Sometimes we can be so busy running ourselves ragged looking after everybody else that we don’t get a look in. Maybe it feels like you’re at a complete loss when it comes to meeting your own needs.
Sound familiar? I’ve heard this many times so I thought I’d write this post to share my thoughts on it. It’s one I personally struggled with too for a long time. If you’re wondering about this right now, you have a headstart on me. I didn’t even realise that I badly needed to nurture myself.
I used to think that self-care was about buying new clothes or reading magazines. I thought that I was nurturing myself by going on a hotel mini-break. It just wasn’t cutting it for me though. AND that strategy quickly got expensive!
The thing is self-care can look different for everyone. There’s no one right answer, but there’s a lot of confusion about what self-care really is, and what it isn’t.
If you’re wondering about what self-care is, don’t worry, a lot of women are in the same boat. Equally, if you are feeling bad that you might not have been doing it “right”, you’re off the hook. There’s not really a “right” way to do self-care, but it’s about making sure that whatever you choose meets your emotional, physical, spiritual and social needs.
It’s amazing how many of us forget to look after our own needs. We are often taught to be “good” girls, to nurture others and to put ourselves last. Or life gets in the way and we disconnect from what lights us up.
If you had a half an hour of “me time” right now what would you do? Your answer might change depending on what’s going on for you. If you’re exhausted, it might be a nap. It might be that you decide to finally get that haircut you’ve been promising yourself. Or maybe you’re craving time for yourself, out walking in nature.
You can have fun with this. Be playful. It’s not about what you feel you “should” do. You might decide to go on a dog-led walk and just see where you end up. Perhaps you’d like to visit that bookshop that’s been on your wishlist FOREVER. You might decide that from now on, Saturday mornings are sacrosanct and that you are going to listen to an audiobook or buy yourself fresh flowers (just because).
But there’s another side to self-care, and I think this is the one that often gets forgotten. We all love the idea of treating ourselves, but sometimes we forget about other aspects of our wellbeing.
We might neglect going to the dentist or the optician. We might get ourselves into serious debt and put off taking control of our money situations.
It could be that we never take a lunch break or that we push ourselves even when we’re feeling tired. Eating well, sleeping and resting when we need to are all aspects of self-care.
Embracing simplicity is a way of nurturing ourselves that is often overlooked.
Clearing the promotions tab of our gmail inbox is never going to sound as exciting as booking a facial or a massage, but it can really reduce overwhelm.
It might be that we decide to declutter so that our physical environment isn’t bringing us down.
What are YOUR favourite self-care practices to nurture yourself?
Realising that we deserve and NEED to nurture ourselves is a massive first step. Recognising that it can take many forms is another one. It might look like putting on our big girl pants and doing the grown up things that we’ve been putting on the long finger.
It could be that we finally realise it’s time to cut ties with toxic people and nurture healthy relationships.
Many of us are resistant to spending time nurturing ourselves. Pay attention to the gremlins in your head as they pop up with excuses. They might tell you that you haven’t enough time. You might notice yourself thinking that you are too busy.
You might compare yourself unfavourably to others who seem to be coping fine without needing a nap or whatever it is that your body and mind are crying out for. Yet we don’t know what is really going on for anyone else or how they are really feeling. Everyone is coping with the demands of their own lives and it can be easy to compare and find ourselves lacking. How about being kind to yourself and just listening and tuning into what you need right now instead of beating yourself up?
Think about past patterns. Have you ever been sick because you pushed yourself too hard? For some people, that manifests as being susceptible to every cold doing the rounds. For others, that can mean hitting burnout. In hindsight, what were the signs that you ignored? This is valuable information because it can help you to tune into your thoughts, feelings and behaviours and to be aware of your warning signs.
What are you going to commit to? Pick one thing you think would have a positive impact on your wellbeing. When we take the time for some me-time we signal to ourselves and others that we matter.
I’d love if you’d share in the comments how you got on.