It feels like a bit of a buzzword, but it is so important for our wellbeing.
The problem is, it can be ridiculously hard to make it happen. Especially if you’re a parent. Especially at times like this when the world is scary and uncertain and it feels like there are a million and one more important things to deal with.
But it’s at times like this that it becomes even more important for us to make time for self care. We need to make sure we’re looking after ourselves so we have enough to give to look after other people.
It can be easier said than done though, so if you’re really not sure where to even begin with self care, here are 3 steps you can take to get you making time to really look after yourself and your needs.
1. Be mindful
I’ve written about mindfulness a few times before, and that’s because there are so many ways we can benefit from it.
When it comes to self care, mindfulness is a great place to start.
Because until you check in with yourself and work out what it is you truly need, you can’t do anything to get those needs met.
So find a place you can have a bit of peace and quiet for 5 or 10 minutes.
Then sit. And notice.
Notice the sounds you can hear, the things you can smell, the sensation of the ground beneath you.
Let go of all other thoughts and just focus on what you’re experiencing in that moment.
When we’re still like this we can start to become more aware of the needs that we have that might not be being met.
Even if it’s just to realise that you have a real need for a bit of peace and quiet each day, just to breathe.
2. Shift your focus to the positives
You’ve probably heard this before, but it’s worth repeating – what you focus on expands.
So if you’re always focusing on the negatives in life, all you’ll end up seeing is the bad stuff.
Our brains are naturally wired to see the bad, scary, dangerous things in the world. The thing is though, we notice and focus on these bad things, which strengthens the neural pathways in our brains for that sort of negative thinking, so we start noticing more and more bad things.
The only way to fight this is to create new, more productive neural pathways around positive thoughts.
I wrote about this the other day in a post about helping our children practice brave thinking.
When something good happens, or we feel good about something during the day, we need to soak it in. Really feel those good feelings. Even better if you can then replay it all in your mind later in the day, or as you’re falling asleep.
The more you notice all the joyful, good things around you and the more you think positive, happy thoughts, the more you’ll strengthen those neural pathways and the better you’ll start to feel.
It’s all about letting yourself feel joy. Reminding yourself that you are worth spending time on to experience those positive emotions.
3. Start to play again
Most of us think that play is just for children, but it really depends on your definition of ‘play’.
When you reframe how you think of play so that it simply means doing something that you enjoy, purely for the pleasure of doing it, then you realise how important it is for all of us.
We all learn so much through play, no matter how old we are. And doing something that we love, that we can fully immerse ourselves in so we get into a state of flow, or that lights us up inside is possibly the ultimate act of self care.
So once you’ve spent a bit of time mindfully noticing what you need more of, and started to train your brain to seek joy and all things good, look to see where you can fit playing into that.
If you’re feeling starved of creativity while staying at home with your family, then see how you can fit some art into your day. Get out the paints and sit with your children and make pictures for the sheer joy of creating something again.
Think about the things you used to enjoy when you were a child or a teenager and see how you can bring those things back into your life now.
If you always had your head in a book but never seem to have time to read these days, make a point of heading to bed with a novel instead of Netflix a few nights a week. It might be that you loved being part of a sports team as a teenager, in which case you could look and see if there’s a local adult team you could join and train with.
Self care doesn’t always come easily.
It takes time and effort and is all too easy to push to the bottom of your list of priorities.
But it is so, so important that we shuffle it back up to the top.
Just follow these 3 steps:
- Take time out to be mindful, to focus on what you’re feeling and experiencing, and to notice what it is that you need for yourself.
- Retrain your brain for joy and positivity, so you start looking out for these things and making them a priority.
- Play. Make time to do the things you enjoy, the things that light you up, for no reason other than the fact that they make you feel good.