Tips to Help Make Self-Care a Priority
What is Self-Care?
“The practice of taking an active role in protecting one's own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.” - Oxford Languages
With levels of stress, anxiety and burnout on the rise we are becoming more aware of the importance of Self-Care. However, why is it that 'me time' often makes it to the bottom of the to-do list? There are 5 main reasons I've identified, see below:
"I don’t have time"
Why do we feel guilty when we put ourselves first? We need to stop with the guilt, imagine the analogy of a cup - when we participate in self-care we are filling up our cups, which in turn we can use to help fill others. But we can’t pour from an empty cup. So if you’re ever feeling guilty about taking time for self-care, know that its contributing to giving the world the best version of you.
Self-Care is about making time for the simple things that allow us to stay well, drinking enough water, cooking healthy food, exercising, etc. Do you feel that everyone else deserves your time more than you do? Just remember the analogy of the cup, without giving time for yourself you won’t have the capacity to provide for others.
Getting into a routine which includes self-care is so important, we all have different priorities and responsibilities so this will be very individual. If you have time to scroll through Instagram or watch Netflix then you have time for self-care. Maybe swap out that pre bedtime social media scroll for a bubble bath, or gentle yoga class.
Start by noticing where the bad habits creep in, just observe to begin with and take note of where you could swap any negative behaviours for activities that make you feel good.
"I can’t afford it"
Self-Care doesn’t have to be expensive, it’s not an extravagant pampering trip, as the definition above suggests self-care is about fulfilling basic human needs. It can take the form of meditation at the beginning of the day, or keeping yourself hydrated.
There might be a self-care activity which costs money, if finances are tight look where you could save to make this accessible. For example having your coffee at home each day instead of buying one before work would save approximately £12- £15 over a week. Or instead of buying lunch out at work take in a packed lunch a few days a week, or lift sharing with a friend could help save money on fuel. Take a moment to have a look at your bank statement and see if you could shift some pennies into the self-care pot.
Lack of self-care can lead to burn out, anxiety and stress, things we want to avoid. The phrase healthcare professionals often use… ‘prevention is better than cure’. If it gets to the point of burnout this may cost more in terms of having time off work and paying for treatment.
"I'm not good at it"
Whenever we start anything new it can be daunting. As humans we don't like to be bad at anything; it's our ego talking. Once you can learn to silence the ego, be brave and step out of the comfort zone, that's where the magic happens.
For this part of the blog I'll focus on two self-care activities in particular: Yoga and Mindfulness. Both can seem intimidating at first, concerns like Im not flexible enough or there's no way I can sit still and meditate - both excuses I used to tell myself! However, once you get over the ego, tell yourself I may not be great to start, but I'll improve - this growth mindset can help us learn.
Firstly I'll address 'I'm not flexible enough to practice yoga', something I hear all the time. Just like strength and balance, flexibility builds overtime with practice. Secondly, the benefits of improved flexibility go much further than the ability to touch your toes. Relieving tight muscles can alleviate aches and pains in the body, and when connective tissues become more flexible this can help improve posture.
Finding stillness and being present; not easy things to do - I've been trying for over 5 years and it's still work in progress. Again, know that it comes with practice, meditation can be built up over time, starting with just 1 minute and then increasing the duration when you're ready. We have been brought up in a world where being busy is praised, it's no wonder we find it hard to take a moment to pause. By recognising the importance of stillness, taking a moment to acknowledge thoughts that come into the mind and then letting them go we help build mental strength.
Like anything, with enough practice you will get good at it, the hardest part is taking the first step, so why not join me for Movement & Mindfulness and be guided on the first 10 weeks of your Yoga & Mindfulness journey.
"I can’t commit"
Commitment takes work and determination, so committing to incorporating self-care into your daily routine isn't going to be easy. However, how good do you feel when the commitment leads to a positive habit in your life. Take my morning routine for example (exercise, meditation, journalling, affirmations & visitation), the first couple of weeks getting up an hour earlier to complete these activities was hard, so hard. However by week 3 it became part of my day, it was automatic and therefore easy to keep up, and made such a positive impact. Remember when you are starting a good habit or giving up a bad habit that the first couple of weeks are the hardest, it takes a lot of will power and support to get through but you will feel amazing at the end once you’ve conquered it.
On 20th September I will be running a 10 Week Programme: Movement & Mindfulness. I decided to make it this length of time so that students are able to build self-care into their routine, making it a habit, which will continue long after the programme ends.
Commitment is largely down to mindset, if we decide we want to do something and schedule in time this is often the biggest hurdle. My advice is to take small steps first, those small steps will help build confidence.
"I struggle to focus"
Self-Care often involves one task that takes our full attention. At some point over the past decade there has been a shift towards a desire to be ‘busy’ all of the time with an emphasis on multitasking. This unhealthy pattern seems to be continuing to the point where rest and down time are so limited that we find more and more people are experiencing burnout. We are so used to multitasking this can lead to a struggle to focus on one thing, however the ability to focus on one activity or task is much more productive.
The Psychologist Abraham Maslow stated
“The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness.”
I believe that when I made the shift to be more conscious about living life in the present my mental wellbeing significantly improved. One of the most effective ways to do this was via mediation - finding 5 minutes of stillness every morning to focus on the breath, finding a moment to pause.
I’d like to end with a poem from Nikki Banas, Shine from Within:
You’ve got to take care of yourself. And not just once in a while or only when you realise how desperately you need it, but every single day. Truly taking care of yourself means nourishing your mind, body, and spirit in a way that works for you. It means finding a balance within your everyday life that allows you to do the things you love. Taking care of yourself means finding peace amidst the busy days. It means nourishing yourself from within to be able to take on the world out there. "
I hope that after reading this blog you are able to move self-care to the top of you priority list!
If you'd like some help to do this join my 10 Week Programme Movement & Mindfulness, it will provide a framework to help you prioritise your wellbeing. Using practices of yoga and mindfulness I will help you make the shift from a place of stress and overwhelm to connection and calm. Find out more info here: www.katiejyoga.com/movementmindfulness