All about the mind

The Declaration of You Tour: Self-Care

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This post is part of The Declaration of You! Blog Lovin’ tour, which I’m participating in along with over 100 other creative bloggers. During the next several weeks, I’ll be posting on various topics that addressed in The Declaration of You!, and I’m so very excited to be a part of this larger community. This week’s theme is “Self-Care”.

This post could not have come at a better time for me. Self-care. To look after oneself. To care about oneself. More importantly, to put your own needs before those of others.

For some reason most of us, particularly women, are trained from an early age that thinking about yourself is a selfish thing. After all, why would you need to have some time out for yourself? How preposterous! Then there is the other side where if you think about yourself or try to take some time out to look after yourself, you are in some ways weak. Or unable to cope with what life is throwing at you.

The fact is though we are all human.

We are all vulnerable.

And we all need to look after ourselves first. Because only then can we be fully available to look after others.

I have however, been neglecting looking after myself. But after all my stress and finally realising I was burnt out, I have decided that enough is enough. And I have put some things into gear. There were things I was already doing. And there were others I probably should have been doing more of. Here are some of my ideas on self-care:

Exercise:

Looking after your physical health can do wonders for your mental health. Exercise is something I’ve been doing for a while now as my regular readers know and it’s probably the one thing that has masked my levels of burn out in some ways. But exercise doesn’t have to be lifting weights at the gym or running on the treadmill. It needs to be something you enjoy. I enjoy the gym. But I’ve also been mixing it up with going for bush walks and rock climbing. And I’m currently thinking of swimming once a week. Exercise for you might be yoga or body balance classes. Or going for a run in the park. Or walking your dogs. As long as you move your body, that’s the important thing!

Eating well:

I think when we are stressed most of us are likely to turn towards comfort foods. And while a few pieces of chocolate aren’t going to kill us, it is essential we don’t over-do it with the comfort food as it can only make us feel worse eventually.  I used to always be a stress eater but in the last year or so, I have improved. I still have dark chocolate at home and will indulge as a reward or will have my glass of red wine when I feel like I want some down time but I’m able to do it all in moderation. And that coupled with healthy eating for other meals is working well so far.

Pyjama Day:

Having a pyjama day once in a while is a good thing. It’s a day when you basically laze around at home in your pyjamas. The beauty of it is you feel relaxed and well, don’t get up to much and allow yourself to just be. And no, it does not mean you are being lazy. Unless of course, every day becomes pyjama day. Then you may have a problem. I do like the odd pyjama day and used to have one every couple of months. However this year, with being pretty busy socially, I only had one very recently. And I think personally, because I’d been doing so much, it didn’t completely do it for me.

Massages, Spas and hours of indulgence:

Now this is something I’m preaching but haven’t yet practised. But I am close to doing so. With all the stress and tension this year, plus working on strenght training, my muscles feel really tight particularly around my shoulders and neck. And a friend recently asked me if I’d ever had a massage and was shocked to learn that I hadn’t. I decided then to make use of a birthday gift I’d received earlier in the year: for a massage! I’ve booked it in for the first Sunday in July and I’m really looking forward to having someone dig deep into those tense muscles and help ease my physical tension.

Take a break:

It’s important to take a break. To get away from it all. Whether it’s for a weekend, a week or a month. Again, it’s something I hadn’t followed for a while which is probably also one of the reasons I’ve burnt out. I can’t remember the last proper holiday I’ve had. I took a week off in November last year but stayed home and had a lot of chores to catch up on. I’ve finally learnt my lesson and have booked myself to go away for a week in Nelson Bay. A holiday. Away from work. All by myself. Near the coast and the bush. I have about two more weeks to go not including this one. As my GP said to me last week, it’s important to spread those 4 weeks of annual leave across the year. Take a week off every few months to recharge and recuperate.

Do something you love:

Looking after yourself involves putting your needs ahead of others. So even if you are a parent, it means doing something you love. Whether it is going to a movie you enjoy or taking a relaxing bath or drinking a cuppa while curled up with a good book, do it! It’s for you and about you. For me, the problem has been that I’ve been doing too many things I love. And while it’s been great, I sometimes wonder whether it means I’m not completely processing them or enjoying them to the fullest. I don’t know yet. But I do know it’s important to make time and do these.

Do not bring work home:

Having a work-life balance is essential to your well-being. Trust me, you can do everything else mentioned here but if you continue to bring work home {assuming you work 40 hours outside of it}, you might as well kiss self-care good bye. I learnt the hard way last year. 2012 was filled with me bringing work home most of the time. I’d be filling my days seeing clients at work and bringing paperwork home for the weekend. Fun. Not! Consequently, I fell sick quite often in 2012 too. At the start of 2013 I vowed not to bring work home. And so far, almost 6 months later, I can safely say I’ve been sticking by that one rule. Sure it means I’ve had to stay back late at work some days but at least my weekends are not spent typing up reports at home!

Learning to say ‘No’:

This is a big one. And a difficult one for some. To say no to things. Why do we burn out? Why do we feel overwhelmed? Because more often than not, we are saying yes to things even when we are mentally and/or physically exhausted. So when it comes to looking after yourself, it is okay to say no. I finally did that the last two weeks. Mainly at work. I’ve said no to taking on new clients for a month. I want to be able to catch up on all my paperwork and discharge a few clients, recuperate on my holiday and only then take on new clients. It’s also in my clients’ best interests that I do that. Mind you, a recent ‘no’ didn’t go down too well with a couple of my colleagues but I stuck to my guns.

So there you go. Those are some things I am trying to do in an attempt to look after my own well-being.

If you start feeling guilty about indulging in self-care, remind yourself of this: unless you are well, you are of no help to others.

What do you do as part of your self-care routine?

Do share!

The Declaration of You will be published by North Light Craft Books this summer, with readers getting all the permission they’ve craved to step passionately into their lives, discover how they and their gifts are unique and uncover what they are meant to do! This post is part of The Declaration of You’s BlogLovin’ Tour, which I’m thrilled to participate in alongside over 100 other creative bloggers. Learn more — and join us! — by clicking here.

Until next time,

Cheers!!!

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