Self care for beginners
So many of my clients do a really good job of looking after other people, but they don't use those skills to care for themselves. They have reasons like 'I don't have time' or 'I have too many responsibilities' but taking care of yourself isn't selfish or neglectful of others, it's essential. There's a good reason that airlines advise you that, in an emergency, you should put your own oxygen mask on before your children's. It's because, if you care for yourself, you are in a better position to care for others.
Self-care doesn't necessarily mean spending a lot of money or time on yourself.
It involves anything you do to protect, maintain or improve your general sense of wellbeing, so sometimes it's just a matter of investing a few minutes here and there. But doing these things regularly is important, so taking care of yourself is best developed as a habit that you carry out automatically and routinely so you feel happier and healthier.
Daily Self-Care Checklist
It's important to take care of yourself daily. Adopt this basic self-care routine:
- Take a daily walk.
There are lots of advantages to this:
- It's a great time to think. Part of your mind is occupied with moving your legs and maintaining your balance. The rest of your brain is free to think creatively.
- 30 minutes of brisk walking burns about 150 calories so helps you stay (or become) a healthy weight
- Even a 10-minute daily walk can help reduce anxiety and depression. (Find out more about exercise and mood)
- Be kinder to yourself.
Stop and consider for a moment: how do you speak about yourself inside your thoughts? Do you often think critical and disapproving comments about yourself? Would you ever speak like that to someone else? Probably not, so be kinder to yourself, notice what goes right and congratulate yourself when you do well.
- Follow a healthy diet.
What you eat (and drink for that matter) is not just about physical health or weight, it affects your psychological and emotional wellbeing as well. A healthy diet can help you feel more alert, and less anxious. (Find out more about food and mood)
- Read each day.
I admit to being a bookworm by choice, but reading for pleasure is great for brain health. It can increase self-esteem, reduce symptoms of depression, help build better relationships with others, and reduce anxiety and stress Reading is also a great opportunity to learn something new. Imagine how much you could learn by reading 30 minutes each day. Over twenty years, that's about ninety forty-hour working weeks.
Your brain needs a rest from the internet, your smartphone, TV, tablets, and so on. The blue light they emit interferes with your sleep patterns and they offer constant stimulation. Give yourself a rest from these items every day, preferably just before you go to bed.
- Keep a 'good moments' diary.
Our attention and mental energies are often taken up by problem-solving and 'fire fighting', so we miss the positives or take them for granted. Each evening, take a moment to find one good thing that happened to you over the day, even if it's small like finding a parking space near the shop door when it's raining or having a chat with a friend. Writing these things down can be helpful; you can read through them and remind yourself of good feelings when you feel at the end of your tether.
Self-care is an important habit to develop. Being at your best is good for you and for everyone around you. And if you struggle to develop these habits, please get in touch. I can help.
Debbie Waller is a professional hypnotherapist, specialising in stress, anxiety and related issues. She also offers EMDR which is used for trauma, PTSD, phobias and OCD and publishes hypnotherapy-for-ibs.co.uk for those interested in using hypnotherapy to relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
Debbie owns a multi-accredited hypnotherapy school, Yorkshire Hypnotherapy Training and offers further training for qualified therapists via CPD Expert. She is the author of Their Worlds, Your Words, editor and contributor to the online magazine Hypnotherapy Training & Practitioner, and co-author of The Hypnotherapy Handbook.
For more information on any of these services, phone 01977 678593.
Researcher & drafter: Rachel Waller.