How often do I ask myself “how am I feeling today? Is there anything I need?” For so many of us the answer is “never”.
Life can be so busy. We often rush around struggling to cope with the stress of work, caring for children or maintaining relationships. We have so many roles to play and so many demands on our time and attention.
Sadly we can forget to take care of ourselves and listen to our own needs. So often this can lead to us feeling exhausted and run down and can cause us to experience symptoms of stress, anxiety or depression. We may find that we are lying awake at night with thoughts racing around our head, unable to sleep. We may struggle to drag ourselves from our beds in the morning and feel like we’re dreading the day ahead. At times it may seem as if we are being overwhelmed by our emotions and feel like we are unable to cope.
Learning to care for ourselves can be an important step in tackling issues like anxiety and depression. Research has shown that implementing regular self-care has a positive impact on mental health and well-being.
But what is self-care and how can we include self-care practises in our everyday life?
Self-care refers to any activity that takes care of our mental, emotional or physical needs. So this can range from doing simple things to relax such as taking time for a break, taking a walk or having a hot bath. It can involve taking note of our physical well-being and prioritising our sleep, nutrition etc. It can also include considering our wider needs in life such as in our relationships or careers.
Here are some simple tips to help us start to integrate self-care practices into our lives:
1. Start with the basics
Are we caring for ourselves physically? Getting the right amount of sleep, rest, healthy food and exercise can be challenging at times but is important for our mental and physical well-being. Start by making an honest assessment of how well we are doing in these areas and then see if there are any areas where we need to better care for ourselves. Remember to be realistic. Making a small change consistently can have a big effect over time.
2. Make a plan
It’s useful to have a clear idea about how and when you are going to implement self-care. Whether it’s taking a regular walk, seeing friends more often or having a break from work, it helps to make a specific plan. Making a vague commitment to yourself can often lead to not following through on intentions. Planning ahead makes it possible to anticipate any potential obstacles and take steps to manage these.
3. Tune in to feelings
Take a moment every now and then to check in with thoughts and emotions. To truly care for ourselves we need to be aware of what we are feeling and what our needs are in a given moment. We may feel angry about something and feel the need to express this. We may feel sad or anxious and feel the need to have a hug or maybe to cry. Often we just push through these feelings and get on with our everyday tasks. But this can lead to us storing up stress and tension. By connecting to our emotions more often and asking ourselves how we are feeling we have the chance to identify our needs and also release painful or negative feelings.
Remember, self-care is not about being selfish. Self-care is about treating yourself with as much love and attention as you would your friends and family. It often feels difficult to focus on our own needs when we have so many other responsibilities. But, remember, we can’t truly care for others unless we ourselves are mentally and physically healthy.
Make a change today.
Have a great week,
Newbridge, Co. Kildare
Portlaoise, Co. Laois