It’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow and a lot of people have strong feelings about that.
Personally I don’t go all out as I think it’s silly to confine your affections and treats for someone to one day. However I want to use the ‘holiday of love’ to highlight an important message – take some time to love and care for yourself. No matter if you’re single, dating, in a long term relationship or anything in between, self care is always a must. Of course it’s easy for me to say this and for you to read it and nod your head enthusiastically. The hard part often comes in putting it into practice.
What does self care really mean?
It’s the act of taking care of yourself, looking out for your own needs, and doing the things you need to do to maintain your physical and mental health as much as possible. As much as possible is important – sometimes you will need support from a GP, nurse, counsellor, or other health professional to get your mental or physical well being back on track, and that’s ok. The point of self care though is to minimise the amount this is needed by giving yourself the best foundation you can. For your physical health, self care can mean things like brushing your teeth, eating healthily, and washing your hands when needed. These are things most of us have been taught growing, up and are often second nature (though not always). Mental self care isn’t as widely talked about or taught, and is often the thing that suffers, especially when you’re going through a tough time.
Self care is giving yourself the same treatment you give your best friend.
Think of your best friend. She’s had a long week, and is feeling a bit stressed and tired. But she’s made it to the weekend, so you might take her out for a coffee to treat her and try to help her feel a bit better. Be your own best friend. You deserve nice things too – and you are the best person to give them to yourself. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy, you can do something small, but just allow yourself permission to indulge a little. It could be:
- a long bubble bath
- getting a magazine to read before bed
- making some tasty food for yourself
- doing a little retail therapy
- taking a walk and listening to your favourite music
It can be anything, as long as it makes you happy. Even something as simple as knowing when you need to take a break from trying to job hunt and just chilling with a book for a little while. When you’re under a lot of pressure looking after yourself is even more important. Don’t feel guilty for taking time off, or giving yourself a little me-time. It’s easy to feel bad when you’re not doing the things you think you should be doing, but actually you should be taking care of yourself first. If you’re feeling your best mentally and physically, you can attack your problems and tasks head on.
However you probably won’t feel at your best all the time, and that’s ok.
Self care is about recognising what your body and brain are telling you, and using that to help inform your actions and choices. If you’re going through a bad patch self care is making sure you’re taking care of yourself and giving yourself the best chance to feel better when you’re ready. When you get a cold you know what to do.Take some medicine, drink extra liquids or get some rest. When you’re burning out though do you take time to help yourself feel better? If you’re having a rough time with anxiety or feeling depressed it’s easy to attempt to keep going and try to shake it off. The problem is most of the time your problems aren’t going to disappear if you ignore them. Because we don’t like to talk about mental health as a society, we sweep things under the rug and the pile grows bigger and bigger, pushing through to the surface and making us unsteady.
Realise that you are working really hard, no matter what you’re doing.
Whether you’re working full time in an office, working on your passion project, or working to get out of bed every morning and face the day, you are still going and that is something to be proud of. Even if you want to make changes in your life, I’m sure that you can find one accomplishment, no matter how small it may seem, that you’ve achieved this week. Go on, think of one. Now write it down, and put it somewhere you can see it. Every time you’re feeling low or mad or tired out, try to remember that achievement, and all the others that you probably don’t give yourself enough credit for.
Self care when you’re feeling bad can be:
- writing a list of the things you’ve accomplished this week
- watching your favourite movie in bed
- having a shower and getting dressed to go for a short walk
- talking to a friend about how you’re feeling
If you’re feeling really bad, and think you may need some outside support talk to a GP or other health professional, or check out my support page which has links to websites and info around mental health and well-being. I also wrote a post a couple of years ago about How To Have a Good Relationship With Yourself which is worth checking out 🙂
The main thing to remember is to be gentle with yourself, and in the wise words of Donna Meagle and Tom Haverford from Parks and Rec: Treat. Yo. Self.