Self-care involves looking after yourself, and carrying out any activity that will improve your well-being, whether it’s mentally, physically or emotionally. It helps maintain balance and keeps your well-being at an optimum functioning level, and decreases stress levels.
When we start to neglect ourselves, it becomes a breeding ground for mental and emotional exhaustion, which can lead to burnout or physical illness. Working in a high burnout profession as a mental health nurse, as well as caring for a father who has a chronic disability, I am all too familiar with burn out, and the importance of making self-care my priority.
When I feel exhaustion creeping up on me, I slow things down and devote more time to self-care activities. A good idea is to be mindful of your emotions and listen to your body, to recognise signs of burnout in its early stages. When I know that I am starting to fall behind in my self-care and getting too carried away in the daily pressures, I can start to feel resentful, irritable, stressed and fatigued. That’s when I know that I have to shift the focus back to myself.
It’s all too easy in our busy lifestyles to forget to take out time for ourselves, and give ourselves the care we deserve. This might start of small by with missing work breaks or staying back longer hours, and filling our days off with more work in the form of housework, and commitments that we may have towards family and friends. Then before you know it, it all builds up!
Having a good self care regime, avoids the build-up of stress, gives you time to relax and recover your strength. As with building any habit, it will only get easier with time, practice and a commitment to make your health and wellness a priority. It can be even as simple as only taking out a few minutes every day.
Here are some simple self-care strategies that I find really helpful:
Time-out: Stop, breathe and take some time out. Have some quiet time where you are allowed to do nothing but enjoy that quiet space in time. It’s healthy for your mind, and gives you time to rest and reflect, rather than always being on the go.
Spoil yourself: This one is my favourite. It’s good to take out time to spoil yourself every now and then, and remind yourself that you are also important and deserving of good things. This could be anything from getting a massage, a simple bubble bath, taking out time from your busy schedule to go on that day trip or holiday you’ve been wanting to go on. It’s okay to open that special bottle of wine you’ve been saving, or to go test drive your dream car.
Exercise: Regular exercise keeps us healthy. It’s also known to reduce the levels of stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline in our body. Your exercise regime will depend on your current health and fitness situation. I generally do at least 30 minutes of exercise per day.
Space out activities: Space things out, it’s okay if you can’t get everything done in that one day. Pace yourself, and you’ll realise you have more energy to get the things you need to get done.
Adequate sleep: Getting enough hours of restful sleep is needed to prevent feeling fatigued throughout the day. Catching up on a good night of sleep can minimise the build-up of stress, and gives your body time to recover.
Socialising: Going out and having a good laugh and some fun with friends or a friend can do wonders. Having a good heart –to-heart chat with friends, and building strong bonds will also improve your well-being.
Relaxation: Relaxation is so important, especially the busier our lives are becoming. If you find yourself getting stressed, doing some deep breathing exercises and mindfulness techniques can really help. Stopping for at least 5-10 minutes of meditation per day is also ideal.
All the best practicing! love Sonia, xox