In this post, Penni Osborn shares with us her take on what self-care really is and what areas we can explore and/or improve, to achieve more of it.
“Self-care” is a term seen often in the media, but doesn’t seem to come with much of an explanation of what it actually is – other than the obligatory ‘hot bath and scented candles’ advice. Self-care is, in my opinion, about seeking out that which nurtures us physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, i.e. caring for the whole self. It’s the ongoing development of a decent, good enough relationship with the ‘self’. After all, it’s the only person we will have a life long relationship with!
Here are a few of my ideas of what self-care could be:-
Such an important self-care tool, but what are they? To understand boundaries, it can help to imagine ourselves as a house, with a garden. The garden has a fence and a gate, and all are welcome. However, once through the gate, they are on our private property and so we’re the boss! If our rules are challenged, out the gate they go. Or at least they would, if we knew and used our personal boundaries. We can generally sense when our boundaries are being crossed; we may feel irritated, imposed upon, indignant, resigned or even angry at other people’s behaviour. This is the time to decide what the boundary needs to be and to implement it – so very empowering!
We already do things daily that manage stress, without really giving them much thought, such as exercise, sleep and nutrition. Adding in meditation and other relaxation practices like deep breathing, time in nature, mindfulness, staying organized, avoiding avoidance (procrastination), managing time effectively, noticing people-pleasing urges and/or perfectionist tendencies or anything else that may help to reset the ‘fight or flight’ response can keep chronic stress at bay and so serve our self-care needs.
Spending time in nature to relieve stress
Essentially, our personal values are our unique guiding ‘truths’ that are fundamental to our wellbeing and happiness. Values can be things like family, solitude, creativity, having fun, financial security, animals, laughter, friendship, nature, spiritual connection, adventure, challenge, career…the list is pretty long! Our values give us meaning and purpose, goals to aim for and make us feel happy when we incorporate them into our lives.
Disputing Negative Self-Talk
It’s easy to buy into our negative self-talk because it can feel like it’s telling us the truth, however, is it really? We can notice when we are putting ourselves down, judging ourselves harshly and generally speaking to ourselves in a critical way, for example, “I’m so stupid! Why do I always get things wrong?” Well, does someone ever always get things wrong? Are other people stupid sometimes too? What about the things that went well and turned out ok? What have I learned? Would I say this to a friend who’s made a mistake? Turning the volume up on the compassionate voice is a great antidote to the negative one and is of course, very caring for the ‘self’.
For those affected by C.E.N (Childhood Emotional Neglect), low self-esteem, or who are experiencing a very difficult time, even the most basic self-care can feel like an impossible task. In these instances, counselling and therapy may help, through having someone on your side, giving you the space needed to work out what’s really going on and so find solutions, understanding and healing – the ultimate in self-care.