Self Care – How Well Do You Do It?
As a Counsellor and Life Coach, self care has always been very important to me and to the people I have supported (in a professional capacity).
Self care is something that I always advocate. However, self care can sometimes be misunderstood.
To gain some clarity on this topic, I refer to an article by Megha Pulianda (a Ph.D. student in counselling psychology at Texas Woman’s University). She states “Self-care is anything but a one-time act. It is a mindset and a process”.
A process indeed!
When I speak about self care to kids who are getting bullied at school, the key word that I emphasise is “habit”.
What does that mean?
It means that you should make self care a habit. It should not be a one off activity that temporarily uplifts you or relaxes you. It should be something that is ongoing and it should serve you long-term.
Let me share a personal example with you. I love training in combat sports. If I am working on a demanding project, just like most people, I will feel the effects of working long hours over a given period of time. Going to a mixed martial arts class after working on that project all day will definitely make me feel better. I will be energised after the training session. Here’s one question – should I only go to MMA training when I am working on a demanding task? Or, should I go on a regular basis, regardless of what type of workload I have on my plate?
The answer to that question is quite simple. If something is uplifting your mood, you should be engaging in it on a regular basis, regardless of how much you have on your plate.
So, how do you begin your self care routine?
Here are three suggestions:
- Find something that will minimise your chances of making excuses – let me share an example with you. A close friend of mine was having some mobility issues. Her GP suggested doing yoga. She had a relative who had been attending yoga classes at a wellness centre. She decided to join this relative in doing yoga. The wellness centre was almost one hour away from where my friend lived. She started off well, and was attending yoga classes three times a week. Eventually, the traveling got to her. She said “I have to do more than two hours of driving for just one hour of yoga”. She quit! My message to you is this – include something in your self care routine that will maximise your chances of ongoing involvement.
- Be clear on what’s important to you – in one of her articles, Dr Barbara Markway (psychologist) outlines seven types of self care activities. She lists them as spiritual, emotional, physical, social, mental, sensory, and pleasure. If you had to list these seven types in order of importance, what would your list look like? Please think about that. Your priorities will decide what type of self care activities would suit you most. I have mentioned earlier in this article that physical self care (MMA training) is what suits me most. If I was feeling drained after working hard on a project, and a friend asked me to meet for dinner, I would prioritise MMA training over meeting a friend for dinner. That is what I prefer. Have a look at the seven areas mentioned by Dr Markway, and pick which areas you can engage in, when it comes to self care. That will provide you with clarity.
- Have support – it can be very easy to lose momentum when you need self care the most. I once delivered a presentation on “Burn out” to a group of animal rescuers. These brave beings are often confronted with unimaginable animal cruelty. One of the concerns raised by that group was the loss of momentum, regarding self care. A young lady in the group said “Sometimes I just cannot be bothered with any of this. I just feel emotionally drained and physically tired. I wish I had someone who would motivate me to do more self care activities”. My emphatic suggestion to you is to reach out and ask for someone to hold you accountable in your self care routine. Ask them to be strict, and constantly remind you to engage in self care activities. If that person would like to join you in self care activities, that would be great! If not, let them support you in keeping the momentum.
Self care can be a complex subject for some people. If you feel that you are getting close to burn out or compassion fatigue, please seek professional help.
Quote: “You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.” Anonymous
I sincerely hope that you have gained insights into how you can begin to engage in self care.
Influencing you to your excellence,
PS: My Anti-Bullying Charity’s latest short video addresses how to handle overwhelming thoughts and feelings when you are getting bullied (https://bit.ly/2OsIxy9)