I was sure I wrote about this but perhaps it has just been sharing the mountains of information and articles already circulating. But there is a challenge with self-care I am noticing; the info and articles just touch the surface and rarely land in a way that creates solid change or technique. So I thought I would bring together a few ideas and thoughts that may help.
The underlying principle of all of this is about connection and support. That we are social creatures and we can argue this another day but a great deal of what we do and who we are is connected with others. Let’s say interdependence rather than independence or co-dependence for example.
First of all you have to be specific. You need to understand and write down the people, places, things that bring you peace and joy. This can be from breathing exercises through to a long bath or hard run.
Off you go and keep reading once you’re done 🙂
Reflect on your current situation and explore the times you find yourself hi high or uncontrolled states of emotion. Again create a list of the people, places and things that move you anywhere from calm and happy. You may even need to monitor this over a week or two just to really tune in to what may be impacting.
Now we have two lists. Let’s get practical. Some of your self-care list will be items you can insert into life pretty easily although easy for one person may not be easy for another. This is why it is important to understand what self-care looks like for you. Just ignore all the “shoulds” for now – eating different coloured vegetables, hours of sleep, minutes of exercise etc… you can focus on what new super food you MUST eat for optimal health down the track 😉 It’s easy to fail when you take on change as well as care. Just focus on care to start with.
The other side of practicality is time and place. I can’t use a long hot shower as my self-care at work for example. But I could use a 20min break outside in a park. So you may need to revisit your two lists above and see if you have self-care that is achievable.
Find a way to make it real. Copy this onto your computer, open it each day and draw a cross through all the ones you achieve (or create your own from the list above). Print something like this and put it on the fridge, the bathroom mirror… somewhere you are reminded to think about it and check in with yourself.
Now this is where we start to extend things a little. Self-Care bingo is also a great game to play with others. I had a go with friends a while back which brought some humour to it but also made it ok that we weren’t looking after ourselves and needed support.
Often it seems we think that self-care is an activity to do for yourself by yourself. However how well you are coping, how well self-care is working/or not and how that relates to others is really really important to think through. Here are some ways people can be (and need to be) integrated into self-care
- Joining others in general self-care (diet, sleep, exercise).
- Like Bingo above, these can be safe areas to even engage with others at work. Joining in with others helps with motivation and keeps it front of mind.
- Sharing our individual self-care attempts and success with others.
- This is where you need to start identifying trusted support people that you can openly discuss self-care with and how you are going. You could setup and formal check-in and let them know you need them as a support person in that space.
- Support once you have lost it.
- Who are the people you can call if things aren’t going ok. Self-care is also about knowing when you need help. If you don’t have this list then you need to create it. Maybe it involves mental health professionals or help lines but it is really important to know what not so good and then bad looks like and agree with yourself who you are going to for support.
If you need a hand working through this please get in touch!