There’s a new term which gets thrown around a lot; “self care”. I think it’s fabulous in theory, but in practice I suspect it’s yet another thing to feel guilty about not doing perfectly, disguised as something nice. Like the rosy cheeked Aunty who comes round for an innocent cup of tea but spends the whole time pointing out that your nail polish is chipped, and reminding you of the time you vomited in her swimming pool when you were five.
It sounds nice. It looks nice. But is it really something we need to add to our already super-long list of things to do? Is it a worthwhile use of our previous time or is self care something which clever marketers have conjured up in order to make us purchase more bubble bath, fancier mindfulness journals and organic hemp infused yoga mats?
Never fear, friends. I have delved into the world of self care and after much research and consideration I can reveal the following self care methods, which are easy to fit into an already chocka-block life, and weave seamlessly into each other. No meditation necessary.
This is when you park your car a little further away, and walk. Or take the stairs instead of the lift. Or ride a bicycle to the coffee shop instead of driving, or take a break from online browsing and go on a mammoth afternoon shopping spree covering one end of town to the other, carrying an increasingly heavy load of bags as you go. Think of that as cardio and weights, no gym necessary.
Exercise creates endorphins, which are those happy little chemical messengers residing in your brain. When you nab those seemingly small opportunities for incidental exercise, you are self caring. And every little bit adds up.
Talking to a friend
Friends are like the counsellors we don’t have to pay. Talking to a friend is both cathartic and uplifting. I thoroughly recommend it. As they say, a problem shared is a problem halved. It’s amazing to talk through your problems with friends and work through them together.
In the interests of diversification, it’s also really nice to talk to our friends about wonderful things, future plans, things we’ve recently discovered and things we think are awesome. Part of self care is promoting positive thoughts and energy. Talking to your friends about the rad things in life helps to bring the aforementioned rad stuff to the forefront of your mind. Think of your mates as gorgeous walking gratitude journals. For rad-ness inspiration check out the Things That Are Rad Instagram page
Cleaning out your wardrobe
No need to go full Marie Kondo if that’s not your bag, but there’s a lot to be said for decluttering your space. Don’t keep things around unless you find them incredibly practical or incredibly beautiful (or both). If you haven’t worn it in a year, let it go. Send your unwanted clothes and knick-knacks to the op shop where they can fulfill their destiny and be a star feature of someone else’s home instead of gathering dust in yours.
When you care for your space, you are self caring. Taking the time to create an environment which you’ve put some love into, is also a way of putting some love into yourself. It will lift your mood, reduce stress and encourage wellbeing. Plus, when you know that you like and fit every item in your wardrobe it makes getting ready in the morning a whole lot easier!
Putting the good stuff in
Eating well is a form of self respect, and self care. It’s a way of saying thanks to your body for transporting you around all these years and letting you do all the things you love to do. When you take the time to read those ingredient labels, become more aware of the fuel you’re putting into your body, and start preparing food that makes you feel good, your mind and body will thank you.
There is a wealth of information available about nutrition and cooking. Find the way of eating that works for you and your body. You can choose to become a vegan, or go sugar free, or decide to become a professional cake decorator. It’s not about one way of eating being better than another (though, of course, some are) it’s about putting the time, effort and self love into making food choices which are right for you instead of grabbing what’s fast and easy without putting thought into it. Food fuels your body. If you fuel it with rubbish you’ll feel like rubbish.
Modern life can be challenging amirite? You’ve got work, friends, family, general adulting and trying to take Instagram worthy photos all the time to document your fabulousness. It can get tiring. Sometimes you have to say no.
I want you to know that it’s OK to cancel plans if you are tired, if you don’t feel 100% enthusiastic about it, or you have any niggly or unpleasant feelings that it just might not be safe or right for you. And by the same token, if you have a person in your life who lets you down all the time, or takes advantage of you, learn to say no to them too. Learn to protect your energy, and to prioritise things that bring joy and meaning to your life. Caring for your energy is caring for yourself in the most profound way possible.
So there you have it. Self care for the busy, the creative and the fabulous.