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Relaxing cup of tea

Six tips for self care

There is no question that 2020 has turned our world upside down. I don’t know about you, but now more than ever, I feel it’s shone a spotlight on just how important it is to care for ourselves both physically and emotionally.

Trust me, I don’t always get the balance right, so I was grateful for the reminder 2020 delivered: Life is precious, and I need to remember to take care of myself … the same way I care for others I love.

After developing three chronic health conditions during my 30’s, I’ve learnt to slow down and make some changes in my routine. You can read more about my health journey here.

These days, I feel more grounded and able to handle the day to day frustrations of life better - all thanks to a few little habits that allow me to prioritise my self-care. I try to drink less alcohol, walk daily, invest in regular massage treatments, enjoy a relaxing bath (without feeling guilty!), and get at least seven hours of sleep a night.

Here are six self-care tips that have worked for me.

1. Care for yourself

If there is one thing to remember it is this - it isn’t selfish to look after yourself. Your happiness and well-being are critical to dealing with life’s demands and your ability to support those you care about.

You have needs and deserve time to look after yourself — just like everyone else. So, it’s important to create healthy boundaries, and protect your ‘me time’. It might be as simple as waking up 15 minutes before everyone else is awake to sit quietly, enjoy a cup of tea and practice the art of mindfulness before the chaos of the day begins.

2. Treat yourself

When is the last time you gave yourself a gift or did something special just for you? Each month, give yourself something special that will add to your life: A new water bottle to encourage you to drink more water. A warm bath filled with heavenly scented bath salts and candles to help you unwind.

The key here, give yourself a moment to just pause: We all need a moment every now and then for quiet reflection in our busy lives.

3. Restore yourself

Think about what makes you happy – and write it in a journal. I find it easier to remember myself as a child and what made me marvel at the world. Was it the smell of flowers? Helping your parents build something? A summer holiday with your friends? How about using your fingers to paint something? Maybe it was listening to music and dancing like no one was watching?!

Try to recreate those experiences or remind yourself of simple pleasures to replenish your soul.

4. Ask for help

I’m incredibly lucky to have many close friends and family, but allowing myself to voice the unspeakable to them was hard at first, but it does get easier: “I need help.” “I am afraid.” “I haven’t felt like myself lately.” There is something about saying these things out loud, that makes the burden lighter somehow.

Give those close to you the opportunity to support you. After all, you’d do the same for them, so show yourself that same compassion.

5. Tune into your thoughts

There are millions of thoughts racing around in our heads at any given moment. What are you telling yourself about your appearance? What are you telling yourself about how well you did with that presentation at work? What are you telling yourself about your never-ending to-do list?

Now if you’re a Type A personality like me, then that little self-critic in your head who loves to do things ‘perfectly’ needs little less airtime! So, when you enjoy that quiet cup of tea tomorrow morning, ask yourself, “What are the things I’m proud of today? Even it’s just one thing, then that’s enough. It’s more than enough.

Make time in your day to pause and truly tune in – often this is my ‘treat time’ as well. Sometimes it’s a few mins walking through the park at lunchtime or when the world is still and my head hits the pillow at night.

6. Celebrate the wins

For me this last tip is the hardest. Yes, I am my own worst critic… but take it from me, pausing for a moment to acknowledge any obstacles you’ve overcome, lessons you’ve learned, new skills you’ve mastered and achievements you’re proud of goes hand in hand with tuning into your thoughts.

Now my advice – dial it down baby! Set the bar a little lower; let something go and stop saying the word ‘should’ - you’ll soon notice, no one else is holding you to account the same way you do yourself.

Celebrating the wins and silencing the inner critic isn’t ‘blowing your own trumpet’ it’s about acknowledging the mistakes, which make you human (no-one is perfect), and giving yourself a pat on the back for how much you’ve achieved.

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