Self-Care: A Beginner’s Guide

Self-Care: A Beginner’s Guide

What is self-care and why do we need it?

Picture the scene – it’s Monday evening and you’ve had a long day at work, or perhaps you have been at home keeping your little people alive and well. The energy levels are low, the dinner still has to be made, your child’s homework sits half-done on the kitchen table.

Before you can even contemplate sitting down and relaxing you have a list as long as your arm to complete. The to-do list seems never-ending and there’s never enough time in the day. Worse still, you know tomorrow will be the same…and the next day…and the next day!

I don’t know about you but I’m exhausted just reading that. In the modern world, we are all so busy trying to manage everything that we barely have a moment to take a breath and think about our own wellbeing. This is particularly true for parents. The needs of the children always come first.

But what if I told you that this doesn’t have to be the case, or at least not all the time? What if I told you that there is a way to make sure you are looking after your health and happiness and in the process becoming an even better parent? You don’t believe me, do you?

Fill your cup

While struggling with postnatal anxiety and depression after my eldest daughter was born, I came across the phrase “You can’t pour from an empty cup” and it has been my motto ever since.

You see, by letting our reserves of wellbeing run dry by putting everyone’s needs before our own, we burn out, lose patience and cannot meet the needs of those around us. Self-care is so vitally important and yet usually one of the first things to go when children are born.

“Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” 

Eleanor Brownn

Why is self-care important?

When we take time to nourish our bodies and our minds properly, we can reap many benefits such as:

  • Feel more rested and peaceful – do I need to explain this one?
  • Improved immune system – it is well-documented that stress, lack of sleep and poor diet all lower our immune systems drastically. By taking time to lower stress levels and take care of yourself you can reduce your likelihood of getting sick
  • More productive – learning to say no to things help you to focus on those things that are most important. By giving yourself time and space by pushing back on those less important things, you are better able to concentrate on the things that will be most beneficial for you right now
  • Improved self-esteem and confidence – by taking time to focus on your needs you are sending a strong message to your subconscious that you are important, that you matter. Focusing on being good to yourself will not only make you feel great physically, but it quietens any negative self-chatter by consistently demonstrating to yourself that you are worthy.
  • Better placed to help others – self-care can often feel selfish. When there is a mound of laundry to do, it can feel self-centred to go for a long soak in the bath. However, by taking time to replenish and relax you are better able to be compassionate towards the needs of others. You will feel less resentful and more in tune with those around you.

I’m so busy, how do I find time for self-care?

Self-care doesn’t have to mean taking a spa break every weekend. In fact, the best way to make sure you are getting enough time to replenish is by building small habits into your daily routine. This could mean starting your day with a ten-minute meditation or taking a walk outside on a nice day. For some ideas on how to incorporate self-care into your daily life download my free Five/Fifteen/Thirty Minute Self-Care Activities sheet to get you started.

5 ways to build a solid self-care routine

  1. Find some quiet time – this could mean going for a walk or taking a soak in the bath after the kids are in bed
  2. Work on improving your sleep – turn off electronic devices at least an hour before bed and create some sleep cues – things you do every evening before bed to get your brain ready for sleep. This could be a hot drink and a book or some lavender on your pillow.
  3. Eat well – a healthy diet plays a huge role in our mental health. Most of our happy hormone, serotonin, is produced in our gut. When we aren’t eating well, we aren’t feeling well.
  4. Get moving – any exercise at all will help boost your mood and flood your body with feel-good endorphins. A short walk, a spin class – whatever feels good for you!
  5. Get organised – by spending some time batch-cooking freezer meals or preparing the school uniforms for the week ahead in advance you can carve out some time midweek by making your routine a little less packed. See if you can enlist your partner or a family member to help out.

So there you have it…

  • By looking after yourself, you are allowing yourself to be a better parent/employee/boss/partner. Remember – you can’t pour from an empty cup!
  • You are worthy of this time. You might feel selfish but you deserve to feel calm and relaxed. Tell yourself this every day!
  • Subscribe to my mailing list for a free list of ideas to incorporate self-care into your daily routine. Remember – small, consistent habits will serve you better than big life changes.
  • Do you have your own tips for looking after yourself? Share them in the comments.
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