Self care - the art of looking after yourself before others
I am starting a series of blogs on a subject very personal to me. How do you look after yourself in times of heartbreak, challenge, difficulties and uncertainties? Recently something happened that has taken away everything I held true, through my values and world, I am left feeling such intense sadness and pain leaving me confused, lost and helpless. People who I love surround me, but I know in all reality the only person who can help me is myself, I have to find the strength and skills to start to heal by taking slow steps not knowing what will be around the next corner. I am sure you know the saying ‘time is a great healer’ … I do hope so.
I am now walking on a path I never ever imagined I would be on but now it is the only one available to me.
I am not going to detail my journey here (that’s for my own journal) but I will try to make sense of how to take the journey I need to take. And possibly some of my steps may also help others, for something good is possible to find in every situation.
I need to understand how I manage some of the conflicting inputs I get both from external sources and the worse ones…the voices in my head. I understand (logically) I am hard-wired to look for problems and think through different survival options because I am human meaning that whilst I have evolved there remains inside my brain a part that is about survival in times of threat.
So here goes … I hope something I will start to write over the coming weeks may in some small way help others.
What is the first thing that pops into your head when you think about self-care ? Some of us may say – necessary and important …. Others may say self-care – what’s that ? .. others may say how indulgent and self-centred to think I am so important I need to have some ‘self-care’ … Even as a counsellor I had 1½ feet in the last category because that is my job – looking after others and sometimes that means I push my own needs to one side
As I get older, I realise we all need to have self-care, if we can’t care for ourselves and recognise how we are feeling then in all reality other bits in our life will go wandering off and we will lose our balance. Normally it’s about maintaining that balance. What I have realised is that balance is so very necessary when it’s not a small gale that comes into your life but rather a tornado.
Why should we engage in self- care (shall we call it being kind to ourselves?) rather than put it to the bottom of our ‘to-do’ list
Researchers (namely the boffins who spend lots of time gathering evidence to show us what is correct and false or the jury is out) have shown people who ignore the benefits of self-care or who feel they don’t have time for themselves are more likely to:
· Be stressed
· Have less resilience
· Feel less compassion for others
· Have more challenging relationships
· Feel sad and down
· Do not have the ability to recognise their feelings and where they are coming from
· Do not place any value on themselves
· May find it difficult to have long term goals for themselves such as optimism and hope
That list makes me sad - as self care is free and all we have to do is work out how to do it...BUT the absolutely opposites is true namely you practice self-care - even in small and seemingly insignificant way - things seem more manageable (even if the problem is still there).
Whatever the situation, be it the pandemic or a significant loss (by the way the small ones are equally important) life events are likely to have had a significant impact on us and it could be argued actually now more than ever therefore, it is really important we think about self-care and how, even if it is a slow incrementable process, we can bring it into our lives.
Over the next 6 weeks I am going to look at self-care and its different aspects which can help you establish and maintain a better and more rewarding life balance.
The areas I will be looking at are:
I will be trying to do this through looking at the three areas of
These areas, if managed well, are likely to give us our best go at self-care and the benefits that flow from this concept.
I going to comment on a ‘skill’ in every blog and I will start with the value of journaling but that’s for next week
Until then I hope you get something out of this series of blogs and in some small way my journey brings a greater understanding into yours.