Self-Care, simple steps from A-Z
Self-Care, simple steps from A-Z
To say 2020 has been a strange year is an understatement, resilience is something we have needed in spades, this is why self care is essential now more than ever.
Counsellor Lucy McIvor knows only too well how many people have been affected by the global pandemic and decided to put together an A to Z of self-care for everybody who needs to give themselves a little TLC as we head towards 2021.
Take a look at the list below and note any changes you feel you could make. Notice the difference you feel once implementing the change, this is the most effective way of sustaining a new habit.
Affirmations are a great technique to inspire change. Take a look at some, and print out the ones that resonate with you the most. Remember to keep them somewhere where you will see them.
Saying No can be difficult, we can feel like we are letting others down. Learning to listen to our own wants and needs first, is a great way to then have energy to give to others without feeling burnout.
Compliment (Yourself and others)
Learn to receive compliments, you don't have to agree but thank the person for their kind words. If you bat away a compliment, you're far less likely to receive compliments from that person again, thus starting a negative spiral.
Learn to give compliments too, this can be the greatest gift you can give. A compliment can be remembered for the rest of somebody's life.
Being dehydrated can have a negative effect on your mood. Drinking water can actually increase energy and reduce fatigue.
It will be no surprise to see, maintaining a balanced diet on this list. Our bodies need sufficient nutrients to survive. Our food choices affect our mood, our overall physical health and wellbeing.
Take time out to be with your friends, and do something you enjoy. Laughter increases the activity of antibodies in the body, helping destroy viruses and tumor cells.
When we feel in a rut it is easy to focus on all of the negative things going on, and in fact we become hyper vigilant to these. Practising gratitude helps us rebalance the positive aspects in our lives. Attach this new habit to a previous habit you already do daily, such as brushing your teeth. You could keep this in a journal too.
Hobbies are a great way to boost self esteem, we are able to recognise we are good at something when we enjoy it. Make time for you to pursue the fun things in life. Make yourself a priority. Your happiness matters too.
Intercept your thoughts
Don't believe everything you think. Your thoughts are not facts. Sometimes we can get stuck in a pattern of accepting what we think is true. Try to challenge these with perspectives from others.
Aside from talking, journalling is one of the best ways to release thoughts and emotions from our minds. This can improve sleep and creativity. If you are feeling overwhelmed, journalling can create clarity. You can also notice triggers or patterns of behaviour from regularly writing down your day.
Working out your triggers enables you to act more effectively and feel more in control when feeling intense emotions. Create a list of ways to help yourself when feeling a certain way, using things that resonate with you the most. You can refer back to this when feeling overwhelmed.
Learn new skills
Not only can this stave off boredom but you increase the density of the myelin in your brain (white matter protecting nerve cells) when practising new skills, which in turn helps you learn even more.
Learning to still your mind has huge benefits of being able to control your emotions. Like anything this is a practised skill, aim for little and often and work your way up. Whenever you notice your mind wandering, without judgement bring yourself back to the moment
Notice own strengths and achievements
Low self esteem can have a huge impact upon your mood. You could be putting yourself down without even realising it. Pay attention to your thoughts. What language do you talk to yourself in? Do you berate yourself regularly? Would you say these things to a friend? Make a list of all of the things you have achieved and continue to achieve, no matter how small. These could change daily based on the challenges you face.
Organise time off
Having time off is essential. Being busy can act as a coping strategy for you, but no one can stay busy forever, this will lead to burnout. Instead gradually allow yourself a break, this could feel foreign initially, so allow short breaks regularly. Creating a more healthy work/life balance enables us to enjoy life too. As the saying goes “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”.
Puzzles are a fantastic activity when it feels like the world is falling apart, as you are literally putting something back together. They are a fantastic activity to feel a sense of achieving something. Puzzles are a great way of bringing you back into the moment.
Giving yourself time to be still is essential. Turn off all background noise and take time to just 'be'. Believe it or not we are actually more productive when we slow down.
Take time to enjoy reading something you are interested in. Life is too short to persevere with a book you are not enjoying. Reading reduces stress by up to 68% and is also a great way to bring yourself back to the present.
Switch it off
We live in a 24/7 world, with smartphones/screens providing almost all we could possibly need. However this need to constantly be 'on' was not how humans were designed to live. Smartphones are often the first thing we see in the morning and the last thing we see at night. What effect is this having on our mental health?
There have been many studies pointing to the correlation between the increased usage of smart phones and screens and depression. If you want to decrease your usage start by introducing small new habits such as no phone at the table at dinner time or charging your phone in another room overnight.
Talk it out
As the saying goes, 'A problem shared is a problem halved' and there’s no doubt about it. Talking and being really listened to helps organise our thoughts, therefore helping to gain clarity. We also challenge our own thoughts when listening to someone else’s perspective.
Use your things
Don't save things ‘for best’. Use your favourite duvet cover, PJ's and bubble bath. Use the special crockery. Wear your favourite clothes and cook your favourite meals. Today is special enough!
Visit healthcare professionals
Looking after your health is a way of showing yourself you care. Book yourself in for regular sight and dental checks. Listen to your body, when you need expert help book it. You only have one body, look after yourself.
When feeling despair, hygiene can take a back seat. However having a bath can improve your mood. In a German study, participants with depression reported a boost in mood after soaking in a 40C bath for 30 minutes. There are many other ways to create relaxation during a bath, including using essential salts and oils such as lavender or chamomile. Having a warm bath before bed increases your bodies temperature, this makes it easier to fall asleep.
Managing your expectations can lead to an increased sense of achievement. Many of us set our bar so high, it would be impossible to achieve, leaving us with an increased sense of failure.
Have a look at what you are expecting from yourself. Ask yourself 'is this realistic?' 'Would I expect someone else to achieve this?'
If the answer to any of these questions is no, use the SMART model to manage your goals and expectations.
Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic Time bound.
Yoga has many benefits some of which are well known but did you know yoga can be used for relieving migraines, improving fertility, and reducing the symptoms of a hangover?
Stretching releases endorphins into the body creating that ‘feel good’ feeling we all crave. Loosening your muscles relieves tension from your body, this means you also achieve a deeper sleep which in turn aids more energy.
Sleep is incredibly important, not only to give your body a rest but also for your mind. While we sleep our brains are processing emotions from the day, filing them away to allow space for a new day.
If sleep is disturbed our brains are not able to perform this task. This is why we are left feeling groggy the next day.
Recommendations are to achieve 8 hours of sleep a night. Do you manage this? Ask yourself how you could adapt your lifestyle to change this.
Self-care is important - but if you do feel that it is not something you can do alone, we are here for you…..please do get in touch if you need us.
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About the Centre
The Centre for Integral Health was started in 2013 by director Ben Calder after studying Integral theory since 2011 and over 10 years of professional practice of kinesiology and Bowen fascia Release Technique, coupled with the desire to explore the application of the Integral Model in relation to health.read more