Feeling overwhelmed? Lying awake at night stressing? Forgotten how to relax? You’re not alone. Modern life leaves millions of us asking what’s left after work, family, kids – you name it – have taken their pound of flesh. And if you’re too stressed for too long there’s a risk of burnout: total emotional, physical and mental exhaustion. So, if any of this looks familiar, maybe it’s time to act. Maybe it’s time for a bit of self care.
What is self care?
It’s about looking after yourself. Self care means taking positive, deliberate steps to protect and promote your physical, mental and emotional health. It’s about refuelling – finding what makes you tick and fixing your schedule to make sure you get enough of it.
What self care isn’t.
It isn’t selfish. It’s about knowing what you need to look after yourself and making time for it in your daily schedule. Remember: if you take care of yourself, it’s an awful lot easier to take care of others. So ditch the guilt.
And it is isn’t about beating yourself up. Leave the hair shirt in the cupboard. It’s about finding what feeds you – what you really enjoy – and doing it.
Why do I need it?
It is hard to exaggerate the benefits, but even a small amount of time every day relaxing and rewarding yourself can boost the following:
· Healthy relationships with yourself and others
· Energy, confidence and positivity
· Concentration, motivation and productivity
Its also linked to better health, improved immunity and lower levels of fatigue – if you’re tired all the time, ask yourself if you’re getting enough self care.
How can I find time?
We know busy schedules can make it tough to find time for ourselves. But the benefits of self care are too important to miss out on. So consider the following:
· Why not switch off your gadgets? Social media eats time – why not try a walk instead?
· Can you get up earlier in the morning? Even 15 minutes a day stretching, exercising or meditating can make a huge difference to your day.
· Take a lunch break – get out of the office and sit in a park or look at the sky
· Learn to say no. One of the hardest – but most essential – life skills. Practice it.
What does it involve?
You’re one of a kind so it’s about finding what works for you. If you’re an extrovert, chances are you’ll want to be sociable – so join a book club or a group hike, take up dancing or a yoga class. If you’re on the solitary side, a walk in the woods, time with a good book, visiting a gallery. There’s no limit.
Having said that, we’re all human, so think about the following:
· Make sure you get enough sleep – you can’t live without it. Aim for a minimum of seven hours.
· Find a form of exercise that works for you – it doesn’t have to be vigorous, but try to get moving every day
· Eat well – look after your gut and your gut looks after you
· Schedule self-care into your day – and defend that time with your life
And remember: give yourself what you need and it’ll be a whole lot easier to give to others.