I wanted to talk about self-care and how to practice it daily. Sounds too good to be true right?! Wrong! I used to think self-care was getting a massage, going to the salon or seeing a therapist. Yes doing those things is caring for yourself, and they always give me a pick me up. But what about all the other days? All of those days in between anticipated appointments when you’re up to your eyeballs in work, children, chores and bills??
I hear from woman all the time who are mentally, emotionally & physically exhausted. All of their love and attention is pointed outwards. At their children, partners, homes, workplace/ business and friends. We are always thinking three steps ahead to make sure everyone else’s bases are covered.
Something to consider
Imagine if we literally had a hat for every role we played in our day to day. I don’t think the average wardrobe could hold all of those hats. Take a moment to close your eyes and visualise all the hats you wear daily with a their job title written on them. It could be Mum, Wife, Daughter, Friend, Cleaner, Chef, Nurse, Gardener, Chauffeur, Accountant, Employee, Mediator, Counsellor etc etc. The list could go on for days and it differs for everybody. The point being that we are constantly swapping our hat for another all day long. Sometimes wearing more than one at a time.
I have to ask, was there a hat with your actual name of it? There’s a high chance there wasn’t. That’s ok. I didn’t have one for a long time either. The great thing is now that you’re aware you can make one. It can be in your favourite colour with the fanciest font you can imagine. At first you will need reminding to put it on at least once a day. Eventually it will become so normal to wear it that you won’t take it off anymore. This doesn’t mean that you’re going to become self centred and not care about anyone but your self. What it actually means is that you are going to be able to give more of yourself. Only now you will be giving from a full cup because you’ve covered YOU first.
What is self-care?
Self-care is not about doing elaborate things for yourself (although you should do those things as often as possible because you’re amazing and deserve it). It’s making sure you give yourself your basic needs every single day. Getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, moving & nourishing your body, doing your pelvic floor exercises (yes that’s basic self-care and you will thank yourself later in life for it). It’s also doing something for yourself everyday. And last but not least, practicing gratitude & reminding yourself daily how capable, strong and amazing you are.
For some that list looks fairly basic, for others it appears completely overwhelming and unrealistic. Right now you want to throw your hands in the air and say “well that’s me out, I will never be able to practice self-care.” Please stay with me for a minute so I can break it down for you and show you that no matter what season of life you are in right now, that you can practice self-care.
Getting enough sleep
I’ve asked a lot of people about how much sleep they feel they need. For me my sweet spot is eight hours. I can comfortably wake up after eight hours of sleep and not feel tired throughout the day. Others say they need more, some less. Only you know what your body needs. In some phases of life getting enough sleep is not easy. Especially if you have small children. The aim with this is that whatever season of life that you are in, you are intentional about getting as close to what you feel you need. Some nights you will, some you won’t. Those dirty dishes will still be there in the morning and you will feel much better tackling them with some sleep under your belt.
Drinking enough water
I hate to admit it but until a few years ago I barely had one glass of water a day. I lived on tea and coffee. That’s so far from the recommended minimum of eight glasses a day. I never felt thirsty so I simply didn’t think about it. Up to 60% of an adult body is water and about 75% of your brain is made up of water. I’m not a scientist but I can see that by those stats alone that dehydration is not good for us.
I joined a fitness challenge at the gym where part of the requirement was to drink three litres of water per day! I went from barely drinking one glass to twelve in a day. The first week had me walking around my house without pants because I was sick of pulling them up and down all day from my very frequent toilet visits. I actually thought drinking that much water seemed a bit extreme but it was on the list of things I was meant to do and I like to be able to tick things off. So I was doing it. Even if it did make me consider adult diapers for the first week.
By around day 10 I noticed a MASSIVE difference in my skin. Especially my face. My skin was plump and dewy. I went to see my skin clinician for a regular facial and the first thing she said to me was that she could tell I’d been drinking water!
Also for those wondering, the frequent peeing does settle down once your body adjusts to all of this new found fluid. Push through, it will become your new normal and you will feel wonderful for it.
Moving & nourishing your body
This does not mean you need to go out and get a gym membership or turn vegan. If you already do or you would like to go for it! Your body will love you for it. But don’t feel like moving and nourishing your body can’t be a part of your day to day if you’re not a fitness freak or health obsessed. It’s simply about doing what the title says. Moving your body means moving your body. If you don’t ever exercise, start with something very small and achievable for you. Something you know within yourself that you can do regularly without feeling overwhelmed and wanting to quit. It can be a walk around the block, or following along with a simple stretching tutorial on youtube. Whatever is a step up for you, do that.
When it comes to nourishing your body. Don’t over complicate it. I’m not a nutritionist so I am not in anyway going to tell you what you should and shouldn’t eat. The only thing I know for sure is that including healthy foods in my diet is good for my body. It keeps my insides happy and working the way they should. Eat your veggies!
Pelvic floor exercises
I’ve had five babies. I didn’t know sneezing equaled involuntary peeing was a thing until I had given birth to my first child. It quite frankly horrified me! I realised the physiotherapist that comes to visit you in the hospital after delivery to explain pelvic floor exercises wasn’t doing it for fun. It was actually necessary. Pelvic floor exercises aren’t just for those who have given birth either.
If you are unsure of how to do them or would just like to read some wonderfully explained content on it, Anna from The Whole Mother has a free Ebook that you can get here https://www.thewholemother.com/freebies/. You will need to pop in your name and email and it will be sent straight to your inbox.
Doing something for yourself
With this one I always aim for at least half an hour. My children are not tiny anymore so that’s doable for me. If you have babies or toddlers, aim for a minimum of fifteen minutes of deliberate ‘you time.’ It can be as simple as reading a book, sitting in your garden having a cup of tea to getting your hair done or going out for lunch. Most days I go for a walk alone so this covers moving my body and doing something for myself. If I get to do something else for myself in the day it’s a bonus. It’s about clearing a small portion of time in your day where you can mentally switch off from everything and everyone. Think of it like putting your phone on the charger in the middle of the day to top up the battery.
If you work make sure that you are taking the breaks you are entitled to. That in itself if practicing self-care. You can create a little ‘me time’ ritual during your lunch break by reading a book, listening to a podcast, going for a walk, journalling or even playing a game on your phone. I don’t really consider going on social media as doing something for yourself. The reason for this is that it takes all of your attention away from you. Your instagram feed is filled with snippets of everyone else’s lives. Doing something for yourself should be about creating your own little bubble of mental recharge time. You don’t want to spend this precious time finding out what Sharon had for breakfast or what name Tiffany decided on for her new parrot. That’s not going to add to your life. Taking this time for you will.
Practicing gratitude and positive affirmations
These are my favourite. Practicing gratitude has actually got me through anxiety attacks. If I start to feel anxious I will pull out my phone and go to my notes, or even grab paper and a pen and start writing. I bullet point all I’m grateful for. I keep going until the anxiousness passes. Once you train your mind to look for all the good in your life you can’t help but to see more of it. I’m sure you’ve heard of the saying, ‘seeing is believing.’ I’ve personally found that by practicing gratitude and positive affirmations that ‘believing is seeing.’
My children play a game called spotto. It’s where if you see a yellow car you have to be the first person to shout “spotto!” Before this game existed in our lives I don’t think I could recall ever seeing a yellow car other than a taxi. Now I can’t help but see ten yellow cars every time I leave the house. There has always been yellow cars on the road, I was just never looking for them before. Now they are everywhere.
That’s what gratitude is like. Once you start, you can’t help but see it. It’s the same for positive affirmations. You would be able to relate to what it feels like to believe negative things about yourself. We have those negative feelings because we’ve spent so much time telling ourselves that we are not good enough. See! Tell yourself something enough times and you’ll start to believe it!! So start telling yourself that you are enough, that you are worthy, that you are strong, that you are loved and do not stop until you believe it! Then once you believe it, keep reminding yourself every single day so you don’t ever forget.
If you would like to give practicing gratitude and positive affirmations a go you can get my free templates here. https://inmelsmind.com/templates/
So there you have it. Self-care and how to practice it daily. These are what I’ve found to be the basic self-care needs that everyone needs. They are now as routine to me as brushing my teeth. If you already do some of them, keep going! For the ones you don’t do, give them a go. If it seems too much you can start by introducing one at a time until it fits in to your life without having to give it too much thought. This is about practising self-care. Practice makes perfect so don’t ever give up on yourself.