- Tina Smith
Self Care – Take a moment
There are many articles and much information about the importance of self-care and its benefit to our mental health. We take time and expend energy on our love ones but often neglect ourselves. Self-care however, is not a luxury but a necessity.
If you are like me you probably read these articles and think to yourself that it all makes perfect sense to you in the moment and that you will make the suggestions part of your routine. Then you do little or nothing about it.
I write this having just returned from a paced walk in a lovely area near my house whilst listening to a favourite playlist and having a calming cup of chamomile tea on my return, which has lifted my mood enormously. Some days I tick those self-care boxes and some days I don’t, but I know that is absolutely OK.
Doing something is better than doing nothing and your little acts of self-care, like mine, are most probably not going to look like a lot of the pictures that accompany those aforementioned articles that you have read. You know the ones: relaxing in a hammock slung below a palm tree on a deserted beach somewhere exotic or striking a near impossible yoga pose whilst looking like a god or goddess. Let’s be real about this, some days putting yourself first is going to be about not getting dressed until lunch time on your day off, and that is OK too.
We are so busy in this life that we have created for ourselves, whatever yours is constructed of, it is easy to put others first and ourselves last. Self-care however does not have to look like the examples given above and does not have to take large chunks of your time that you somehow have to shoehorn into your day. You would be surprised what you can fit into 10 or 15 minutes but if you have more time than that to invest in yourself, then great!
Here is a list of little things that you can do to help yourself. I hope that they are things that you feel you can actually achieve and will look to add to your routines or habits. I know it is easy to procrastinate or even feel that we are not worthy of such actions. Start small and work up, or stay small, either is doing something positive for you and as a certain marketing slogan goes – you ARE worth it.
If you love music then taking some time out of your day to listen to something you love can really lift your mood. Even if you have the radio on often, the music is interrupted with news and adverts and can be background noise. So choose something purposefully and try to block out everything else and really immerse yourself in it. Dancing around the room is also a great mood lifter and if it gets your heart pumping faster it is also great exercise.
Take some time to focus on how you speak to yourself. Is your inner dialogue kind? Talk to yourself as you would to others, be kind not mean. This may seem like an effort to start with, especially if you are in the habit of self-criticising but with practice it will get easier, just like everything else in life. If you have to ‘fake it to make it’ then so be it. Eventually your subconscious will start to believe it. Stopping the use of certain words such as ‘should’ and replacing them with ‘could’ can also make a huge difference in your inner dialogue.
Create a new mantra for yourself. This one can follow on from kind self-talk but can be more specific. Your mantra could be, ‘I am worthy’ or ‘I do deserve to be loved’ or absolutely anything else that you want to focus on. Your mantra will work especially well if you repeat it out loud to yourself in the mirror whilst looking yourself directly in the eyes.
This is a bit of a buzz word these days but absolutely rightly so. When you start to practise mindfulness you appreciate what you have so much more and that leads to gratitude. All you need to do is be in the moment, ignore any distractions and focus on something that you might usually not be so aware of. Examples of this could be: children laughing, a bird singing, how the leaves start to appear on the trees in the spring, how the sunlight streams through your window or dances with shadows. It might be focusing on your breathing and how that happens automatically without you having to think about it, or the simple yet amazing fact that you wake up every morning to a world of possibilities. The list is endless.
Being a hypnotherapist this is, of course, one of my favourites. We are often in a state of hypnosis, possibly several times a day. It is purely a state of focused attention and reduced peripheral awareness which can enable you to be more suggestible, which is why hypnotherapy can be so effective. It is possible to learn self-hypnosis and just lying in a comfortable position and focusing on your breathing and relaxing the muscles in your body from head to toe – which is one of the ways to enter into hypnosis – can aid relaxation and ward off stress.
Yes I know what I said earlier about yoga but it is extremely beneficial for lots of reasons. It is good for mood, posture, flexibility, being centred and meditating. You don’t have to be a yogi to try some easier positions and you don’t have to look like a god or goddess, you can just sling on a pair of shorts and an old tee. Have a look at some beginner poses on the internet or from a book, find a few you like and do them every morning before you get dressed. It won’t take long to do and you will be amazed at your increased flexibility.
Credit for this one goes to my son (one of those situations where in the Mother – Son relationship tables turn and the son becomes the teacher). It is important to be flexible in your attitude and in your relationships but sometimes putting your foot down and having something for yourself which is non-negotiable, is just as important.
Positive mental attitude
This follows on from mindfulness and gratitude. We can choose how we feel. This is often a very emotive statement in itself. This does not mean that we don’t have negative emotions like anger for example but if we choose to stay angry then that has a direct effect on our well-being. If we take control and choose to acknowledge that emotion and move on then we are less likely to get stuck in resentment, which can be very debilitating. Some people naturally have a more positive outlook on life, and obviously there are times in your life where it is easier to be positive but again it is something that you can practise until it comes more naturally to you. It is believed that this also has an impact on your health as highlighted in this article:
These are just a few suggestions to help you to focus on a bit of self-love, there are many more, and some you might already be focusing on. Look after yourselves, as I said earlier you are worth it and you are irreplaceable to some people. Take care, live, laugh, love and above all breathe deeply. You only live once!