The importance of self-care for a healthy mind and body
Do you ever feel like you’re running on empty and struggling to keep up with everything?
Is there never any time left for you?
Are you feeling overwhelmed with even the smallest of tasks?
Firstly, it’s important to know you’re not alone. Feeling stressed, overwhelmed and exhausted is common due to the growing pressures of everyday living. Not including the extra, and sometimes more difficult, life stressors that can pop up along the way.
Everyone’s life and situations are different, but with the growing number of emotional struggles experienced, it’s important to find effective and healthy ways to manage your stress to maintain a healthy well-being.
While stress is a common response to being overwhelmed, when it’s ongoing it can have a negative impact on your emotional and physical well-being.
Think about this car analogy:
A car doesn’t run without fuel or drive well if not regularly maintained, does it? The same applies to us.
If you use all the fuel (your energy) on your daily life pressures and demands, what are you doing to refuel? If your tank is low, you are likely to find it harder to cope with everything, especially if you are constantly running on low, if not on empty.
What is self-care and why is it important?
Self-care is vital in maintaining a healthy well-being and builds resilience for those unexpected life challenges.
There are many different ways you can increase resilience.
The Five key building blocks of resilience are:
- Practising some form of relaxation
- Getting plenty of sleep
- Eating well
- Engaging in supportive and positive relationships
If you do each of these five things regularly, you will be in a better position to manage and/or combat stressors.
You can’t always control what happens in your life, but you can control how well you take care of yourself.
How to manage stress and stop being overwhelmed
Taking time out for yourself and practising regular self-care is of great importance, yet can feel almost impossible to achieve sometimes.
With work and family commitments, I know how easy it is to get caught up with life and forget about yourself.
But it’s important to find your way back by keeping track of how you are doing, being mindful of your current situation/life stage and making changes where you can.
Remember, if you’re not looking after yourself, you are less likely to be available and/or able to care for others the way you want.
Above all, don’t beat yourself up. Be kind to yourself and give yourself the attention you deserve. You’re important too!
How do I create a self-care plan?
Start by asking yourself the following questions:
- Which stage of life am I currently in?
- What did I enjoy doing in the past, that I’m not doing now? (This might be before kids or at a different stage in your life)
- What am I passionate about?
- Which part of the day do I have the most energy? The least energy?
- At which times am I most stressed?
- In a typical week, where are the opportunities for ‘me-time’?
Your idea of downtime and/or relaxation might be different to someone else’s – and that’s okay! It’s your plan! By creating your own self-care toolkit, you’ll have a handy list of things that you like and what works for you.
Self-Care Strategies and Ideas
Here are some recommended self-care strategies and ideas that keep you functioning well and ready for life’s challenges:
Meditation – This creates a space even when you are time-poor. Consider trying apps such as ‘Smiling mind’ and ‘Headspace’, or book yourself in for a meditation class.
Practise Mindfulness – Try focusing your attention on one thing for a few moments, and imagine that you are seeing it for the first time. Be curious with your thoughts.
You can also:
- Have a cup of tea in the sun
- Lie down on your bed or couch and relax
- Take a long bath or shower
- Spend time with non-judgemental and supportive friends or family
- Join a book club
- Join a social group
- Attend a yoga or pilates class, or buy a DVD and do it at home
- Join a sports team, such as netball or soccer
- Join a dance class
- Listen to your favourite soundtrack and dance around the living room
- Create special playlists for different moods
- Explore and listen to various podcasts until you find some favourites
- Jump on the kids’ trampoline
- Go for a walk – either by yourself or ask someone to join you
- Have a massage
- Walk the dog
- Go swimming
- Go to the park
- Walk along the beach
- Organise a weekend away
- Eat healthy food
- Take a nap
- Investigate into a new hobby
- Read your favourite book or one recommended by friends or family
- Treat yourself to a manicure or pedicure
- Go shopping
- Go for a walk outside in nature
- Take yourself out to lunch and/or for a coffee
- Do some sewing (or learn how!)
- Spend some time colouring in or drawing a picture
- Cook something special
- Go to a concert
- Play or learn a musical instrument
- Attend an art, painting or pottery class
- Do a crossword puzzle
- Watch a funny show/movie
- Create a vision board
- Do some gardening
- Practise gratitude
I hope you have been inspired by these ideas and found some to add to your self-care toolkit. While you may need to book ahead of time for the events, classes or workshops, you can still take some sort of action in the meantime e.g. buy a new outfit or stationery, or call a friend or family member to tell them about it!
Make your self-care list accessible
I recommend making your self-care plan easily accessible (i.e. on your fridge, pinboard, whiteboard etc) as it can be easy to forget what you enjoy or what helps you to feel good during stressful and overwhelming times.
Each time you review the list during those situations, consider how much time you have available and which activity will work best for you in that moment. The reality is; sometimes you might be time poor or low on energy, so it’s better to try something small, rather than nothing at all!
I recommend that you start slowly and try one thing at a time. Most of the time the hardest part is actually scheduling it in and showing up. There may never be a ‘right time’, so don’t wait for the right opportunity to appear. It can also be helpful to re-evaluate your time and needs on a regular basis.
If you’re still feeling overwhelmed and struggling to manage your stressors, feel free to contact me on 0404 032636 for a free 15 minute consultation.
Do you need Counselling Support?
If you need counselling support, contact Kylie Lepri for a FREE 15-minute phone call to discuss your situation and find out how she can help. Call us now on 0404 032636 or book your free phone call online.
Kylie Lepri is a registered Counsellor, Psychotherapist, Clinical Supervisor, and Training Consultant. Since 2003 she has helped individuals and couples work through life stressors, develop new goals and create better relationships. Get Kylie’s FREE ebook: 5 Proven Strategies to help manage stress today, by joining her newsletter here.