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Self Care

Self Care

Self Care

By Danielle Collins in collaboration with the Therapy House team.

Danielle Collins, Provisional Psychologist - Therapy House Brisbane

How to really do self care

We’re often reminded of the importance of self-care, but we are rarely taught how to establish a self-care routine that actually works for us. In the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, it’s very easy to overlook taking care of ourselves. It’s easy to plan self-care activities and routines, but when the time comes around to actually doing them – there’s a load of dishes or laundry that need to be done. Maybe we’ll feel better doing something nice for ourselves after we clear out our emails or just quickly do those jobs we’ve been putting off. Suddenly, we’re out of time and we put off intentionally allowing ourselves to rest and replenish.

Have you ever set self-care goals when you’re inspired, motivated and in a good mood? Perhaps you’ve watched something inspiring and decided that you’re going to commit to going on a 6am run every day, and you’re excited about it. You lay out your running clothes and shoes, you set your 5:45am alarm and you go to bed ready to start crushing goals. But when that alarm goes off, getting out bed and going for that run seems like the hardest task in the world. Perhaps you wake up sick. Maybe you manage to do a few days of morning runs, and something happens that means you can’t do it that day, and the motivation is gone. Cue the shame and guilt cycle of not being able to commit to your self-care goals, and an influx of thoughts such as “why should I bother doing self-care if I can’t commit” and “it’s too hard”.

Self-care isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach; what you need one day may not be what you need the next. It’s great to set self-care goals and be excited for them. BUT it is important to remember that our circumstances, energy, and motivation can (and will) change – and that is okay, being prepared for this is a form of self-care. When setting self-care goals, it is so important to consider and prepare for these changes.

So how can we set self-care goals that are going to work for us? How can we set ourselves up for success?

Creating your self-care plan

Take some time to sit down and think about the different times you need and want to do self-care. Consider your energy levels and time availability.

Low energy day

Let’s start with a low energy day – maybe you’re sick or tired or sad, and the idea of doing activities like being around friends, going out, or trying something new is too much. That is okay! Listen to your body and meet yourself where you are at. Think about what things make you feel good that don’t require the energy and effort that your body doesn’t have right now. Maybe you have a blanket that is as soft as a cloud, your comfiest PJ’s and a movie or show that you love or have been waiting to see, maybe a new candle you’ve been saving for the right moment. Let this be the right moment, get cosy, let your body relax and try to fit in some deep breathing exercises.

Two self-care struggles people often experience on low energy days is wanting to tidy up your area and personal hygiene. You want to relax on the couch and the lounge room is a mess, but you don’t have it in you to clean it up? Keep a box in the areas you’re likely to use for self-care, spend a couple of minutes rounding up the clutter and place it in the box, pop the box out of sight – we’ll come back to it when we have more energy.

Many self-care blogs will often list having a nice long shower, bubble bath or an at home spa day and you love the idea of it, but the energy isn’t there. You know feeling clean will help you feel better, but you just can’t bring yourself to do it. This is a big factor in the shame cycle for a lot of people. Get some cleansing and refreshing body wipes, some Listerine strips or mouth wash. These will allow you to feel nice and clean without the effort. You deserve to feel nice even on bad days.

Busy days with not much time or energy

You’ve gotten home from work, just put the kids to bed, or you’ve got some free time in the morning before work and you want to do something nice for yourself, but can’t commit to a large task. Maybe you could put on your favourite music while you cook or order yourself something you like to eat. Maybe you could use a nice soap when you have a shower. Maybe spend 10-15 minutes reading something you enjoy or watching a show. You could text a friend, look at cute animals online, do some gentle stretches or journaling. You could get some sun and fresh air, even if this is just opening some curtains or windows. On these days remind yourself – anything worth doing is worth doing at 5%. If you can dedicate even a small amount of time for self care, you will be grateful you did.

A bit more time and a bit more energy

Maybe you’ve got the morning off or it’s the weekend. You’re feeling pretty good and have some more energy – let’s optimise this window to do some bigger self-care tasks! Thinks like tidying up your living spaces while listening to something you enjoy, or taking yourself for a walk or out into nature if that’s your thing. Treat yourself to a nice cup of coffee and a treat from a café you love to visit. Chat to a friend, do some exercise you enjoy. Cook yourself some food, maybe even meal prep. Sit down with activities that fill your cup- do some art, journaling, practice gratitude, puzzles, make plans with loved ones.

The golden day – we’ve got time AND energy

These are the kind of days we usually envision when creating self-care plans. We’ve got uninterrupted time; our mood is good, and our energy is flowing! Let’s use this opportunity to maximise our self-care and set ourselves up for on-going self-care. These are the days where we can spend time making our living space nice – do some laundry, use the fabric softener that makes your clothes feel like a hug, declutter, make your bed, empty out the clutter boxes from our lower energy days (our low energy selves love you for this). Spend time with people you love that energise you, go to a new café or shop, try a new walking route, maybe attend the fitness or art class, start that passion project you’ve been putting off. Do the at home spa day with face masks, and long showers with all the nice products. Spend some time organising your to do list and appointments.

On these days it can be help to create and replenish what I call the “Bad Day Box”.

The Bad Day Box

Creating a bad day box when we have more energy can help set yourself up for those low energy days. The aim is to fill this box with things that will help and comfort you.

Some suggestions for things to put in a bad day box include:

  • Water / electrolyte tablets
  • Easy, low effort food like protein bars
  • Some of your favourite treats or tea
  • Tissues
  • A nice candle
  • Cosy socks
  • Body wipes, Listerine strips, mouth wash
  • Fidgets, comfort items
  • Low energy but nice activities – colour by number books and a pack of pencils, a book you love, mindfulness cards
  • A small book with photos of things that make you happy and positive affirmations.

“Nourishing yourself in a way that helps you blossom in the direction you want to go is attainable, and you are worth the effort.” —Deborah Day

You are worthy and deserving of care regardless of how energetic and motivated you are feeling. It can be hard to make the time to take care of yourself, but research shows that even 5 minutes a day of self-care can help to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, improve concentration and energy, increase happiness and our capacity to manage anger and frustration. When we show up and take care for ourselves, we are much more empowered to show up for all aspects of our lives – work, study, family, relationships. Remember: your self-care is entirely for you, think about what fills your cup and see how you can weave that into your self-care routines. Self-care should not feel like a boot camp. Approach self-care with compassion, meet yourself where you are at and ask yourself “what can I do right now, to help myself.”

If you live in Brisbane or are happy with using Telehealth, we are here to support you. Get in touch today.

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