It can’t have escaped your notice, but the words ‘self-care’ are suddenly everywhere; it’s the buzz-word for 2018, following on from wellness, mindfulness and hygge. At its most basic level, it’s simple, common-sense advice to take care of yourself. Call me cynical, but do we really need to be told this?
I was listening to a well-known breakfast show back in January and two ladies were on the show, talking about their book on self-care and when asked for examples of self-care, they included spraying lavender scent on your pillow. Really?! I would have expected them to come up with something a little less-clichéd, and maybe that’s the problem. We all know how important it is to look after ourselves, and we know what we SHOULD be doing but we’re all busy (work, children, older parents; we’re the classic sandwich generation) and it’s almost inevitable that looking after ourselves slips down the list. Or is it inevitable? It feels slightly selfish to put our own needs first but the underlying message about self-care is very relevant; how can you care for others if you’re not looking after yourself? Self-care is about listening to your body (and mind) and paying attention to what you need, not what the latest trend is or what you think you ‘should’ be doing. Kindness is another huge movement and self-care is all about being kind to yourself. Think of self-care as a savings account: regularly topping it up with small amounts will make it easier to fend off stress and illness, especially prevalent at this time of year.
I’m just as guilty of not looking after myself, often because I just feel too tired to make that little extra effort required. I did say to my husband last week that I’m not very good at looking after myself and need to up my game. I pride myself on looking after my family well so isn’t it strange that I don’t do the same for me?
The answer to what is self-care is different for everyone. Whether it’s a game of tennis, coffee with a friend, a long soak in the bath, reading a book, spending less time on social media (shock horror!) or a hundred other ideas, it gives you permission to look after yourself, which can only be a good thing. I have noticed recently that I find it much harder to relax than I used to and I’m sure that’s due to social media and the ease of checking a phone or iPad. I find it more difficult to get fully involved in a tv programme or film without wanting to stop and check something, whether related to the programme or some other random thought.
I love to catch up with friends and try to do so regularly, even if just for a quick coffee (okay, sometimes wine) and chat. I also do Pilates once a week and without fail feel better afterwards, no matter how tired I feel beforehand. I’ve also just bought an annual swim pass, having not been swimming for a year due to an ongoing ear problem, so that will make me get out and do something for me. And finally I’m also trying to leave my phone in another room if I’m watching something to lessen the temptation for a quick peek (now that’s a challenge!). What do you do to look after yourself and recharge your batteries? I’d love to hear your ideas.
I don’t really do New Year’s resolutions (does anyone actually stick to them?), and it’s too late to make one now but if I am setting myself a goal for the next few months, it’s to try and look after myself a bit better (I still don’t like the term self-care) – and I’ll also try to be less cynical!