Sustainable Self Care. ..by Andrea White
By now we have a good idea of what self care is and why we need it , but what many of us struggle with is making sure we do it, or when we start, how do we keep it up?
For me I realised long ago, it isn’t like a new years resolution or detox plan or a 30 day challenge.. Although these are good incentives they don’t get to the heart of what we need and the often wane very quickly. What we need is a longer process of identifying what we need, making positive changes to our life, accepting the things we can’t change and loving all the other bits!
So here are my top tips for getting your self care going, and sustaining a healthy self-care practice.
The first step of self care is awareness and identifying your needs, knowing what we need and when we need it, it is not sustainable just to pick random nice things to do if that are just covering over real problems.
- Sit and write down all the stresses and strains in your life, and the areas of your life that need more attention,self connection, physical body, mental or emotional health, creativity?
- Notice if you can see the root of these stresses and is that something you have to address over time,- financial health, relationships, lack of support or community?
- What would make your life easier, calm, content, joyous, energised or just less stressful.? Is it a tidy organised house? A calmer mind? Tools to help parenting challenges, ideas for healthier living? Write it all down, or have fun creating a mood board or mind map to look back on.
- See if you can carve some time to deal with some of the things you may have been avoiding. (do that tax return, pay those bills, go to dentist/ doctors, therapists, ask for help).
This part is really tough. Once we take a small step to address the things that are in our control, the next part is to sit with the things we can’t always change quickly or can’t change at all! Acceptance in the form of self-love and forgiveness can be very challenging.
- Can we love ourselves and our lives today? Not when we lose weight, or when we change jobs, we have the perfect home, or when we finish the next training. Not when we are calmer or stronger or more balanced?
- Self-acceptance is being accepting of ourselves and our lives and our past exactly as they are.
“Clearly recognizing what is happening inside us, and regarding what we see with an open, kind and loving heart, is what I call Radical Acceptance. If we are holding back from any part of our experience, if our heart shuts out any part of who we are and what we feel, we are fueling the fears and feelings of separation that sustain the trance of unworthiness. Radical Acceptance directly dismantles the very foundations of this trance.”Tara Brach- Radical Acceptance
Notice what we already have! Notice what we already do, the things we are happy for the love and support we already surrounded by.
- Build a grateful life brings abundance, it makes you realise what you have.
- Gratitude is one of those practices that brings a positive feedback into our lives, once you start your heart fills more!
- First thoughts of the day or last thoughts at night, name one thing you are grateful for. If you do nothing else for yourself in a day… do this!
Your self care practice should be honest, truthful and aligned with your own personal beliefs and values.
- From the practice of identifying your stresses, and also what your ideal life would look like, ask yourself, is this honest and aligned to ME?
- Write down all the things you really love doing, or what used to make you feel alive and connected. start with those things.
- Don’t try to start things you think you ‘should’ be doing, or the things that look good on paper and istaworld, if they are really in your own path, they will come organically.
- See the bigger picture too, where do I fit in, in the world and environment?
Learn to tune in when you are off balance, when you feel you are about to burn out, when your physical emotions or mental health is at risk.
- Build awareness into your life is the key to a sustainable self-care practice, by doing these things you will continue to have an alarm for when things are getting off track. .
- ask yourself a question. ‘How am I feeling today.. What do i need?
- try a few simple ideas like-
Gentle yoga or energy based work,
Menstrual cycle awareness,
Self Limiting Beliefs and Positive thinking.
One of the biggest things that holds us back from self care is our own beliefs, that we don’t deserve it, we don’t have time, there are more important things to do, it is only for rich white women, it’s not in the real world, I am sure you have many of your own.. These are all issues that we have to work through and navigate, but until we get there we can use positive thinking..i.e. Fake it!!!
- These things aren’t the same as the real stresses and time challenges we have identified and accepted, but the negative little voices that we sometimes use as an excuse.
- Use mantra or positive affirmation to flip any negative view you have of yourself, or your limitations to practicing self-care.
- Come up with a phase of word that would be the opposite. It might feel strange to start as it is not what have told yourself over many years, but over time things will change – you already believe the negative thing so why not change that with some positive brainwashing!
- I don’t have time becomes – I will make time for self-care
- I am too busy It is ok to rest
- I need to just finish this project Today I am enough
- I have to do everything I ask for help when I need
- Life is tough I am supported
- Thing don’t go to plan for me Things will unfold in their own way
- I don’t deserve self care I am worthy of my own love
Don’t be afraid to say no. remind yourself to set healthy boundaries, listen to your heart and energy, it really is ok to say no sometimes.
It’s ok to say…
- NO, if you don’t want to do it.
- NO, if you’re already overscheduled.
- NO, if you don’t have time.
- NO, if you feel forced to say ‘yes’.
- NO, if it doesn’t make you happy.
- NO, if you’d rather relax
- It’s ok to say NO ( author unknown, borrowed from /becomingunbusy.com)
Just put down the phone for 5 minutes, sit still and listen to the birds, take 10 breathe, in the shower sing your favourite song, listen to podcast as you drive, put on your favourite clothes, pick yourself some flowers, give gratitude, message a friend you love them..
- It really isn’t the big stuff that keeps us going, it is the everyday things that remind us to live our best lives.
Let it Grow-
If we start with the small stuff, we can slowly untangle the knots of our messy lives and weave tiny micro self care practices in. with the practices of acceptance, gratitude, awareness and boundaries, our self care life already exists.. From here is just blossoms and grows naturally.
- You are already doing it!
- The rest is just stuff’s to do.
- Remember all self care needs to come from a place of love, awareness then you are always guided by your own heart and inner wisdom.
Self care has a positive feedback not only to our own lives but to those around us, to our communities, to the planet we live on.
- Remind yourself to regularly check in- listen to what is going on, what are your needs?
- If you are feeling you are going off track, go back to identifying your needs, these constantly change, as long as we are nurturing and growing!
- Same with our alignment, does our self care practices still hold up, do we need to change anything?
- Lastly- Keep coming back to-
Gratitude, Acceptance, Love and Awareness.
By Andrea White- Menstruality Mentor, Selfcare advocate , Well Woman Yoga therapist and exhausted mum of a toddler.