It is now July and the first half of the year has come and gone.
This is the time we see many people being exhausted and frustration builds with many expectations for the year yet to be met.
In the midst of all this, why on earth should I care about self-care?
Hopefully, this little write-up propels you to reflect further on whether you need to make any changes to caring for yourself.
Interestingly, a counselling student in training asked me just the other day if self-care was a rhetorical concept. Well, I've had to learn it the hard way through multiple health scare incidents in the past. I was always busy going on overdrive for too long, meeting multiple demands pulling me different directions. So when I was thrown unexpected curve balls in my health, it was then that I had to take serious stock of my life a few years back and make major decisions on how I was going to do life differently.
But have you wondered why it's just so hard to put it into practice? Why do we place importance on just about everything and other people but often leave ourselves, to the last priority?
There are many reasons why and I'm here to advocate for how you can get started with the first step. Sometimes, taking action first is way more effective than waiting around to figure out the why, which answers may never come.
So don't delay, start with the first step today. Here are some of my own tried and tested tips on how to help yourself make it happen.
1) Decide to do this for yourself and yourself alone. Work/projects will always be there. Timing will often be complicated. So start in the present, one baby step at a time.
2) Commit to yourself to take special time off on special dates/milestones. It's often as simple as applying for leave ahead of time so the chances of you putting it off is low. And if for any reason, extenuating circumstances crop up and on you end up not being able to take that time of. It's OK. But, commit to rescheduling, instead of putting it off. It makes a big difference to your well-being when you make such a serious commitment to yourself. Your future self will really thank your present self.
3) Create a budget for this. Many people feel guilty about self-care because it may feel like it's a luxury. But if you park aside a allocated budget monthly for this, it will be much easier to spend that much needed money on yourself - investing into your biggest asset - YOU. Your health, your mental health, your rest, your peace, your worth, your thoughts, your soul, etc. They are all worth preserving and often it starts with REST and RECHARGE. Hence, if some money is needed to be spent, it is a need to be met, that will bring about great returns in the long-term if you see improved focus, reconnection with significant relationships, tuning in to the true desires of your heart and LIVING it out. Then again, self-care doesn't have to be very costly. Each one has different preferences, but don't let financial constraints put you off. Instead, tap into creativity to make things happen!
The internet is abundant with suggestions for self-care so I'll just provide a few of my own ideas if you need to get started:
- a nice warm shower, feeling the sensation of water falling on your skin, taking in the beauty of nature
- a slow long walk in the nearby park or a park you've never been to
- a meal/dessert of your choice, savouring every bite. Indulge yourself and let go of any guilt of decadent foods.
- making a cup of tea
- playing a game (physical or online) of your choice
- go for an outdoor activity of your choice
- watching a really funny show
- lying down and doing nothing,
- disconnecting from the Internet and gadgets
- preparing a simple meal for yourself from scratch
- singing out loud, wherever you are
- dance like no one's watching to music you really love and just let yourself go
- playing with your pet or someone else's pet
- going for your own individual therapy from time to time with a professional to safely process your private struggles and frustrations
4) DO IT. If you need more mini breaks during a particular season of busyness or particularly challenging phase, it simply means you actually need more self-care than you realise.
5) Don’t apologise for doing it. You owe no apology to anyone if you needed some time off to heal or recuperate. That text/email really can wait a bit more. If you start respecting your own space and time, others will learn to take the cue from you too. In this super speed fast-paced world, it really would do you wonders, if you actually paused from time to time, to do life at YOUR pace, which also means you're living at what's optimal for you. Rest is productive in the long-term, I promise you.
So there. I hope to have somewhat inspired you to look into caring for yourself more as I have resolved to do so for myself.
Written by: Serena In, PhD
Date: 23 July 2023