Selfcare - how to actually do it and not just #selfcare on insta.
Unless you're living under a rock you might have heard the latest buzzword or seen all the hashtags for #selfcare.
There's a reason this exists and its not just because of people wanting to take photos of their coffees everyday (although...it may have started like that). As a society that lives in a very busy world, we're slowly realising that looking after ourselves mentally as well as physically is really important.
So what is #selfcare? And more importantly...how do you do it?
The definition I like is "the practice of taking an active role in protecting one's own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress."
Such a good definition! (Thanks google!)
Self care behaviours are different for every single person because what a person values is different to another. What represents felling well and happy might be very different to someone else! For example, you might thrive on going out and catchy up for drinks with friends after a full working day whereas someone else might prefer going for a solo beach walk to unwind from their working day - or you might like both depending on your mood - there's not right or wrong way!
So, why is self care important?
Easy - because stress has lots of negative affects on the body. Small, acute periods of stress aren't bad for you, they can make you more alert and more productive - however, long term stress or constant stress is very bad for the body.
Stress can play a role in your body, your thoughts, your feelings, your behaviours - you name it. It's a very powerful thing. Stress, left unchecked, can contribute to health problems and poor well being.
stress can contribute to health problems like high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes
stress lowers your immune response meaning you may be run down or sicker more often
stress can affect your mood - you might feel restless, anxious, sleep poorly, fatigued, irritable or angry or lack motivation
stress can affect your behaviours including overuse of caffeine or alcohol, mindless eating, exercising less often, staying awake too late, etc
you may be more sensitive to pain or more focused on your pain leading to discomfort and poor quality of life, poor engagement with rehab for injuries and a general lack of motivation
So many aspects of our lives and our bodies can be impacted by stress. That is why self care is important and so here is our guide on how to get started:
1. Firstly, identify all of the things that contribute to you feeling well and happy.
This might be things like - exercising regularly, attending yoga x 1 a week, seeing family on weekends, going out to dinner once a month with your group of friends, going to bed early and watching Netflix movie for 2 hours on a Sat, walking on the beach 3 x a week, etc, etc - it could be LITERALLY anything.
It's important that you write down things that are specific TO YOU. What makes you happy and feel well within yourself.
2. Secondly, write down how you could include these in your week.
It's all well and good to know WHAT you want to do but you also need to work out HOW to include it into your week. So take stock of your diary - when could you make time to go to the gym or yoga, when could you have a night to yourself and watch your fav movie, when could you fit in a photography class after work - etc!
In addition to this - what in your week is not contributing to your happiness? Is it time for that activity to go / time to change it up?
Really evaluate your week!
3. Prioritise and look after YOU first.
You probably wouldn't be surprised when I tell you how many people EVERY SINGLE DAY say to me "I don't have time". It's probably every second client if not more. And guess what? I say it too - constantly - to my mentors, to my colleagues, to my friends - you name it!
Now here's the truth bomb...
"I don't have time" is bullsh*t. Yep, 100% bullsh*t. We all have the same amount of hours in a day, the same number of days in a week. Yes, we all have different things we need to or want to do in a week but it comes down to priorities. If you want to do something you have to make time, prioritise and plan.
Now when someone asks me about doing something I answer "I'd love to but this week I've got x, y and z that need my full attention - how does next week sound?" not "I don't have time". It takes A LOT of getting used to. To change that thinking. To take ownership over your week.
I know how hard it is to do because I was right where you might be sitting about 3 months ago.
3 months ago I was starting to feel very run down, very tired, very unmotivated, stressed and unimpressed with how my body felt, my mental state, my week. It was a lot of "meh". Fortunately, I have people in my life who challenge me (and my thinking) and they pulled me up on my apathetic attitude of "my life sucks right now, nothing is working and I'm just too busy" and told me exactly what I needed to hear - "Well then change it".
I'm fairly confident that I got shitty and listed about 10 "reasons" that all this annoying stuff was getting in the way but eventually I realised they were right (lets hope they don't read this?). I needed to change my priorities, focus on what helped make me feel happy, refreshed and energised so I got more out of life. So that's what I did.
So now what?
Get started! Look at the 3 steps above and start thinking about how you can include more things into your week that re-energise you, relight that fire of passion for projects or hobbies or help you feel rested and recovered.