A few weeks ago we talked about self-compassion and today it’s the more practical side, self-care.

Self-care just means taking care of your own physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. Yes, it means eating your vegies and exercising, but equally important is just taking time to do enjoyable things, to focus on what makes you happy, to remember that you need to be looked after just as much as all the other people in your life.

Don’t forget the oxygen mask principal – you can’t help anyone else if you haven’t first made sure you can breathe.

Here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Allocate time for yourself – if it’s hard for you to find time just for you, be systematic about it and schedule yourself some time in your diary. It could be as simple as ten minutes a day for a quick meditation, half an hour to read a good book or a good one-hour soak in the bath once a week. But once you’ve committed to it, don’t let anyone else take you away from your special time to unwind. Be as firm as you would be if you had an important work commitment.
  2. Write it down – sometimes it’s hard to think of enjoyable things to do. It’s not a bad idea to have a ‘go-to’ list of activities you could engage in when you’re feeling overwhelmed or out of sorts. Make a long list of things you love, whether it’s pampering yourself, going for a bushwalk, playing tennis or window shopping. Then when you find you have some free time you can choose something that fits your schedule and mood.
  3. Focus on yourself – when you are having your ‘me time’, try not to let other worries or other people distract you. This can be difficult if you’ve got a lot on your mind. But the best strategy is to acknowledge the worrying thoughts that intrude into your brain and gently redirect your thoughts to something pleasanter, reminding yourself that you’ll get back to the worries later. You might have to do this many times before you get good at it.
  4. Breathe – even if you’ve only got five minutes, some gentle slow-breathing exercises can help a lot. Try this app for help with slowing down your oxygen intake, or these exercises.
  5. Write down the good times – savouring is a really great way to enjoy the great things in your life. And spending some time with a pen and paper can help you focus and really meditate on what’s positive in your life.

Some more self care tips can be found here, here and here.