In a busy and demanding world, taking care of our wellbeing can often drop down our to-do list. Whether it’s looking after our families, relationships, work or other responsibilities, it’s easy to get caught up in external commitments and to forget to take care of our own needs. We’re also often taught that looking after ourselves is selfish or indulgent, and so many of us simply don’t make space for it.
Yet self-care couldn’t be more vital. Self-care is essentially anything we do to support our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. It’s an act of loving kindness towards ourselves – and it’s fundamental to our health and happiness. By replenishing our inner resources, we can also better meet external demands, cope with stressors and relate to others in a positive way. Self-care is key to living in alignment with who we really are, and to showing up with greater clarity, integrity and resilience.
The art of self-care
Self-care is different for everyone – and that’s the beauty of it. At its heart, self-care is a practice of cultivating a healthy connection with ourselves. It’s about taking time to direct our energy and attention inwards, and attuning to our own needs. By valuing and caring for ourselves, we also set the standard for how we want to be treated by others. Making time for self-care is a powerful way to nourish ourselves in every aspect of our lives.
The following are helpful tools for creating a practice of self-care.
Schedule it in
One of the best ways to practice self-care is to schedule it into your diary. By treating self-care as equally as important any of our external tasks and responsibilities, we make it a healthy priority – and reap the rewards. It doesn’t take much. Even five minutes a day spent on self-care can make a huge difference to wellbeing. What’s important is making a positive and regular commitment to yourself.
Learn to listen inwardly
Self-care starts with inner awareness. It’s founded on listening to our bodies, paying attention to our feelings, and discerning what we truly need. Often these are skills we have to learn. Taking time to slow down, go inwards and listen with all of your senses, rather than just your mind, can help to cultivate this inner awareness. From this, it’s easier to understand what’s needed, and to replenish and resource yourself.
Follow what feels good
Self-care is all about what feels good for you. Giving ourselves permission to orient to pleasure and joy is one of the most important aspects of self-care. In doing so, we naturally open to greater health and happiness. Be curious – ask yourself what feels good and what you enjoy. Get creative and let yourself explore. Self-care is a great way to get to know yourself and find out what truly nourishes your mind, body and spirit.
Keep it flexible
At its best, self-care is a dynamic practice that adapts to suit our needs. One day, self-care might mean stopping, resting and simply being quiet. Another day, it might be doing exercise or healthy activities. Sometimes it might be spending time in nature. Others it could be meditating, or enjoying a favourite hobby. Self-care is as unique as you are. By staying open and attuning to what you need at different times, you can better support yourself to find a healthy balance.
Expand your view of self-care
Self-care isn’t just about pockets of rest and recovery. It’s all about an attitude, a way of relating to ourselves in every aspect of our lives. Self-care is being kind and respectful to yourself and making positive choices in each moment of your day-to-day. This could be speaking to yourself in a supportive way, setting healthy boundaries or learning to say no. It could be allowing yourself to make your needs a priority. Or it could simply be a remembrance of your inner being, even as you go about your daily tasks. By nurturing a healthy relationship with yourself in this way, self-care becomes a transformative act of self-love.