What is self care and why is it important?
Self care is anything that you do to take care of yourself (this includes your mind, body, and spirit). Due to our fast paced society, self-care is very important. We run through our daily lives trying desperately to get ahead but we always seem to battle the clock. Even when we finally crawl into bed at night we’re exhausted and left ruminating over all the things we still need to do. Sound familiar? This can feel like an eternal loop of incomplete to-do lists (the 10th and most terrifying ring of hell!!!)
We juggle jobs, school, partners, kids, hobbies, mortgages, volunteering, friends, family obligations, and more. Sadly, the idea of carving out any additional time for yourself can seem ludicrous—why would I add more to my schedule if I’m already overwhelmed? Because you deserve it and because you need it.
Consistent stress can cause an internal battle that throws off some of your most valuable processes. Stress can imbalance your hormones, disrupt your sleep, alter your eating habits, and make you physically ill. We need to stop shuffling stress off as if it’s not a valid problem. It’s not just stress, it’s STRESS and it’s important. (side note—if you are experiencing any scary symptoms make sure you go see your doctor).
So, what do we do? My intention with this blog post is to show you that there are affordable and effective tools that you can be used right at home to add to your self-care tool-kit. Feel free to pick and choose to suit your interests!
My self care toolkit contains, first and foremost, books! Whether it’s a fictional story that takes over my imaginative world or an informative guide that teaches me more about our world and the intricacies therein, I love taking time to get lost in something new! Reading distracts me from my busy world and helps to keep my mind and body calm.
My exercise activities of choice are a brisk walk and yoga.
I love walking outside but these Canadian winters can get pretty icy and cold so sometimes that’s not an option. I don’t mind the gym, but memberships can be expensive and I can’t always afford the costs. A couple years ago, while I had a good job, I saved up and bought myself a treadmill. Each winter my treadmill gets lots of use. BUT if it’s too cold outside and you don’t have a treadmill or access to the gym, consider going to your local mall and walking briskly for at least 30 minutes. A 30 minute brisk walk 4x a week is a great way to keep your body active and healthy.
For those of you interested in yoga, I recommend Yoga with Adriene on YouTube. Adriene’s channel offers a lot of videos for free. Her moto is “find what feels good” and she exudes this feel good mantra. With Adriene’s practice there is no push for perfection and she interjects so much humour into her practice that I find myself laughing out loud. If you’re interested, I encourage you to check out “Yoga with Adriene” on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/user/yogawithadriene
I still remember my first journal, it was my tenth birthday and my best friend had put together the ultimate Spice Girls gift bag, which included my very own Spice Girls journal—I was ecstatic (side note—I was soo Sporty Spice back in the day). 20 years and countless pages later, I’m still journaling.
For me, I journal to get my thoughts out onto paper when I feel like they’re swirling uncontrollably in my head. I journal when I can’t quite make sense of my feelings and I need some time to work through them and I journal to remind myself that there have been good days when it feels like there have been too many bad days.
First of all, I’m new to this and it’s hard for me. I’m an expert ruminator and I have about 200 thoughts whizzing through my brain at any given moment, so the practice of slowing down my thoughts and focusing on my breathing is hard, it’s just hard… but I’m trying.
For 5-10 minutes each morning I sit still and I turn on my “foggy river” sound and focus on my breathing. Sometimes after I meditate I feel calm and sometimes I feel like I struggled through the entire damn thing, but I remind myself that I did it and that’s rewarding. Each time I meditate it gets easier and my reward for my persistence is a more calm mind.
If you’re interested in guided meditation, I recommend the CALM app. It’s free in the app store and I’ve found it to be a great resource!
By the time you’ve taken care of your pet’s needs, your kids are in bed, you found a few minutes to spend with your partner, and your best friend called and vented about work… again—where’s your talk time? I know there are people who believe paying someone to listen to you talk is stupid, but I honestly think talk therapy is amazing.
I pay someone that I get along with (make sure you get along with the person! You’re allowed to be picky) to give me undivided attention and to let me talk about whatever I want and not judge, interrupt, or zone out (that I notice) for 60 whole minutes.
What I love most is the questions that I have for myself after I leave. I talk freely and openly and I find myself thinking about what I said afterwards and sometimes this leads me to challenge myself: “Do you really believe what you said?” “Is that actually how you feel?” “Maybe that situation wasn’t as bad as you thought…” and these kinds of questions help me to stay connected with myself and to continue growing as a person. Plus, it is nice and comforting to feel like your emotions, thoughts, and rambles are worth someone’s time (even if you’re paying for it) and that validation is comforting.
Personally, I have a history of taking on the emotions and problems of my friends and family and making them the center of my own world and forgetting about myself. This type of cycle is problematic and self harming. You cannot help someone else if you’re falling apart. Remember the flight attendant announcement? “If you’re travelling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure YOUR MASK FIRST, and then assist the other person.” You first, then spread the love and support or else there’s a chance you’re both going down.
It is important to note that talk therapy isn’t for everyone and that you have to WANT to do it for it to be effective. My counsellor told me at the beginning of our sessions: “think of counselling as a road trip. You are in the driver’s seat and I am in the passenger’s seat with a map and I’ll tell us where to go, but, ultimately, it’s up to you to decide if we get there.”
Positive Self Talk
Be nice to yourself. Seriously. There is so much negativity surrounding us all day long that the last thing you need is to add to it. Give yourself a break.
If you notice you’re being overly negative or hard on yourself, stop and take a breath and then challenge the negative thought. Ask yourself: “why do I think this?” “What proof do I have of this?”
For some people this is the most challenging self care tool. We get in this toxic cycle of telling ourselves that we can’t do this, that we’re not good enough, that bad things always happen to us and then we end up missing out on the good stuff because we’re so focused on the negative stuff.
If the idea of positive self talk seems totally out of your comfort zone, I encourage you to start with a list of 5 positive affirmations and remind yourself of this list daily.
- I am a confident person
- I like trying new things and learning from the experience
- I am capable
- I am kind
- I am a good listener
These can be anything but just start working on it and getting into a habit of positive self talk with yourself. It’s challenging but it’s worth it to start!
It is SO tempting to rely on comforting carbs, processed sugars, and fast food when you’re feeling down or rushed. There is an immediate response that feels sooo gooood when you eat junk but then there is the crash. Your body needs nutrients and balance to be healthy.
Sometime I’m terrible with this. I drink too much coffee, I eat a bag of chips to myself, and I live off pasta. Eventually I remind myself that I need more water, I need leafy greens, I need omega oils, and I need proteins. I remind myself that what I ingest affects EVERY process in my body including the health of my mind.
There is nothing that I love more than snuggling with a pet! Pets make me feel SO happy and calm. I take every opportunity that I get to pet and snuggle friendly animals.
If you do not have a pet of your own, consider visiting a friend or family member who does have a friendly pet, or consider volunteering at your local humane society!
Those are my current tools that I use. I’d love to lie and tell you that I use ALL of these tools ALL of the time but I don’t. Life gets busy and it’s so easy to shove this stuff off to the side and that’s ok! Don’t beat yourself up if you have a hard time being consistent. None of our journeys are the same and so no self care kit should be the same. Listen to yourself and decide when you need a tune up and give yourself a little extra attention.
Breath. Stretch. Relax.
I’d love to hear from you! What else do you do for self care?
Necessary disclaimer: I am not a health professional. I encourage you to consult a doctor before making any health changes related to a specific diagnosis or condition. No information on this site should be relied upon to make a medical diagnosis or determine treatment for a medical condition. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice.