Self care. Two small words filled with love and warmth. Which the NHS defines as knowing how to keep fit and healthy, how to deal with medicines appropriately, manage self-treatable conditions and when to seek appropriate clinical help. If you have a long-term condition, self care is about understanding that condition and how to live with it.However, I suspect most people, consider self care to mainly focus on nourishing activities that restore us and our well being. Those important nuggets which all feed into a bigger healthier picture.
I love the concept of self care, it makes so much sense to me, after all it is plain common sense isn’t it?! I am the first to encourage self care among friends and family, understanding the importance of them taking care of themselves, of loving themselves, of recognising themselves. I’m great at helping them find the time to make it happen. However, self care often feels like my own personal nemesis. It all too often gets forgotten, being the first thing to be scrapped off the ‘to do’ list, the simplest yet hardest thing to achieve in my day. When my mental health takes a nosedive, when I have yet again caught the family cold or all I can see are the million things that need to be done, there goes self care. There goes me. Because, as I am slowly starting to realise, if I don’t look after me, then there is no ‘me’.
Why do I find this so hard? Because, for me, self care conjures up images of fully fledged projects, big grand elaborate plans, not a small self nourishing act. I always envisage a master plan, . It’s all or nothing. I dream of reading several chapters, books if I’m honest, not partial chapters and certainly not sentences. I want to make bags, for all of my nieces and nephews, as one completed project, I don’t think to just start a project, or do a small project. I want to run well, a good healthy distance and see the benefits to my health immediately, a quick jog is pointless. So, I am always overwhelmed by the prospect, always setting myself up to fail, something enjoyable and nourishing is ruined before I’ve even begun. Because I don’t consider small acts to be self care, a hot cup of tea with a sit down, a bath or a walk, just don’t factor into my view of being needed. They get scrapped without a pause of thought. Even writing this article, I have wanted to write it completely, fluidly in one go, skipping the edits and thought process, I wanted it perfect, and I wanted it immediately. Reasonable no?!
So, in a bid to aid regular and manageable self care, I have organised a dedicated drawer beside my bed, a space that is just for me. I have filled it with items that are personal and vital to me.My space is filled with: music to soothe me and to bring me back to life, books for escapism, chocolate to treat myself, a picture to remind me of the friends who understand and help me (#pndfamily), a picture of my favourite place to remind me of beauty and the person who once visited there, colouring to relax and focus my attention, a journal to exorcise my demons. I hope my self care drawer will achieve a couple of things; relaxation, nourishment and connection to my ‘true’ self.
My hope is that if I have a dedicated, easily accessible space just for me, I will find it easier to nourish myself, that it will be easier to allow self care to happen. I’m hoping to turn self care into a daily habit, not just something I use when feeling low, but a daily habit and firm belief that I deserve it.
If you fancy doing similar, I would suggest:
- Keep it simple – limit the options and size of task
- Maximise the nourishment – make it something that really makes you happy
- Make it portable – you want to be able to take it on holiday, overnight with work etc