils
look at the stars at night
smell some flowers
do some yoga (see Yoga for Self-Care)
However you choose to approach self-care, rather than letting it be another thing to fit in, let it be a natural and organic evolution.
Let the simple acts of self-care you develop become as second nature as brushing your teeth. Because at its heart, self-care is preventative not curative. We learn to listen to ourselves physically, mentally and emotionally and take action before we hit exhaustion and overwhelm.
No one else can look after you better than you. You're worth the time and the effort of getting to know yourself, of meeting yourself where you are and guiding yourself towards a place of comfort, ease and wellness.
I'd love to hear from you. Let me know what you carry in your self-care toolkit!