Self care. We are told all the time how important it is to practice self care. People like me constantly remind people that if you don’t put your own oxygen mask on first you can’t care for others. Whether you are a parent, a child caring for your parents or working in a caring profession keeping yourself physically and emotionally well is so important.
What is self care?
Put simply, self care is making sure you prioritise your needs, at least some of the time. It is that little nudge to make sure you are feeding your own soul and not just looking after everyone around you.
With Mothering Sunday just round the corner here in the UK it seemed like the perfect time to give you a little reminder, whether you are a mother or not, that putting yourself first sometimes is ok. Better than ok. It is essential!
How can you practise self care?
There are probably as many ways to practise self care as there are people. We are all different and find joy, and contentment in different things. We can, however, create a list of general rules, which many people seem to find nourishing.
Here are a few ideas
- Taking a bath
- Reading a book
- Going for a walk
- Meeting friends for a coffee
- Doing some exercise; running, dancing, golf, football…
- Creating; painting, crafting, knitting, pottery, woodwork…
- Watching a film
- the list goes on and on
You get the idea.
What you find relaxing and restorative might be another persons idea of hell.
You might love getting a pedicure and your best friend hates people touching her feet.
You might find colouring calming but your sister finds it infuriating.
That’s not just ok, that’s the point!
If we all found the same things nourishing we would all do them every day and we would all feel permanently cared for and content. The reason we crave doing these activities is because we don’t get the opportunity to do it as often as we would like. Many people, particularly women, but this is not exclusively a female issue, feel guilty when they take time to do something for themselves.
I know I did.
Particularly after I had my daughter. I felt that I should be doing everything she needed and I should be there for her 24/7 otherwise I wasn’t being a “good mum”.
Fortunately, and I do mean fortunately, I was seriously ill when she was only two years old and I was forced to spend six weeks convalescing miles away from her. At that point I was forced to hand over her care to others, primarily my amazing husband, because my parents were now having to care for me again.
The thought was unbearable. But the reality was liberating. I realised that she was cared for perfectly well. She was dressed, fed and entertained just as well as she would have been in my care (considerably better at that time as I could hardly walk!) and from then on I realised just how important it was to make sure I was fit and well, so that I could enjoy many more years caring for her.
That didn’t mean that I had to do everything all the time though. I started asking people to step in and take over, I began taking little pockets of time to care for myself. It felt great.
“In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it’s wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.”
Just after my convalescence a good friend bought me a copy of Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. It hadn’t long been out and she felt I should read it. I devoured it and it was a real life changing moment for me. That combined with my illness gave me the nudge I needed. I found the idea of someone just making a decision to leave everything behind and do what made her happy so inspiring. If you haven’t read it and you are struggling to make yourself a priority I recommend it.
So what will you do today to feed your soul?
How will your nurture yourself? Whatever you decide to do, feel no guilt. You deserve time out too. You deserve treats just as you know everyone around you does. You wouldn’t deprive your child or partner of something which brings them great happiness without good reason, so don’t deprive yourself.
Happy Mothers Day to all UK Mummies!
Happy International Women’s Day to all you inspirational women!
and Happy “you don’t need an excuse to treat yourself, you deserve it” Day to everyone!