Self care can mean different things to everyone - the term is mentioned a great deal, what I like to refer to, is self compassion and self love.
This is relevant to anyone in this world, however more so, for those of you in the helping professions, where the whole premise of work is about giving, serving, healing.
Ain't it the truth that the self is often forgotten in this equation?
I decided to sit down and write my 7 step self care manifesto.
Step 1: Stop criticising yourself.
There is a tremendous need to build self worth and value in ourselves because we often feel niggling doubts of 'not good enough.' We procrastinate when things would benefit us or we mistreat ourselves by not eating food that we know will make us feel good.
We are not perfect and nor do we need to be.
This is the first step in self caring and self compassion.
Having to 'be perfect' puts immense pressure on ourself and it prevents us from looking at areas of our lives that need soothing.
Step 2: Be gentle and patient with yourself.
Patience is something we often 'think' we have but in reality, we want what we want and we want it right now! So become aware of that feeling of wanting something to happen yesterday.
It takes time, lovely.
Think about how your garden grows from bleakness of winter to slowly sprouting shoots in spring. Take notice that there's no rush, there's no competition between the shoots, they all seek warmth and light, all at different paces, but they don't berate themselves or stop growing.
Step 3: Be kind to your mind.
Let's not blame ourselves for negative experiences - don't carry that blame around with you as extra baggage - easier said than done, but it's a good idea to have an awareness of being kinder to your mind.
How can we be kind to our mind?
By relaxing it, in meditation, by clearing and developing daily practices.
This allows your mind to take a small rest, with some deep breaths, close your eyes and release whatever tension you are carrying with you.
Meditation can be used here, but all we are suggesting is taking some time to find white space for your mind.
Setting the time aside is the first step, sitting still is the second step and repeating the mantra, So Hum Namah, or C-A-L-M, or Being Still.
Step 4: Praise yourself.
When we criticise ourselves, little by little, it takes over.
Criticism breaks down our inner spark but did you know that Praise builds it up.
When you reprimand yourself you belittle your own power.
Begin with little things - one of the best bits of advice I received about 6 years ago when I in that transnational phase of redundancy, a business coach invited me to keep a journal JUST FOR PRAISE. Things people said to me and things that I felt I had accomplished.
I began... when I read over what I wrote, it helps me remember the good stuff.
Allow yourself to accept this praise (from yourself).
Step 5: Loving yourself means "supporting yourself"
Reach out to friends/family and allow them to help you if feel you need it.
Asking for support is a strength.
Supporting yourself is about factoring in time for yourself, doing things that you love, that light you up and nurture your heart, soul and body.
Write a list of what you need from yourself, the small and the large and the in-between.
That's all you need to do for Step 5, believe that you deserve the support.
Step 6: Take care of your body.
This is a vital step to consider. One that I have always had a challenge with as I have had quite a inconsistent relationship with my body.
However, what I learn and, I take every day as a new day, is:-
it's crucial to acknowledge your body as the vessel to get you through life
Often we give our body a beating by not going to bed when it is urging us to, or ploughing on when we know we need to drink some water or even waiting to eat when we haven't eaten for ages. Maybe even, stuffing ourselves with food to numb a particular feeling.
Become aware of the steps you do to take care of your body.
Make a list, put it somewhere visible and start taking care.
(can you tell I love lists!)
Step 7: Right now, tell yourself 'I Love you.'
Don't wait for changes to happen to love yourself right now for whom you are.
Feeling dissatisfied with yourself eats away at your inner reserves.
Don't wait until 'everything' is right.
Use the energy you would normally reserve for criticism and negativity and fuel it into loving yourself right now, just as you are.