I used to think that self care was just bubble baths, massages and martinis on a beach. I'm not going to sit here and tell you that you can't do any of those things if that's what self care means to you but I am going to tell you that there are definitely other things you can do to incorporate self care in to your every day life if bubble baths and cocktails seem a bit out of reach.
Self care can help rest your mind and body and reduce (or even avoid) anxiety and stress. It's no secret that mental stress can manifest itself in our physical bodies so it's extra important to practice self care regularly if you struggle from any form of chronic illness (mental or physical). So, let's dive in.
She's all smiles when self care is around
We all do it, so practicing some simple breathing techniques throughout your day is an easy place to start. This article by Very Well Mind explains why controlling our breathing is so beneficial and outlines some easy breathing techniques. My personal favourite (at the moment) is box breathing because I find visualising things so helpful when I am feeling anxious or triggered, but I would recommend trying out a few different techniques and seeing which one works best for you.
Practising box breathing between exercises at my physio
Being outside is so, so, so therapeutic. I notice such a difference in my mood on days where I don't get outside at all compared to days where I even spend two or three minutes in the fresh air. In the midst of the Tasmanian winter I find it helpful to even just sit by the window and focus on what is happening outside. If nothing else, being outside can help ground us and give us something to focus outside our heads and bodies.
Practising "5 Things" in the Winter sun
Rest is incredibly important. I used to think that rest meant getting 8 hours of sleep a night but over time I have realised that rest means something different for everyone. For me, rest can mean anything from napping to spending time with someone I love. Play around with what works for you and reflect on what makes you feel recharged.
Professional rester hard at work
Treat Yo Self
When I'm struggling, I make a point of having a nice, frothy cappuccino (even if my stomach doesn't love that ritual). Do something that you associate with feeling whatever feeling you need to cultivate. Remember that all the small things we do, add up to one great big self care ball of amazingness.
I think reaching out is something we don't often think about when we think of self care. When I started opening up about my mental health to my inner circle I quickly realised how important it is for me to be as honest as I can be with the people I trust. Not only do I try my hardest to be open and honest with my friends and family, but also with my professionals. I finally feel okay to call my psych's practice to book an earlier appointment when I am not doing well and the couple of times I have had to do that it has helped immensely. Reach out to your loved ones and professionals you trust. My door is always open if you need to talk to someone who is detached from your situation too. We are all in this together!
My beautiful mum/best friend
Self Care has different meanings for everyone. Find what works for you and mostly importantly: Put yourself first, you deserve it!
Life is tough, but so are you.