In the light of the strain on the NHS during the Covid pandemic, now more than ever, our attitude to self-care has been highlighted. What can we do to maintain our health and can we really ‘do’ self-care? Lack of regard for our own well-being is a major obstacle for many on the self-care journey if we are carers, givers or if our mental health is strained.
A wake-up call can come from being at rock bottom. A self-care epiphany in my 20s brought me to the realisation that I would do everything to help my beloved animals, but not me. My journey to well- being started with regular use of essential oils, meditation, vitamins and listening to my intuition. I began to take responsibility for my health instead of wishing for medicine to do it all for me. I say ‘began’ because it isn’t always easy!
I recommend starting with baby steps. Commit yourself to something that you can easily achieve. I like the saying, ‘a journey of 1,000 miles starts with one small step’. What do you think is achievable for you to do?
Self-care may range from the effort that someone with health problems has for taking a shower to the choice of food to fuel our body. Moderate exercise, getting out into nature and engaging in hobbies can all support our physical, mental and emotional well-being.
Noticing the clothes that we wear – are they fresh and clean? Can we replace old ones with new ones? Asking another person or organisation for help if we’re struggling can be a brave step or booking an appointment with the GP or therapist – and taking action to do it!
I appreciate life is complex and self-care can be a challenge so listening to our intuitive wise- self can help. We each have a unique journey to self-care. Meditation may calm the mind for one, but be torture for another!
It can be quite a journey realising it’s not selfish to take care of our needs. On aeroplanes, passengers are asked to put their oxygen masks on before they fit their children’s. Would you treat a best friend the way that you treat yourself? Can we cultivate some self-compassion if we are self-critical?
When we ‘take’ care of ourselves, it sends a message back to us that we are worthy. We then have more to give to others. When we give ourselves time and attention, we top up our well-being bank.
Doing Things Together
Self-care isn’t necessarily lone- care, it can be a group venture. Someone told me recently she dings a bell every time she drinks water and that reminds her colleagues to drink too. Doing things together builds good self- care habits which can also enrich relationships. It is OK to have needs; we aren’t superhuman robots. We would not expect a car to run without petrol or to let our battery on our phones go flat so give yourself a chance to plug in and find the ways to self-care that work for you.
Emma is a complementary holistic therapist, intuitive practitioner and Reiki teacher with 20+ years’ experience in this field. She is based at the Community Resource Centre in Gwersyllt.
Also see our other articles on well-being.