This year has been pretty meh in a nutshell, and I am certain that many of us, despite having had extra time at home, have not and are still not, looking after ourselves correctly.
There are obviously the group of people that used lockdown as an opportunity to get fit and healthy, physically and mentally, but I know from so many of you that I talk to that there is a big majority of us who didn't find that positive energy to put into something that productive!
Self care is so important. It helps with stress levels and anxiety, which for some people is through the roof since Covid hit us back in March. Self care can make you more productive, a positive mindset achieves positive results.
It is not always the cliché face pack and cucumbers on your eyes that is what I mean when I refer to self care, it is some changes to our daily routines and making time for those activities that can mean the difference between a healthy mind and a spiral into a dark place.
Here are some of my top tips to achieving self care.
This is always going to be the number one thing that everyone says we should make more time for... and with good reason. Not necessarily a 5k run everyday, but some form of exercise is shown to be so beneficial to your state of mind as well as your fitness levels. We all get so bogged down with work, those of us working from home find motivation some days at ridiculously low levels so it can feel a real chore just to get yourself out the front door for a walk. But believe me it is worth it. Pop it in your diary every day - block the time out so you have no excuse. Decline the meeting or the call, getting fresh air in your lungs and your heart rate up is just as important.
The thought of more Zoom calls makes many of us feel sick I know! Just because we over did it in Lockdown 1.0 shouldn't mean we neglect socialising all together now we are here. Giving time to your friends is a real benefit, but also letting your mind switch off from the what seems like mundane world surrounding you at home can help lift your spirits and clear you down headspace. Go on... get that Friday night party organised!
One of the best ways to switch off the mind and take yourself away is by reading a book. This can let your imagination go wild and give your brain time to rest from the stuff bringing you down in the everyday world. Podcasts are also great for this too. I regularly go to bed half an hour earlier so I can get some time to listen to a favourite podcast whilst I unwind. I always go for the comedy ones, but have recently found some really helpful Ted Talks and mindfulness series which allow me to broaden my knowledge and help me switch off.
Have a Bath
Ok ok, this seems too obvious, but a bath is found to be one of the most relaxing activities, especially after a long day. If you're like me you'll have achey shoulders and neck from hunching over your laptop too much, or joints from all that exercising ;-) but a bit of TLC can work wonders. I run a really hot bath one evening a week, pop on a face mask, a hair mask, podcast and a candle and try to float away the day. Always underestimated, make a bath once a week your priority, and don't forget your bath bomb!
A couple of years ago I had some help with mindfulness to help battle some anxiety that I was experiencing. One of the best tools to help you relax and combat this is meditation. I use an app every morning to remind me to take some time out for some breathing exercises. It can be as short as 2 or 3 minutes, and I always know that when I tell myself "I don't have time" or "I don't need to do it today" are most DEFINITELY the days that I need it the most. It can help ground you and starts the day off so well. I know it can be so hard to find time especially with noisy kids charging about, but I ask my hubby to take the kids down for their breakfast, I shut the door and zone out. Then awaken feeling more positive and ready to tackle the day... and the rice krispies all over the kitchen floor!
As part of my mindfulness journey I learnt the technique of writing a gratitude diary. I still try to write in this each night before I go to bed, or after my morning mediation. Doing it before bed increases your positive thoughts and can lead to a better nights sleep. It can also improve your self-esteem as you are recognising your own achievements as well as help reduce stress levels. I was taught that even something as simple as "I am grateful for my hot cup of tea"is something to be so thankful for, it doesn't have to be huge life achievements, just the things that you are grateful for today. Challenge yourself to write down 5 a day and you will be surprised by the results.
This is the most important one to me personally, because it's the one I find the hardest. My friends and family will always tell me that I don't put myself first and that I always say yes to people. This isn't a bad thing, but it can be when it means I don't have enough time to look after myself, or if by saying yes I can actually create stress for myself. It's ok to say no - if your friends don't understand then well frankly... they're not your friends!
Let me know your favourite self care tips, and remember to put yourself first.