Our friends over at Sage and Sound in Woolloongabba are a Psychology and Coaching clinic. They have shared with us some tips for self care.
The five building blocks that underpin optimum mental health are to eat well, sleep enough, exercise, social interaction and do something just for you, on a daily basis.
Most people have a good idea of what the first four tasks involve, even if they find them difficult to do consistently. But the fifth (known to psychologists as ‘self-care’ and to IG as #treatyoself) is basically about being nice to yourself. Crafting your life to be enjoyable day to day, irrespective of deadlines, commitments and working towards your goals.
Self-care involves engaging in any activity where you want to be present in the moment, to savour the fun/pleasurable task at hand. Put simply, it makes you feel good. It may have no other purpose than to make you feel good, or it may be also be good for your health, relationships or career. If not, it doesn’t matter. What differentiates self-care from just another activity is enjoying it. Massages and holidays are great self-care too, but unsustainable as everyday activities for most of us.
Some day-to-day examples include…
If you enjoy being in your garden, get pleasure seeing flowers bloom, and like being outside, then gardening is self-care for you. But if gardening is just another chore to get done, it’s not self-care.
If you sit down with the intent to watch a particular show, and you’re engaged in the show and enjoying it (no matter how trashy, sometimes the trashier the better), then it’s self-care. But if you’re channel surfing because you’re bored, or to drown out worries about work, it’s not self-care.
If you love the process, take your time with food, and gain satisfaction from sharing your cooking with others, then its self-care. If you just have to put something on the table to fulfil your dinner obligations, it’s not.
Using products you enjoy, staying in a bit longer just to experience the sensation of water? Self-care. Another thing to rush through as you head to work? Not self-care.
Day-To-Day Self Care
Day to day self-care shouldn’t be hard to fit in, or require too much time, money or energy. Most importantly, self-care is meant to fill us up, not become another ‘to’do’. Basic self-care is about making time for activities that nourish you – playing with your children, doing crossword puzzles, listening to or playing music, journaling, drawing, meditation, playing sport, walking in nature, playing with your dog. As a simple rule, if you feel more energised afterwards, it counts!
For mental well-being you want to be ideally be engaging in at least one self-care activity a day. Generally, the more the better!
It also helps to have a variety of options, because when we do something daily it becomes a habit, which makes it harder to keep up the same levels of enjoyment and interest over time.
Short term, you can live without self-care (only for very demanding, urgent situations).
Long term, not scheduling time that’s just for you can lead to feelings of burnout, low self-esteem, feeling resentful towards others and increased levels of stress.
So when you wake up tomorrow, set an intention to do something that makes you feel good. Prioritise it, like any other area of wellbeing. Focus on your feelings as you do it, and afterwards, and you’ll begin to see why it’s in the top five things to do to take care of your health.