Often, we only begin to think about self-care when we already feel exhausted, depressed or anxious. We wait until we hit rock bottom to start the long climb back. What if we decided to keep climbing, even when we already felt good? What if we focused on keeping our tanks as full of as much good stuff as possible, so that when bad days or external circumstances hit, we feel better able and better equipped to navigate the rough waters?
You want to always be putting more into your tank than life can take out. Here are five simple ways to do just that:
Tell yourself what you need to hear
Ideally, we would have family members, partners, colleagues and friends to tell us that we are worthy, beautiful, successful, talented or special. In reality, we are oftentimes disappointed. Either we don’t receive these messages as consistently as we would like, we don’t believe the words we hear, or we are met with criticism instead.
Telling yourself what you need to hear, whether it’s that you’re accomplished, kind, funny or loved is essential. If words feel uncomfortable, show yourself with actions. Get yourself a present, have a relaxing bath with candles, take time over your appearance or cook yourself a healthy meal. Love is a doing word, so actions are ideal, although affirmations have a way of resonating in our unconscious minds, and thus should be repeated.
A scary reality of adulthood is understanding that, whether you still have parents or not, your job is to parent yourself. You have to turn off the snooze button on your alarm and go to work, you have to get to bed early so you won’t be exhausted for the interview and you have to schedule your own dentist appointments.
Being a parent to yourself means taking responsibility for your own experience of life and your own choices and decisions. It doesn’t mean that you always make the right ones, or that you don’t make mistakes, but it does mean that you at least understand the reasoning as to why you decided to eat 15 chocolate muffins instead of eating a healthy dinner, or quitting your job because you had a bad day rather than looking at other opportunities.
Focus on your health
Even if you are feeling rubbish, you can make conscious choices that benefit your health. When we feel bad, our default is usually to reward ourselves with quick wins. Instant gratification may lead us to order a burger and chips even though we are trying to lose weight, or sit in front of the TV even though going to the gym assists with our depression.
Carving out consistent time for your physical wellbeing and mental health requires making smart decisions about food, exercise, sleep and recreation, as well as how you treat and talk to yourself. Even if you don’t feel happy with yourself at the moment, take the time to do something small FOR yourself, whether it’s putting on lipstick, getting out of bed and having a shower or calling a friend to talk about your concerns.
Find an outlet
As hard as we try, we are always going to encounter people and events that try our patience on a daily basis. Rather than pretending that we aren’t angry, sad, jealous or disappointed, we need to find a healthy outlet so that we can vent how we feel. Exercise is a great way to assist with depressive symptoms or as a release for anger. A kickboxing class may assist you, as might half an hour of yoga. Journaling and meditation work better for others. An active outlet, where you get to physically move, is usually most beneficial of all. It gets stagnant feelings on the move and out of your body.
When we hurt, there is a desire to retreat from others, to avoid being hurt further. In the short term, this can be necessary. In the long term, it is essential to stay connected to people who make you feel respected, validated and understood. People who are positive, warm and open should be sought out and you should make space for them often. Staying connected gives us an outlet for how we feel and what we think. We often realise we aren’t as alone as we think we are.
All my love