A friend mentions one morning that she is going through a tough time. Work has been extra strenuous and she’s experiencing some trouble in her relationship with her partner, but she feels too tired and overwhelmed to deal with it. You spend the good part of an hour consoling her over tea, listening, offering gentle advice, and finally suggest that she takes a day off for herself, to regather her energy and to focus on a way forward with both her professional and personal challenges.
A month later you find yourself in a similar boat, you feel tired, unmotivated and seem to just be getting through each day. Did you offer yourself the same advice as you did your friend? Did you show yourself the same compassion and understanding and the take time out to re-evaluate what was causing your mental and physical drain? Self-care is an essential component of a happy and successful life which is often pushed aside. Yet without it, a person cannot experience physical, psychological and spiritual growth. Remember, in order to take care of those around you, you need to have the emotional, mental and physical resources to do so. Self-love or self-care is therefore not selfish, but the opportunity to fill your tank so that in turn you can fill others’ and have the energy and vitality you need to live a life aligned with what matters most to you. What have you done today, this week, this month, to show yourself some gentle self-care and compassion? If you struggle to set aside time for your wellbeing, follow these six simple steps to self-love and make you the top priority on your long to-do list.
Unlike our values which dictate the course of our actions and life’s purpose, our needs are those extrinsic factors which are essential to our wellbeing. They can be as simple as a healthy diet and sleep, yet without them, they can send our world, emotions, and physical and mental health into a tailspin. We often rely on others to fulfil our needs instead of taking responsibility for them. If you are using or relying on others to meet your needs, you may find you are wasting precious energy and resources. Unmet needs will also see you chasing wants which offer a glimmer of happiness, such as buying those expensive shoes or indulging in that chocolate cake, but can lead to self-sabotaging and addictive behaviour.
Tip: Is a need, such as physical exercise, crucial to your wellbeing but you struggle to fit in the time? Collaborate with those around you, such as your boss or partner, to help schedule in this much needed self-care time.
Self-care is not just about going for that once a month hour massage, it’s a holistic circle which must reach into every area of your life – mental, physical and spiritual.
As women, self-care is the foundation for a successful life as we are often filling so many roles. Start with taking baby steps and bring small activities into your day which bring you health and happiness.
Tip: Role-modelling self-care for your family is an excellent way to teach your children how to look after and take responsibility for their own needs and self-love.
Do you have any unfinished business, whether it’s an argument with a friend, that project you haven’t managed to finish or the clutter that hasn’t been sorted through in your home? Unfinished business not only occupies space in our psyche but can drain us of mental energy as well as we keep coming back to the issues until they are resolved. Set time aside to go through your unfinished business, incomplete goals or anything else that may be draining you mentally and tick them off your to-do list.
What gives you energy and what depletes it? Think about areas in your life where you are losing out on energy and personal resources. Think of a way to eliminate this or avoid it if possible, focusing instead on doing things that uplift you.
Set and enforce healthy boundaries and be consistent with their use. Say no to people, things or situations which will impact your mental wellbeing negatively or drain you of your energy and resources.
Treat yourself with the same, care, love and kindness you do others. Self-compassion is an essential tool which enables us to acknowledge personal pain, unhook from self-judgement and connect with others on a human level through empathy and understanding.
Making your well-being a priority doesn’t have to be time-consuming or complicated endeavour. As the new year approaches, take mindful action to incorporate acts of self-care in to your everyday life and experience new vitality and happiness, and greater wellbeing.