What does it really mean to ‘take care of yourself’?
If you drink six glasses of water per day or go on a juice cleanse, does that mean you’re taking care of yourself?
If you go to a trendy fitness class or take up jogging, does that mean you’re taking care of yourself?
You’ve booked a holiday, that’s the ultimate form of self care, surely?
How about if you get at least seven hours of sleep a night, that must mean you’re looking after yourself?
You organise meet ups with your friends and family days out, have date nights, take courses, meet new people. You’re taking care of yourself – you’re living the dream…..right?
The thing is, the concept of self care is a lot more basic and simple that we give it credit for. But simple is not always easy and there are no quick fixes.
Looking after ourselves emotionally, on a deeper level, doesn’t cost money but it does require a shift in priorities.
So here are seven ways to practice self care – not by changing your world on the outside but by shifting something on the inside. And not by adding something into life, but by letting something go instead:
- Leave blank spaces in your day. Even if it’s just 10 minutes here or there. Don’t book in commitments back to back but leave yourself some wriggle room so you don’t feel like you’re always rushing around. I’m one of those people who gets up an hour before everyone else. It’s not easy and I have to drag myself up sometimes! But it’s absolutely worth it to make the start to my day more inviting and create space for things I find relaxing. It’s win/win because the more you look after yourself, the more valuable you are to others (the oxygen mask theory at work)
- Say no. To activities you won’t enjoy or can’t afford. To work projects for which you don’t have time or that don’t suit your strengths. To people who are asking for too much of your time or too much of your mind. Don’t apologise or feel guilty. A simple “I can’t give that the commitment it needs right now, I have too much on my plate” will suffice.
- Limit your online time. And when connected ensure you’re getting value back from the time you’re investing. Watch out for when information gathering turns to mindless scrolling. Or when inspiration turns to envy. If you need a full digital declutter, click here.
- Declutter your house. I was always going to slip this in somewhere! By intentionally owning only possessions which add true value to your life, you create space, save money and gain contentment. By letting go of bad organisational habits, you make way for good ones which save you time and stress every day.
- Let go of self limiting beliefs. Particularly those insidious ‘not enough’ ones which tell you you’re not (delete as appropriate) clever/witty/interesting/attractive/calm/classy/lovable enough. Let go of the stories your mind tells you about what happened in the past or what might happen in the future. Just decide that you’re doing you’re best, you don’t need to be perfect and you’re simply where you are now.
- Step back from conflict. If someone snaps at you, sends you a sharp email, cuts you up on the road or seems to ignore you – don’t get caught up in the negative emotional cycle. It’s one thing to be assertive but getting angry or upset is destructive to yourself and to the situation. Tell yourself that’s it’s not about you, then simply let it pass and focus on the next moment.
- Stop distracting yourself. Allow yourself to feel emotions and actively embrace them. Don’t be scared of them. If you numb them or run from them, they’ll force themselves out one way or another. If you’re brave and lean in, you’ll come out stronger.
If you feel tired, stressed, overwhelmed, mad or sad, you probably don’t need anything. You probably need to let something go instead.
With space and time to gather your thoughts, it will become clear what your true priorities are and you’ll have more energy to focus on them.
Thanks so much for reading!
A Tidy Mind