Monday, 7 August 2017

My Ultimate Self Care Guide.


My Ultimate Self Care Guide [My General Life]


I feel like there's been a bit of a boom in people talking about self care recently. Or maybe it's because the people I choose to surround myself with on social media also care about self care. Either way, it's great as it means people are focusing on it and, hopefully, making it more of a priority. Because self care should be a priority. Each and everyone of us, I believe, needs to invest in taking care of ourselves in order to give out to the world. But you see, it's not always as easy as that is it? 

I thought it might be helpful to put together my own little self care guide as it's something I deal with everyday in my "real life job" - I'm an occupational therapist and so our whole ethos is around supporting people to engage in their self-care, productivity and leisure occupations. 

But, you see, I've been reflecting on self-care a lot lately as I found myself a little blinkered and reductionist in my view of self care. Maybe I've been viewing it with too much of a clinical head on. Maybe I've just been too caught up within the limits of my role and so have strayed away from viewing self care from a more holistic angle. Because self care is so much more than just getting washed and dressed and feeding and watering yourself.


WHAT IS THE DEFINITION OF SELF CARE?



Many definitions of self care come from a medical or health care perspective. In 2013, the World Health Organisation defined self care as "the ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a health-care provider”. Which, if you ask me, seems to be very much focused on health, illness and disability. But, then again, it is the World Health Organisation, which, you know, has the role of looking out for health. So I kind of get that. 

On looking for other definitions of self care, many of them seem to focus on the prevention of illness or disability. I know the WHO definition touches on an individuals ability to cope with illness or disability, but so many people don't have a choice when it comes to their health. Don't get me wrong, I'm aware that there are many illnesses that are preventable and I'm all for health promotion around that. But some people really don't have any control over the development or onset of illness or disability; so on that vein, does that mean that they're not self caring? Or not self caring enough to prevent themselves from becoming unwell, even if it's entirely out of their control? I don't know about you, but that thought feels a little ableist to me.

I personally feel that self care is more holistic than that. Yes it's about promoting and maintaining health and wellbeing, but within that self care is restorative. It's deliberate. It's an experience. It's predominantly for you, but ultimately it's for others too, because without self care, how can we continue to give to others? We have to fill up the cup if we're going to continue sharing the wine (or other non alcoholic beverage). 

Yes, self care is about meeting your basic needs in terms of making sure you’re eating well, hydrating, keeping yourself clean, getting enough sleep and exercising, alongside other health promoting activities. But it’s also about those activities that are meaningful to you as an individual. That top your cup up. Be it having 5 minutes of quiet to enjoy a chapter in your favourite book, or taking a hot bath, or spending time with your best friend/partner/family. These activities aren’t necessarily considered “health promoting” in health care terms,  but they’re health promoting if they’re important to you. Self care will have different definitions for different people. We’re all unique and what constitutes self care for one may well be the total opposite of self care to another, the differences may be small, but there will surely be differences there.

It’s important to take some time to reflect on what self care means to you. Is self care a priority? Or is it an activity that often gets put on the backburner in favour of other “more important” tasks?

Why does that happen?

What stops you from engaging in self care?


WHAT IMPACTS ONES ABILITY TO SELF CARE?



I guess the answer is that a multitude of factors can impact on one’s ability to self care. Prioritising oneself can, at the best of times, be a really hard ask. Why? Because maybe you feel you don’t deserve it. Or maybe you feel so much pressure to keep pushing for that next life goal that you lose sight of the fact that your life goal is dependent on you being cared for and able to strive for it.

Self care doesn’t have to be a big task, but for some it can feel like climbing Mount Everest. Be it down to mental or physical health difficulties, socio-economic circumstances, difficulties with self esteem, lack of motivation, a lack of time or resources – the list could go on.

Whatever the barriers are, if improving self care is your goal then it’s important to think about why those barriers are stopping you and what you could do to start to break them down. Now that’s not an overnight job, and I’m aware it doesn’t make it feel any less like climbing Mount Everest. So I guess the next step is to think about how you can improve and promote self care in your life.


WHAT PROMOTES POSITIVE SELF CARE?



Self care in its essence, I feel, is a deliberate act. A deliberate act that you choose to try to take control over. To take ownership of, because no one can fully own it for you. Yes, others can help, but as we’ve discussed, self care is very much about what’s important to you.

So what promotes good self care? I think first and foremost it’s about taking responsibility for what you can contribute to your own self care. It doesn’t have to be something huge and it doesn’t have to be all singing and all dancing. Depending on your circumstances, it could even be the smallest of tasks. But the most important thing is that it’s yours. You own it and are responsible for it. It’s what you can do for you.

Once you start taking notice of your self care and taking responsibility for what you can, you notice how it can have a positive impact on your overall health and wellbeing. I think the most important thing is that you keep just topping up the cup, little by little, just doing what you can, when you can. I’ve been trying to focus more energy on self care of late, and what I’ve personally noticed is that the more I prioritise self care and make the time for it, the more I want to continue prioritising self care. And I’m honestly reaping the rewards; my mood is better and I’m more motivated and energised. I’m doing so much more, but I don’t feel even a little burnt out because I’m ensuring that I look after myself first.

If self care is a struggle for you at any time, once your basic needs are met turn your focus to simple, restorative activities, be it spending an extra half hour in bed, listening to your favourite song or taking a moment to enjoy a nice, hot cup of tea. I can’t reiterate enough that even the smallest of self care activities are worthwhile. Rome wasn’t built in a day, ya know? It was built a brick at a time.


SOME SELF CARE ADVICE.



Ask questions.
Start by asking yourself some basic questions:

  • Where do your values lie in relation to self care?
  • Why do you want to engage in more self care activities?
  • How can you align your values and needs with your current ability to engage?
Physically write the answers down if it’s helpful. Try to get yourself into the mindset where self care takes more of a priority.


Find what works.
I’ve mentioned this several times already throughout this post, but self care should be about what works for you. What’s meaningful for you. It’s great to try different or new things, but it’s also absolutely fine to stick with what you know. The main thing is that is works for you.


Routine.
Routine is your friend. It might feel effortful developing a new self care routine at first, but once you’ve taken the time to establish your own habits and routines, self care will feel much more a part of how you go about your day.

I’ve been using a habit tracker in my bullet journal to keep track of those activities that I want to ensure I’m taking regular time for, such as drinking 2 litres of water per day, exercising 3 times per week and doing my Peak brain training app every day.

Although try not to drastically change your entire routine overnight. Choosing one or two self care activities to focus on at a time will likely be more effective and help ensure that your routine is not only achievable, but sustainable too.


Say no.
Learn how to say no to things that don't serve your self care mission. Not always the easiest of tasks, but so important if you’re focusing your attention on yourself and prioritising your health and wellbeing. You don’t have to say no to everything, but at least consider the impact that a certain activity might have and if it has the possibility to be detrimental to your wellness.


Be deliberate.
Remember, self care is a deliberate act. One that you can take ownership and responsibility of. You hold it in the palm of your hand and you have the ability to help it flourish, even if you don’t fully realise it yet.


And the most important point of all : self care is not selfish. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.


SELF CARE IDEAS.


My Ultimate Self Care Guide [My General Life]

[don't forget, you can hover over this image to pin it - it'll help you to find this post whenever you need it!]

Remember, this is nowhere near an exhaustive list, just a few ideas to get you started and on your way to making self care more of a priority.

If you’ve made it to the end of this post – give yourself a pat on the back! I hope you’ve enjoyed some longer, more in depth content from me. If you found value in this post, I’d really appreciate it if you’d give it a little shout out or share on social media so we can spread the message and get more people focusing on improving their health and wellbeing through self care.

Let’s start a conversation:
Why not drop me a tweet @_hellojordan to let me know your definition of self care or to share some of your top self care tips.

2 comments:

  1. I'm trying to work on self-care at the moment. It's something I've not done well with in the past - for me it means eating healthy and taking time to exercise and relax.

    http://ohduckydarling.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That sounds like a great start Rosa, it's all about small, maintainable changes! Thanks so much for stopping by xx

      Delete

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my posts and leave a comment, it's very much appreciated!!

Jordan xx