Be honest, what do you think of when you think of self care? Are you thinking spa days, manicure, treating with nice food, maybe a glass of something sparkly, locking the door and turning up the TV?
If you answered yes, you’re not alone. And does this all sound a bit self indulgent, selfish even? And how often do you achieve the above? I’m guessing you might be struggling to remember and then feeling bad that you don’t do it more often. Well, I’m not going to tell you whether it’s self indulgent or not, but if you believe that, I do think that it’s probably the reason why you don’t do it – that and telling yourself you don’t have time/money. (all part of the same reason actually.)
Magazines, twitter feeds, FB pages all tell us (especially if you’re female) that self care should be a major part of your life – let’s face it, if you don’t do it for you, who will? And most of these articles are attached to pictures of a swish hotel, blue skies, beautiful people draped in robes with equally beautiful food and extortionate prices. And most of us will turn the page, thinking, ‘looks nice, but it’s not for me’.
So, what if I described self care as something that might not be as pleasant? Or as complicated? Or as expensive? Or as self indulgent? In reality, self care is pretty much essential to thrive. We all make decisions every day about self care; from cleaning our teeth, and healthy eating, to having that R&R with our best friends. It’s our responsibility, wherever possible, but we may involve professionals in it too, eg our GPs. There’s a lot of research about how much lack of self care costs ‘the system’ in terms of medical interventions, often in terms of mental health, and benefit payments because people become so low that they’re unable to work, never mind the distress that it can cause. (British Journal of General Practice, January 2011 Self Care Journal; The economic burden of minor ailments on the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK, 105-116. September 2010).
Five top tips for making sure your self care is up to scratch;
· Don’t make promises you know you’ll never keep – I know you mean to call that person soon to arrange coffee, but, in your list of priorities, will it happen without you building a whole load of resentment and stress.
· Fix something that’s been bothering you – put that button back on, clean your windows, take those clothes to the charity shop. Having ‘broken’ stuff hanging about can drag us down, fixing it, can give us a boost.
· Make one small change to your diet for a week and see if it sticks. Even drinking an extra glass of water a day can make a difference to our health and help us think us more clearly.
· Do someone a good turn – without them noticing! Although it’s always lovely to be thanked for something, that warm feeling from paying for a coffee for the person behind you in the queue, or putting your neighbour’s bin out is well worth it.
· Write down five positive things about your day, every day for a month. I guarantee you’ll start to see the world differently.
Be great to hear back from you when you see the benefits of thinking more clearly, seeing a brighter world, and enjoying life just a little bit more.