Self care is really having its moment right now, isn’t it?
And so it should be. Mental health issues seem to be on the rise. People are leading the busiest, most complex lives that have ever been lived (and are subsequently burning out). Our world is saturated with craziness and we’re fully immersed in it, whether or not we want to be.
But the self care message is also getting a little bit confused.
Netflix binges, pizza nights and retail therapy, though satisfying at the time, don’t actually constitute proper self care.
Self care is less about quick fixes, and more about creating rituals, habits and changes that will bring a healthier balance to your life long-term.
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with indulging in a mood-boosting quick-fix when it’s required (for me, after living the stay-at-home mum life all day there’s nothing quite like smashing half a pepperoni pizza and a glass of Pepsi while catching up on Kimmy Schmidt, obviously). But these moments shouldn’t be given more credit than they’re due.
Quick-fixes provide a temporary (and sometimes needed!) rush of satisfaction.
Self care nurtures you and sets you up to be a little bit stronger and a little bit more content with your overall life.
Self care sounds amazing, right!?
If you’re in serious need of some self care ideas (and let’s be real – who isn’t?) here are some suggestions to get you started…
1. Routine is everything
Routines can do wonders to ground us and bring a sense of calm. Parenting experts stress the importance of routine for kids, but it’s no less important for us grown-ups! Our lives are crazy, and the more predictability we can gift ourselves with, the better. A pleasurable routine gives us something to look forward to when we don’t know what else the day will bring, as well as offering a sense of control. And no, “wake up, slam back a coffee, drive to work, get home, make a quick dinner, go to bed by 10, and repeat” does not constitute a self-caring routine. (I wrote a whole other post on self care tips for the full-time worker, by the way, if this sounds close to home!) A routine created with self care in mind offers little tid-bits of joy and calm amongst the craziness or mundaneness of our day-to-day.
The obvious choices for implementing a routine are first thing in the morning, or last thing at night. These are generally the times of day we have the most consistent control over. For a more in-depth look (and great tips) for implementing morning and/or night time routines, check out our previous posts:
- Start your day well with a morning routine (Tahlia, our resident health queen, takes us through her exact morning routine – one of our most popular posts ever!)
- Building a meaningful morning routine (tips for adding mindfulness to your morning)
- Three steps to a sweet sleep: a night-time routine for adults (tips for winding down and bringing calm to your evenings)
A routine doesn’t have to be a long, drawn-out list. The key is picking a small handful of habits that you can see yourself carrying through with on a daily basis, and that will make your routine feel good to you.
2. Embrace quiet
Our lives are noisy – and I don’t just mean audibly. There’s a LOT of outside stimulation in our environment. Gone are the days when a rotary phone and 6 TV channels were our only connection to the outside world (doesn’t it feel peaceful just imagining it!?) Now our smart phones, as handy as they are, can become totally overwhelming. Add in the stress of kids or partners, constant text messages from friends, a million TV viewing options and our never-ending to-do lists, and it’s no wonder our brains have trouble shutting down to sleep properly. We NEED pauses, we NEED quiet.
Taking some time each day to sit in the quiet, meditate, or pray will do wonders for us and our sense of inner peace. It may not be easy or comfortable to do at first, but as you get in the habit, it will become easier. And you will crave that quiet time!
For meditation, I love the Headspace app. It starts you off in small, manageable chunks of time and gradually increases. I find it extremely calming.
And for those insane days when bed time is my only chance for a bit of calm, I jump in the shower and switch off all the lights. Yep, I shower in the dark. Don’t knock it till you try it! My husband Chris teased me for it until he finally gave it a go himself and realized how soothing it is.
3. Find control at home
I’m a (mostly) stay-at-home/work-at-home mum, so this is a MUST for me. A chaotic home is not a home I can properly function in. I once tried explaining to Chris that the piles of clutter in our dining room hurt my soul. I wasn’t exaggerating. For me, a cluttered home = a cluttered brain. Maybe you feel this way too? But… our homes should be our safe havens!
Keeping my home in order is a form of self care (though the process of getting it clean and tidy doesn’t exactly feel self-caring!) And it wasn’t easy for me to get started. Chris and I were truly horrible house keepers for a long time. And we’re far from perfect now. But realizing that the state of my home affected my mental wellbeing was enough of a shove for me to get on top of it.
Years ago, I was at a real low point with my house keeping. As a new mum, I had let my home go. It started badly affecting me, until I eventually snapped and thought “I can’t live like this any more!” I eventually picked myself up and decided to commit to just clean the kitchen each night before bed. That was it, one small change. And it turned my life around, for real. One. Small. Change. If I could implement one change at my lowest point (and oh, it was low), you can too.
If you’re ready to get started on a home cleanliness overhaul, check out my tips for keeping a clean(er) house. They’re achievable and will help you start to set up good habits, which in turn will do wonders for your soul. Game changer!
4. Prioritize your physical health
Self care is holistic – we need to take care of our bodies as well as our minds. I’m not suggesting a sudden new rigorous exercise routine or a juice cleanse – unless that’s what you truly want to do! I am suggesting that you consider and value your body in the way you live. Drink more water. Get a full night’s sleep. Eat fruit and lots of vegetables (and less take-out). Get off your butt and out in the sunshine. Those are some starting points we could all get behind, right?
If this starting point is a little too basic, jump on Pinterest for some holistic health ideas. Research gut health. Try out essential oils. Give a vegetarian diet a go for 30 days. Train for a marathon. Challenge yourself and look for new ways to treat your body well.
4. Get to know yourself and your needs
I could lay out for you exactly what my self care rituals and practices are, but every human on the planet is wonderfully unique. What works for one won’t work for another. Other peoples’ ideas of self care might sound good in theory, but you know in your core what you actually need. So spend time really considering what self care should look like in your life. Analyse the way you’re living now, highlight problem areas that you would be better off without, and implement changes. If you know you need to take better care of yourself, don’t let lack of inspiration from my own list here stop you from finding something that works for you.
You deserve to feel better in your life than you currently do.
5. Care for others, too
Yep, there is such a thing as too much self care! While you want to keep your mind, body and soul in tip-top condition, too much inward focus isn’t good for you. You want to take care of yourself without becoming the person who doesn’t care about the people around her. Because as much as people need to be kind to themselves, they also need others to be kind to them. So look for opportunities to go the extra mile for friends and family when they need you. If you see someone struggling, offer yourself to them. Assist them in ways that might be difficult or inconvenient.
Self care can take time to establish, but will always be worth it.
There’s a reason it’s trending all over the internet right now!
But if you’re looking for a few little instant-happy quick fixes once in a while too, there’s no shame in that. Check out these 10 easy pick-me-ups that will brighten your day.