In my recent blog ‘Self-Care – 5 ways to take better care of you,’ I shared five self-care strategies to help you reduce stress and manage your well-being. In this follow up article, I explore five more. As we continue to navigate a path through the upheaval and uncertainties of Covid 19, it’s vital that we have habits and routines that support us.
Self-care rituals allow us to settle into a space of self-compassion, whilst also resourcing us to face life’s curveballs. This year, I’ve referred to the extra attention I’m giving to my health and wellness as Self-Care 2.0, the 2020 upgrade.
When the world outside is a little crazy, we find balance by looking inward and connecting with our inner stillness. I’ve leaned heavily on my spiritual practice this year. Meditation, prayer, reflection, spiritual reading, yoga have been my touchstones. They are all avenues that help me tune into my inner wisdom and higher consciousness. If you have any kind of spiritual or personal development practice, the events of 2020 is what you’ve been practicing for!
At a fundamental level, all spiritual practices and self-care rituals encourage us to be quiet, to silence the noise of the external world, so we can connect with the peace of our inner world. I view my well-being through the prism of mind, body and spirit and making the time to be still allows me to quieten my chattering mind and connect with my spirit that always soothes and nourishes.
If looking in is about mind and spirit, moving, being active is essential for the well-being of the body. We are designed for motion, but like so many people, I’ve been far more static this year. My waistline is proof of it. I’ve clothes that are now a little too snug and my belt has moved out a notch. My gym has been closed, but even when it was open, I’d gotten out of the routine of attending.
My weekly yoga classes stopped back in March. I do try to get out for walks, but our dog Cara, my walking buddy, is now fifteen and is not able to go the same distances or at the same pace. To my list of excuses, I’m now adding winter, the dark evenings and the urge to hibernate. I have kept up my morning yoga practice, but I know my body is craving resistance training. At the same time, I’m not interested in beating myself up. Self-criticism is not part of my Self-Care 2.0 operating system (see point 5 below.) 2020 has been a challenging year. It’s about surviving not thriving. I know how to get fit, I did it before, I’ll do it again.
It’s all too easy to be overwhelmed by 24 hours of news selling fear and anxiety and to be sucked into the echo chamber of (anti) social media. Not everyone or everything merits our time, attention or energy.
Just as I try to make informed choices about what I eat, I apply the same consciousness when it comes to what my mind consumes. Fuelling mind and spirit is about connecting with our sources of inspiration. Books will always be top of my list. Curling up with a novel, or biography is my happy place. I’ve read several books on self-care this year, as I will immerse myself in topics that speak to my soul. Magazines, blogs, podcasts and music are also on the menu when it comes to fuelling my mind and spirit. These sources of inspiration remind me of higher truths, they restore my faith in humanity and how as people, we have the capacity to not just endure but also evolve.
As an introvert, I’m happy in my own company. I’m never by myself, I’m simply being with myself. I can find large crowds draining and I have a limited capacity for small talk. In the past, the sense of belonging that comes with being part of community has not been a priority for me. Seeing, even with Covid restrictions, how community supported my Dad and our family during his final weeks, reminded me of the importance of community, and how our lives are enriched by being part of something bigger than ourselves.
I’ve also learned to reach out for help and support. For the first time this summer, I had some counselling sessions, to assist me in dealing with my Dad’s death and my own cancer journey. I also had some coaching sessions and it was wonderful being the client again. I’ve learned that no matter how broad my shoulders sometimes we need a helping hand to carry the load. There are more people in our corners than we often realise and I’ve been amazed by people’s generosity and kindness when I’m open to receiving it.
I interpret this in two ways. Firstly, a break, a time for doing nothing. In my recent chat with Bibi Baskin on my podcast, she said that she factors time into her diary every day for simply doing nothing.
It reminded me of that great Italian phrase ‘dolce far niente,’ meaning ‘sweet doing nothing.’ One of the foundations of self-care is knowing that your worth is not tied to your productivity. Without the security blanket of our achievements, or having earned it, how do you treat yourself? We are allowed to have days when we can replace doing, earning and striving with being, receiving and allowing.
I also give myself a break when I make a mistake or when something doesn’t work out. Most of us run the habit of being tough on ourselves to the point of self-flagellation. Self-compassion and being gentle with ourselves are vital components of self-care. How can you be a little kinder on yourself over the next few weeks? Self-care is not selfish, it is the logical recognition that your own health and well-being matters. With my new operating system Self-Care 2.0, I’m working on making my self-care routines a habit, just like brushing my teeth. The reward is feeling less stressed, more rested and maybe even a little inspired. The late spiritual teacher and author Louise Hay in her renowned book ‘You can heal your life’ shares this wonderful affirmation that for me goes to the heart of self-care. And, on a daily basis, you have the freedom to conclude it as you see fit. ‘I love, value and appreciate myself so therefore today I’m…….’ How would you finish that sentence right now?
I hope you enjoyed this post and do read my previous self-care post here
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Best wishes and take care