Kate Tilston talks to Frank about the importance of self-care. How many of you have really taken notice of what the air steward is saying during their safety demonstration?
Have you considered why they would suggest that in an emergency you should put your own oxygen mask on first before helping anyone else? Why would you do that? Because if you don’t, you won’t be in a position to help anybody else, that’s why!
So why is it, so many of us struggle with the notion that self-care is essential and not some luxury thing to be fitted into our life as an occasional treat?
Let’s dive into why this might be.
It’s interesting that when you talk to women about self-care and ask them what it means to them, the majority will come back with something physical such as visiting a spa for the day, having a facial, going for a massage. Occasionally clients will go a little further and say things like curling up with a good book and a glass of wine or a cup of tea. On the whole, it tends to be things that a) cost money, b) involve considerable organisation and c) involve an element of time – which can all be hard to come by.
If you were to sit down now and consider what self-care looks like to you, what would you come up with? I suspect your initial thoughts will be treat-based.
Now I’m not saying that treats aren’t nice and that we shouldn’t have them, far from it. BUT self-care is so much more than that. It’s looking after our mental well-being as well as our physical well-being. In order to function and have balance in our lives, we need to stop seeing it as selfish and view it as part of everyday life (think oxygen mask.)
When I’m working with clients, particularly women, and I ask them what their self-care routines are like, they usually laugh. Who has time in their day for self-care they ask? Why is it that we feel the need to put everyone else before ourselves? What have you done with that oxygen mask?
Finding time is often a stumbling block for people when they are looking to create a self-care routine. By the time we have worn the many hats of our multiple roles, we haven’t got the energy to do much else, have we?
What if we were to do it differently, though? What if we were to say “no” to a few more things? What could we then say “yes” to?
So, where do we start?
We are so unused to thinking about how to care for ourselves that it can be quite difficult to identify what we could do to make ourselves feel better and top up those energy levels.
Some of the things I now include in my self-care are:
Walking – Each day, I find time to get outside and walk. It might only be for a short while but once I’m outside and moving, it allows me to breathe and, it creates space in my head, even if it’s just ten minutes. Then I am able to return to the tasks at hand.
Reading – reading is my escapism, it’s a place where I can get away from my own thoughts and allow myself to just relax even if it’s just for 10-15 minutes. I read while I’m eating my lunch and it can make me feel like I’ve had a two-hour break.
A cuddle with my dog – I know that sounds daft, but I always start my day with 10 minutes, sat on the sofa with a cup of tea and my dog. Stroking an animal is really relaxing and it often feels like a meditation as my mind empties and I just concentrate on the moment.
Sitting outside –an obvious one but during my working day, between clients when I need a breather from Zoom, I make myself a cuppa and get outside. I make a conscious decision to listen to the sounds around me whether it’s birds or the train going past. I take some deep breaths and for 10 minutes just do nothing. Bliss.
Epsom salt baths – I love a bath! I know not everyone does but this is my self-care and a real treat for me is an afternoon or early evening bath. I put music on, read my book, and let the stresses and strains drain out of my body and disappear down the plughole.
None of these things cost money. Yes, they take up some time in the day but not much. By including these things regularly throughout my week, I keep my energy levels topped up, I don’t feel so overwhelmed and I am still in a position to support and help other people.
There are so many things that you could do.
My clients also do things like meditation, yoga, writing a journal, listening to the radio while they cook (obviously you need to enjoy cooking for this to be your self-care).
Self-care can be taking a regular exercise class, or spending time with friends who make you laugh right down to your toes. It’s all about finding your oxygen mask and what works for you and that won’t be the same for everyone.
Making time for you to re-energise and to top up is NOT selfish, it’s absolutely essential.