It's #CarersWeek 7th -13th June, an awareness week dedicated to raising awareness of unpaid carers and the amazing work they do looking after their loved ones.
If you're looking after someone, you probably don't take much time for yourself to look after your own needs. Why not make it a priority this #CarersWeek by practicing some self-care?
Written by Chrissy Lungu
What is self-care?
Self-care is the practice of consciously doing something to improve your mental and physical wellbeing. There are many easy and effective ways of practising self-care.
As humans, we are conditioned to think that putting ourselves first is selfish. We tend to feel guilty for focusing on ourselves. But what we forget is that to take care of others we need to be in the right space. This means sometimes putting ourselves first.
The practise of self-care is all about making your mind and body feel better. It isn’t about strict regimes. It is about incorporating small movements into your everyday life that will enhance your wellbeing.
#1. Physical self-care
Physical self-care is all about how you take care of your body. Are you fuelling your body with the right things? Are you moving enough? Are you allowing yourself to rest? Self-care is all about consciousness and intention. Physical self-care is all about your intention to improve your physical state and to become aware of your existing practices.
Physical self-care includes practices of being mindful of what you put in your body. It’s about moving more because you want to, not because you have to. It’s about giving your body the right amount of time to rest and restore.
Things to think about:
Where has your food has come from and how it is going to nourish your body? Are you enjoying what you are eating or are you mindlessly eating whilst doing something else? Take the time to eat without distraction.
Are you feeling any aches and pains? Movement doesn’t have to intense, simply massaging an area of tension or a quick stretch or walk will give you what you need.
Are you getting enough sleep? Most adults need about 7-9 hours a night. Are you letting your body rest? Give yourself permission to rest when you need it. It’s not always easy to maximise your hours of sleep but you can rest your body throughout the day. This can be achieved by either putting your feet up and reading a book, listening to music, taking a nap or doing anything that you find therapeutic.
#2 Mental self-care
Mental self-care is all about being mindful of your mental state and reducing levels of stress and anxiety. It’s about consciously practising activities that will help you to declutter your mind and reduce stress.
When you’re constantly busy, worried, anxious and stressed, your mind becomes clouded. It’s easy to become overwhelmed when your mind is focused on multiple things.
It’s important to put aside time to unclog and refocus your mind. Two ways this can be done is by decluttering your mind and your space. This can take as little or as long as you like.
Things to think about:
Meditation _ Meditating doesn’t have to be long-winded. It can be as simple as meditating in the shower, during a walk or simple sat down and focusing on your breathing.
If you struggle to stay centred, there are so many free resources of guided meditations to help you clear your mind and relax. Doing so will relieve unnecessary stress, allowing you to free up mental space for more important things. Top Tip You can find free and quick guided meditations such as Mindful in Minutes and Mindful Meditations on Spotify which is also free to sign up to.
Space _ To declutter your mind, it is helpful to declutter your space. This doesn’t mean having a full-on spring clean. It can be anything from making your bed, organising your space, tidying or cleaning. Removing visual disruptions will enable you to see things more clearly as distractions will be eliminated. Freeing up your mental and physical space will help clear the cloud caused by stress and anxiety.
#3 Emotional self-care
Emotional self-care is all about taking care of your emotional wellbeing. It revolves around helping you let go of any emotional obstacles and challenges you are facing in your life. We all go through trials throughout our lives. But, some face more than others as well as facing the challenge of absorbing the obstacles of everyone around them. In these cases, it is important to recognise that, like mental self-care, before you can begin to help others manage their emotional obstacles, you need to face yours first.
Emotional self-care aims to help you let go of the things that are weighing you down and banish anything that no longer serves you.
A way of redistributing the weight on your mind is to adopt a stress management tool. One method of emotionally offloading is by keeping a journal. A journal is a space that allows you to make sense of your thoughts, to detangle worries that have manifested and grown.
Whether it’s daily, weekly, monthly. The way you journal is completely up to you. The process of reflective journaling is designed to help you face your problem, recognise where it’s come from and break it down. This makes the problem digestible and allows you to reduce its impact so that you can move on from it.
Take a further look at the process of reflective journaling at The Positive Planners.
Another way of redistributing the weight on your mind is by practising gratitude. Gratitude is the practice of seeing the positive aspects of your life. It is a process of being mindful and open to the awareness of your surroundings. The practice of gratitude is centred around being thankful.
One of the most effective ways to practice gratitude is by going on a gratitude walk. A gratitude walk involves being out in nature and taking the time to notice the things around you. The goal is to completely focus on the natural things around you. Notice colours, smells, sounds and textures. Notice the way they make you feel. What do they remind you of?
This process can be blended with a guided meditation or listening to music to clear your mind of distractions.
You now have the tools and techniques to begin your journey of self-care. Remember, self-care is all about intention and consciousness. Incorporate these practices into your life as and when you feel like it.
“Taking care of yourself doesn’t necessarily mean me first, it means me too! Become a priority in your life!”