If you’re anything like me, time is precious.
Many of us are constantly on the go with day-to-day life, work, children, pets, and families or friends. Or you may be struggling with a lack of motivation or energy because your get up and go has got up and, well, vanished.
We’ve just navigated the New Year when you might have been gifted an opportunity to slow down after the festivities, taking time to focus on yourself. ‘What’s that?’ I hear you say.
Read closely—one word; self-care.
It’s easy to forget that taking care of ourselves is always essential.
Still, the reason this topic is hot right now is that there have been recent pieces in the media where sports professionals and celebrities have been publicly open and honest about putting clear, firm boundaries in place to help them stay on top of their mental health. Some have even given insight into what they do in terms of how self-care works for them.
If You Struggle With Self-Care, You’re Not Alone
But many people stumble when it comes to self-care, me included.
The word self-care sounds so simple; it runs off the tongue almost smoothly, without a care in the world (how ironic). It’s also a phrase mentioned a lot but not always easy to engage with.
Women from all walks of life struggle with it, but perhaps particularly those in the long term, lonely, loveless and disconnected relationships struggle more than most.
But why is that? Well, I’m here to tell you why and offer three tips that you can start integrating steps into your day-to-day life.
Self-Care For Who?
The number one reason women struggle with self-care is that they lose a sense of themselves.
We lose our essence while we should be looking after it.
Who is it that you’re actually supposed to be taking care of?
If you’ve been in a relationship for a while, you can lose yourself while trying to look out for others and putting yourself last – indeed, not first. And if you’re in a relationship with a difficult person, you can waste a lot of energy being vigilant about what that person needs and working out who they are so that you can figure out how you think you need to be for them.
Have you found yourself in a position where someone has asked you a seemingly ‘simple question’ that you’ve struggled to answer? Maybe they’ve asked you something like what’s your favourite colour, your favourite piece of music, or what hobbies you enjoy. Fair questions, yeah? But have you found yourself stunned, unable to answer because you can’t remember for a moment?
This isn’t uncommon. The reason you may struggle to remember what would seem to be a simple answer to a question about YOU is that you’ve spent so much time and energy looking after and taking care of the people around you that you’ve lost a sense of who you are, what you want, how you want to be treated and what you like. You can’t remember.
You’ve forgotten who you are, and you have gotten a little lost.
3 Ways to Look After You
So what would it mean to remember? What would it look like to look after the reclaimed you, put you first and implement self-care?
The Cambridge Dictionary defines self-care as:
The practice of doing activities that you enjoy or that are relaxing, especially in order to improve or avoid stress
Let’s delve into what that may look like with three ways that I hope will help you reconnect with your sense of self and take care of yourself simultaneously as you do that.
You deserve it.
1. Revisit Your Childhood Joys
Step back in time and remember what you enjoyed doing as a child. What did you do that brought you joy and made you happy? It might seem odd at first, but consider incorporating those things into your life today. Could you do the same literal thing, or would you need to alter it in some way to be more adult appropriate?
Let’s look at some common childhood pleasures. If you liked your mum or someone close to you brushing, washing, or plaiting your hair, and it brought you great comfort and joy, it was likely a time of connection, creativity and fun. Maybe it felt comforting and safe while at the same time you were being looked after.
So, how can you turn that into an adult experience? A trip to the hairdressers or even the salon to be pampered in some way connecting with touch and reconnecting with the care that you remembered as a child. Maybe you buy some essential oils and make your own pomades, homemade banana hair masks or experiment with hairpieces.
But it doesn’t have to be about hair and beauty. It could be a sport or an activity. It might be that you liked painting, pottery, ice skating, or trampolining.
Whatever is, how can you incorporate that in your life today as part of a self-care practice?
2. Listen to Your Intuition
There’s a lot of noise, the hustle and bustle and chaos in the world today, and this often causes a disconnect between who we appear to be on the outside and our inner self, who has a lot of wisdom and knowledge that we may not be in tune with. So, this is an opportunity to be listening to our intuition.
Think about this, a random but wonderful thought pops into your head, and you think, “Oh, I’d like to do this today.” It may be something as simple as going for a walk or meeting up with someone you haven’t seen in a while and who you’d like to spend time with or simply giving them a call.
Your inner voice acts as your conscience and tries to let you know something. Too often, we don’t hear, or even if we do, we ignore this inner voice. If you feel yourself yearning for something that feels that it will have a positive and nourishing impact, however small that is, act on it.
3. Put Judgements Aside
What’s your first reaction when you see others conduct self-care? Be honest.
When you see someone look after themselves in a way you currently don’t but want to, your reaction might signal projection. We project onto other people things that we struggle to do or accept about ourselves.
If you find yourself thinking, “Where do they find the time to do so much yoga?” or “They’re way focusing too much on their art class when they should be spending more time with the children!” there’s possibly a projection.
If you turned that around, and you can begin to think about what’s bothering you, it might, in fact, teach you something about yourself.
Have you received any messages from people in your life about what it means to spend time on yourself? Do you feel guilty or selfish about cherishing yourself? Or are you worried that you would be judged if you weren’t the perfect selfless mother?
How would it feel for you to be doing that art class? How would it feel for you to be doing that yoga class?
It might be an invitation for you to pay attention to what might nourish you, but you’re not allowing yourself to do because of the fear of judgement.
By considering the above three points, I invite you to be the child and think about what the child would like, really tune into your intuition and notice what it is that you might be projecting onto other people that is, in fact, an opportunity for you to change your self-care routine.
But most of all, enjoy!
Over To You
Are you practising self-care or are you too busy caring for others? If you want a safe space to explore how you can create a self-care practice, get in touch and book your first counselling appointment. I offer video sessions online via a secure platform. Coronavirus (COVID-19) doesn’t need to put your therapy sessions on pause.
Or call me today on 07535 864836.
Leave a comment below; I’d love to hear from you.
P.S. PASS IT ON
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© Sandra Harewood 2022
Soul Centred couples counsellor and coach Sandra Harewood specialises in working with couples and women with childhood wounding that impacts their adult relationships. Sandra provides a soulful space for her clients to explore creative solutions to their difficulties and create a great relationship.