I seem to have been banging on about self care for the past few months and I thought I’d address what self care is and why it’s important for all of us.
I first tuned into the idea of self care a few years ago when I left the army. I was looking for ways to improve my health and wellbeing. At that stage I hadn’t given my activities the label of self care, but essentially I was taking the time to do – or not do, more importantly – things that actively made me feel more energised, improved my sleep, improved my mental health and generally made me happy.
Fast forward to now, and self care is vital for my practice as a massage therapist; being present, relaxed, with energy and unburdened by my own ‘stuff’ is vital to being able to give a great massage, several times a day.
The more I practice my own self care, the more I realise how important it is for everyone in this fast paced and expectant world we live in to have a strategy to maintain or improve their health.
Back to the question then:
What is self care?
You might find many variations on this theme, but to me, self care is any activity or combination of activities that helps you improve and then maintain your sense of health and wellbeing.
It’s as simple as that, finding the things in your life that really nourish you and contribute to you feeling happy and healthy. Giving yourself the time and permission to do these things is the part that can prove challenging.
Why is self care important?
Practicing regular self care can have so many benefits, depending on what your intention is, it can:
- Help you relax and reduce stress
- Make you feel more positive
- Boost your mood
- Make you more productive
- Improve your sleep
- Increase your energy levels
- Cumulatively improve your health by lowering the risk of chronic health conditions
- Improve your relationships, especially with yourself
- Enable you to deal with stress and challenges more easily
- Give you the time, patience and energy to help others
Small changes can make far reaching changes in your life – there’s something about taking control of your health that has a snowball effect in changing other areas of your life. Self care to increase your energy levels might mean you have the extra energy you need to take up a new hobby. Self care that helps you relax might also help to reduce pain or discomfort in your body and your able to do more exercise. You get the picture, start with self care and you never know where the journey might take you!
This week take some time to identify why self care might help you, what is it that is on your mind:
- Not enough time?
- Not enough energy?
- Feeling overwhelmed?
- Not sleeping?
- Reliance on caffeine, alcohol or sugary foods?
Then think about the small things you could change or introduce that you really enjoy and that would help you replenish and nourish yourself. Start giving these things some presence in your life, be conscious and aware of the things you do that serve you well and the things that aren’t serving you.
Next week I’ll be sharing my own self care practices and what happens when I do them (and what happens when I don’t!), and give you some ideas on self care that are easy to incorporate into your daily routine.
What are your favourite self care activities? Feel free to comment below!