Updated: Jan 16
Lets talk about Self Care!
I want to address this because even I have had to re-address my self care and the rules that I use for myself. The last year has admittedly been a tough one for us all and even some of the most efficient people I know are struggling with self care at this time.
So lets clarify, the definition of self care varies from industry to industry, but for me, the underlying principle of self care is to intentionally engage in activities that improve my overall wellness and being. It involves my whole person and the extensions of me such as my spirit, my environment and the people in my life.
This can be a range of things that are personal to me that bring me happiness, joy, comfort and love such as sea salt baths, singing along to my favourite music, watching some big-belly-laughter comedy shows and having some treats.
Self care can also mean that I explore the darker side of myself such as the things that make me scared, the unresolved traumas from my past and what triggers my heightened emotions that I am presently working on.
I engage in shadow work to address the parts of me that I want to improve by practicing to cultivate a more loving and wholesome relationship with myself - this is important in optimising my overall wellness and being.
That includes exploring the justifications I make for having the things, being in places, being involved or making choices that I know that I shouldn't have as well.
My lightbulb moment was realising that self care is giving myself what I need in that moment, for the betterment of myself
Many people have had to adjust or even dramatically shift their usual means of self care because the usual options of leisurely activities such as spas, restaurants, night clubs, gyms and many places of worship are currently revolving doors or cease to exist.
Even some of the simple self care habits have been tough to maintain. I talk to the people around me, friends, colleagues, and people on social media, everyone is feeling burnt out, even while trying to maintain their self care.
Falling in and out of sync with things that makes them feel good, again myself included. Even some of the most grounded and centered individuals I know are struggling to manage, let alone optimise their overall wellbeing.
What ever circumstances you have endured personally, be it job loss, bereavement, sickness or struggling with balancing homeschooling with remote working
Self care can often go right out of the window and we don't even realise it until we feel run down!
Despite the years that I have engaged in self care practices, I realised that I needed a set of rules that I can refer back to, when I am practicing self care well, but also when I am not attending to my needs at all.
These are a set of 8 rules that can help to improve and maintain a good momentum of self care, whatever activity you engage in to attend to your needs.
1. Be patient with yourself
Patience is such an important factor when embarking on a journey of self care. There will be some promises we break to ourselves, some tasks that we fail to fulfil and more time, we fall back into old habits as a default.
It can be frustrating, feeling as though we have let ourselves down. Be patient with the pace of your unlearning. You are going through a process of learning to recognise when you are in need of due care, attention and affection.
You are training yourself to stop and attend to your needs, which I find is more difficult when you are stressed.
Self care can be easy when you are in a good place mentally and emotionally, but you are also learning how to confirm that you deserve this treatment even when you are not at your best.
Be patient with yourself while you are re-learning how to pay attention to your mind, body and soul.
2. Allocate time for your self care tasks
Simply put, schedule a meeting with yourself! Make the intentional time, as you would for a work meeting, to attend to your self care needs. You are the only person who is able to carve out and allocate yourself the time to do something uplifting and nourishing just for you.
We can all make excuses
Push that well needed break to the side while immersed in day to day or work life activities - telling ourselves "if we can just make it to the end of the day" and even then spend evenings attending to the needs of our family, doing house work, updating ourselves on the missed social media from the day and so much more.
It may seem like you do everything you are doing, but eventually that energizer bunny moment ends and you will need to recharge.
Rather than running on empty until you burn out, I try to secure small pockets of time throughout the day, every day, just for me.
Put it in your calendar, set a reminder, out it on a post-it note. It is imperative that you do this. When you are at risk of damaging your wellbeing, you either have the intentional choice to take the time out or your health will make the decision for you.
3. Speak and act in kindness
The way you speak to yourself kind of determines the likelihood of you engaging in any self care practices, so it goes hand in hand with act in kindness too. Being kind involves an element of consideration, gentleness, empathy and care.
Speaking and acting in a kind manner is treating yourself like you would a friend, someone whom you cared deeply for and wanted nothing but abundance for them.
Treat yourself like your best friend not your worse enemy
Monitor your thoughts and speech, ensuring you attempt to filter out the negativity. We can be our own biggest critic at the best of times, learning to be compassionate, tender and patient with ourselves are also elements of kindness that are required throughout any self care practice you decide to engage in.
Personally, I think it is of most importance to emphasise that kindness needs to become a state of being. One way I find helpful is to talk to yourself as you are talking to your inner child, the 5 year old version of yourself.
This may help you to let go of the frustrations, expectations, anger or guilt you may feel when trying to develop a self care practice - remembering that we all have an inner child that needs loving guidance while we are learning. Remember to be kind to yourself
4. Ask yourself deep questions
Often, we do not ask ourselves the deep, reflective questions that we need to ask ourselves in order to gain the clarity, understanding or closure that we may need.
We limit our healing potential by not asking these questions, hiding from the truth and fearful of it's impact on our current living.
The deeper connections we make with ourselves, to our soul and spirit, are just as, if not more important, than the physical connections we make with our bodies to know what we need.
Am I hiding from something?
Do I put up a front when around others? And why?
How has my past impacted my present?
What does life mean to me?
Why do I neglect my needs?
Who do I listen to when I am in need of advice?
How do I right my wrongs?
Do I deserve tenderness?
How can I be joyful and happy?
These are some examples of how you can begin asking yourself the questions many of us are scared to think, ask and answer.
Grant yourself the permission to explore what is beneath the surface and activate some soul care, this enables your to address the physical care just as well.
Create a sacred space to explore self care and soul care
5. Reach out for help and support - Don't suffer in silence
There is so much support and help out there to get you prepared and ready for your self care journey.
This is a time to equip yourself with as much knowledge, information and practices as possible - there is a wealth of information available about different self care regimes which can be expensive, sometimes intimidating and often confusing when the benefits and process are not explained properly.
From self help websites and books, to self-therapy interventions, the self care world has become inundated and difficult to navigate due to the term 'self care' becoming a buzz word!
Now, this does not mean to totally ignore your needs at all! This means that you need a bit of guidance, advice and encouragement - which we all require at different points of our lives.
I encourage you to reach out to someone who you trust that can support your journey to selecting the best practices for your needs - create a self care plan!
It is easier said than done, but please, muster up the courage to contact someone if you really do need some help.
Do not suffer in silence, you deserve the gift and learn the skills of good, honest and nourishing self care
6. Be honest with yourself on where you are at emotionally
Honesty is the best policy but the hardest to thing to do with ourselves. Putting on a brave face, being 'strong' and disregarding our emotions and how they are impacting our feelings is a common trait for people who find self care difficult.
At times, I find myself trapped in a loop of belief that my strength is my whole being - forgetting that my vulnerability is a strength that is also part of me too.
Hiding or holding back where I am at emotionally leads me to a breakdown in self care regime. I have learnt I just need to be honest with myself, no matter how hard it may be.
Take time out - that is okay!
I would often dishonour my emotions at the fear of being judged if I deviated from the person others know me to be. I get angry, I get jealous, I get sad - these are all part of me and I should not try to fulfil anyone else's thoughts or expectations of me - especially if it means limiting the full expression of my spectrum of emotions.
Feel what you need to feel. Be honest with where you have come from. Be honest with where you are at. Be honest about where you want to go. Once you have this truth, you can begin working on how you will get there.
7. Confirm, affirm and reaffirm your worth
You are the only person who can confirm, affirm or reaffirm your worth! If you feel as though you are not deserving or entitled to the gifts and rest that self care brings, then this is a focal point to work on.
Self worth is potentially the one factor that would prevent you from enacting on taking care of your needs. How often have you said:
"I will do that later or tomorrow" and never get around to completing that task you have been putting off for ages?
"I don't have enough money for that today" and never get round to making that well needed purchase?
"I can do without that" and always put yourself towards the bottom of the list?
This all stems from the way you view yourself and the value that you place on your ultimate wellness.
You do not need to justify attending to your needs around your perceived "if's and but's" - you should attend to your needs just because you simply exist and are worthy of being healthy, happy and in harmony.
There are general life responsibilities that need to be attended to, don't get me wrong, but at the same time recognise that YOU are one of those responsibilities too.
Only you will know what you truly need and that starts with respectfully listening to your body
8. Use a range of tools, do not rely on one method or intervention
I am a big believer in multimodal approaches to self care. For me, using one sole activity or form of self care doesn't usually work as best as it could.
I can develop compassion fatigue while practicing self care and attending to my needs. I was not aware of this until I found myself either disengaging or distracted to the the point I was not fully immersing myself in the self care practices and gaining their benefits.
Sometimes, it felt as though that practice may have served it's purpose for that moment in time. That is not to say I will not find and use tools that work for me, it just may not have been what I truly needed and this is often a sign that I need to level up in my self care practice - there are layers to this!
I am not afraid to explore new self care interventions that could support me through different layers of my healing journey.
I would usually layer up on the self care tasks, especially when doing shadow work. I incorporate more nurturing and grounding activities to ensure that I am replenishing my good energy too and taking care of how my emotions (state) impact on my feelings (physical response).
I hope these 8 simple rules really help you on your self care journey and cultivate the person you are meant to be
If you found these self care rules helpful and you would like a little reminder, check below for the downloadable graphic as your personal keepsake.
With love and learning
Download the Self Care Rules 101 graphic below: