Change the way you view self-care

Sometimes the things we need most in life are the ones we have a resistance to.  I have definitely found this to be true with my own self-care journey.  I’ve always been good at looking after myself with good food and sleep, but can easily overlook my energy and emotional needs.  The last 6 years as a Mum have been the biggest learning curve of my life and I do believe that if I had had a better grasp of what self-care was and good habits in taking and making time for my own needs I would have found being a Mum much easier.

Focussing on my own self-care has been a total game changer for me over the last year and I wanted to share with you some of the beliefs and behaviours I had to reframe in order to accept self-care was something I needed more of.

Self-care takes a lot of time

Wrong!  It really doesn’t.  Start small.  5 minutes a day can make a real difference.  When I first came across self-care I was stuck in ‘busy’ mode and the thought of even 5 minutes to myself felt like too much (when in a state of stress we can have a really warped view on many things.) There are 1440 minutes in a day.  We probably spend on average 480 of those asleep (8 hours), which still leave 960 minutes.  It seems crazy that we can’t have 5 minutes totally for ourselves out of these 960 remaining minutes.  I started with 5 minutes of yoga each morning and now that has grown to lots of 5-10 minutes slots through the day of various things.

Overlooking my own needs

Very often when we have people to care for and other responsibilities we can forget about ourselves,  feeling it is more important to put everyone first.  I came across a quote “You can’t pour from an empty cup” and this made me stop and think.  We have to include ourselves in all that care we are giving out.  It is a bit like putting your own gas mask on first before helping someone else.  We have to know that we are important and to love and care for ourselves too.

Self-care is indulgent

Taking time out for me felt like a real luxury and I even felt guilty about it to start with. Feeling guilty for taking a bath,  reading a book, going to yoga etc.  I mean really, what was that all about?  I felt that when I had so much to do it stressed me even more thinking about stopping.  But all this belief did was cause me to burn out.  Self-care is not indulgent, it is essential.  If we do not take time out to stop, slow down and restore then we will make ourselves miserable and ill.  I started to see self-care as important as brushing my teeth every day. It seems crazy that in the beginning I have to ‘force’ myself to do these good things for myself, but once I started to see how much better I felt and that everything else still got done and was easier I began to enjoy it.

Focussing on getting the ‘to do’ list done

Oh my goodness! Even the thought of this exhausts me! I now realise how impossible this task is.  The to do list just keeps getting more and more added to it, so it can never be done.  Getting super clear on what is essential to do each day, week and month as well as adding self-care to my list has really helped me to relax about everything that needs to get done.  And because I’m now taking time for myself I have more energy to work on the’ to do’ list.  Obvious really, but not when you are stuck in stress mode.

People are not machines.  We are not built to be ‘on’ all the time.  That old phrase ‘burning the candle at both ends’ is very true. There comes a point when the two ends meet and ‘poof’ out goes your light and all your energy.

So if you were like me and anything you read about self-care made you think “yeah right, sounds great, but how is that is going to happen.” I’d say we are pretty similar and probably the type of people that need self-care the most.

So sit down with a cup of your favourite drink and enjoy 5 minutes to yourself and plan your next 5 minutes in.  Overtime this becomes a habit and you may even work up to an average of 1-2 hours a day like me and still get everything else done.  The wonder of having a full energy bank account!