Self care isn’t just important, or a new buzzword that’s being thrown around. Self care is absolutely crucial for maintaining a healthy mind and a healthy lifestyle. When you’re running low on energy or carrying too many burdens, or just not feeling very resilient, it’s vital that you nurture yourself in order to replenish your resources.  Today marks the start of Self Care Week, and as I’m going through some difficult situations in my life right now that are outside of my control, it seems a particularly poignant time to take a step back and reassess my Self Care POA (plan of action). In doing so, it dawned on me that there are several important things to know about Self Care…

1)     Self care isn’t selfish

There is an enormous difference between looking after yourself and being selfish. Looking after yourself is not greedy, or narcissistic. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. By ensuring you are taking good care of yourself (physically and emotionally), means you are setting yourself up to be in a better position to look out for and care for others. The saying that “you can’t pour from an empty cup” is bang on the money, and if you’re at your absolute limit or unable to handle everything then you won’t be in a strong position to help others. Looking after yourself first and foremost, means that you can in turn look after others.  

2)     You are worthy of self care

“I don’t have time to look after myself”…
“I am too busy to focus on my wellbeing”…
“I can’t concentrate on me when I should be doing [insert anything that isn’t self care]”….

Wrong, wrong and wrong. For many of us, accepting and knowing our worth can be a struggle. But I’m here to tell you that YOU ARE WORTHY OF SELF CARE. Learn what you need, not just to function, but to flourish. For once, (and then twice, and then continuously), you deserve to put yourself first and explore your own personal journey with wellbeing. You owe it to your ‘self’ and to yourself. 

3)     You have the right to set clear boundaries

Healthy boundaries create healthy relationships, and having healthy boundaries means ‘knowing and understanding what your limits are’. Setting and sustaining boundaries is a skill, and can be a challenging concept in regular day to day life. But by setting good boundaries, you identify your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual limits. Take some time to consider what you can tolerate and accept, and what makes you uncomfortable or stressed. And then cast the fear aside! We often find ourselves feeling guilty for speaking up or for saying no to someone, and we can find ourselves believing that we ‘should be able to cope’ or say ‘yes because I should’ even when you’re feeling exhausted and drained. Boundaries aren’t just a sign of a healthy relationship; they’re a sign of self-respect. So give yourself permission to set boundaries, and to work to preserve them. 

4)     Self care is not a one-time deal

Self care is not a one-off thing that you can simply tick off the list. Done. Self care is the constant repetition of many tiny habits and activities, which together soothe your soul and enable you to operate at your optimum ability. And the best way to do this is to incorporate tiny self-care habits in to your every day lifestyle. Regularly include a little bit of self TLC in to your daily routine, and you will soon begin to notice the extra love and attention you’re giving to your mind, body and soul.  

5)     Your self-care plan is unique to YOU

Your self-care plan is personal and unique to you. Different things will work for different people, but what’s important is that you are able to identify what works for YOU. Whether it’s walking outdoors and feeling the grass beneath your feet, or picking up a paintbrush and creating a work of art, or switching off your mobile phone for two hours and having a digital-detox – I urge you to identify what makes YOU happy and then try to dedicate some time for it. You don’t have to share your self-care plan with others, and if you’re low on time it doesn’t have to be a time-consuming task (there are many quick and effective ways of doing something for yourself), but work out what restores your emotional and physical balance… and do more of it!

Charity Account Manager, Erika, 33, is passionate about the importance of mental health and wellbeing, and has been living with PTSD and anxiety since 2015.

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