Why is it so difficult to look after ourselves? Often we can feel like looking after ourselves is putting our own needs first. We can feel incredibly guilty, putting ourselves before others. In reality, it is not putting our needs ahead of others, it is looking after ourselves as well as others.
We've all heard the saying “you can't pour from an empty glass”. Well, you can't look after your children to the best of your ability if you are stressed out, exhausted or tired. You can't be the best friend you could possibly be if you are worried or anxious. You can't be fully supportive of someone if your own reserves are running on empty. And this is why self care is so important, not just to us but to everyone around us.
Self care can come in many forms. If you're not used to taking time out for yourself, it's important to start with small achievable steps that can fit into your life and be repeated easily. Self care doesn't need to be scheduled into your week, but putting a regular time aside each day can really help to build a routine. Then self care can became a natural and comfortable thing to do. As time goes on and you become more self aware, it's easier to notice when you need self care and can take time out when needed.
Simple Steps to Self Care
My first recommendation is meditation. This is perfect to slot in to your morning or evening routine. I set my alarm ten minutes early and meditate quietly in my bedroom. There are lots of free apps available that take you through short guided meditations. I find this really calming and sets you up for the day. It can also help you become aware of how you carry stress, such as tension in the neck. To get started, why not try the apps Breathe, Calm or Headspace.
My second form of self care is a good cuppa. Or possibly a hot chocolate! I don't always have the time to meet friends at a coffee shop, though this comes highly recommended! However, just taking twenty minutes out of my day to sit quietly with a warming drink is my idea of heaven. This can easily be squeezed in once a week, even with the busiest of schedules. So put your phone to one side, pop the kettle on, and put your feet up! You can relax, reflect on your day and prepare yourself for whatever comes next.
Finally, some positive thinking. Every night before bed, myself and my daughter do what has become known as “thankful for”. We each take it in turns to say three things that we have been thankful for that day, and then one thing that we are looking forward to the following day. No matter how bad you feel your day has been, there is always something to be thankful for. This has been such a positive exercise for us both. It puts us in such a warm glowing mood just before going to bed – what's not to love?
Be the Best You
Incorporating these simple ideas into your daily routine can really help alleviate the guilt and make it a natural part of your day to day life. Sometimes the guilt will creep in and it helps to put it into perspective – sitting and having a nice cup of tea and reading a book for twenty minutes is ok. That pile of dirty dishes will still be sitting there when you finish, and you may feel more able to tackle them once you are rested and have taken some time out for yourself!
Looking after yourself is so important and helps you to be the best you. So if you want to put others first, try starting with a little self care.