Over lunch with a group of friends recently, the conversation evolved naturally to our personal self-care needs. I must admit, I was saddened by the views put forward by the group, as, for most of them, self-care is perceived as a costly indulgence. There’s the belief that self-care is something that you seek externally, e.g. taking a trip to a luxury spa, or treating yourself to expensive, lavish goods that promise to transform your body or your life.
Life holds so many demands and pressures, and, unless we find ways of managing them, stress creeps in. When mental stress is left unchecked or unmonitored, it creates distress in the body and can even lead to significant health concerns. Often, it’s only when we are ill that – in a desperate attempt to recover our health – we seek ways of providing our body with this much-needed self-care.
Ideally, we should consider self-care as an essential preventative measure rather than something we only resort to when we’re overwhelmed and desperate. A lot of psychologists believe it’s crucial to have a holistic approach to self-care. They suggest we put strategies in place that will enhance wellbeing and promote healthy functioning in all areas of our lives: physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and social. Once we’ve taken steps to address our self-care needs, we’ll be more balanced and, as a result, better able to deal with life’s demands.
It helps if you can assess which areas of your life need more care and attention. Consider the following questions and identify ways you can implement the necessary changes to these areas of your life.
- Am I getting my five fruit and veg every day?
- Am I exercising daily?
- Am I hydrated?
- Am I getting enough, good quality sleep?
- What changes do I need to make to ensure the above?
- Would I benefit from a nice massage or a gentle hug?
- Do I engage in worthwhile activities that make me feel good or give me a sense of self-worth?
- Do I have someone I can talk to?
- What strategies do I have in place to help me process my emotions safely?
- What makes me feel good in life?
- Would I benefit from an open chat with a partner or a friend?
- Do I have a positive outlook on life?
- Do I have positive self-talk?
- Does my T.V. viewing leave me feeling happy or sad?
- Does what I read uplift me or deplete my energy?
- Do I partake in any new activities or activities that stimulate my brain?
- Would I benefit from doing a crossword puzzle or learning a new skill?
- Am I grounded and present in the now?
- Do I go with the flow in life?
- Do I trust in the process of life and living?
- Do I have a goal in life, or am I fulfilling a purpose?
- Would I benefit from meditation or developing spiritual practices?
- Do I engage in enough social activities?
- Do I have friends that share my interests?
- Are my friendships supportive and loving?
- Would I benefit from taking up a new hobby or joining a group?
When you apply the above to your life, you’re ensuring you’re meeting your specific self-care needs. Remember, we’re continually growing and evolving, so regularly revisit your self-care checklist to ensure you’re getting the self-care that’s right for you.
I love walks in the woods, followed by a long hot soak in the bath. What’s your preferred self-care plan?