In the last few weeks, I have tried to have more of a focus on self-care. And I thought it was a good time to the topic of ‘self-care routines’. During this time of self-isolation and social distancing, it is not only a great opportunity to focus on improving our self-care strategies, it is also vital to our wellbeing.
I have to be honest, in the past, I’ve had some good routines and not so good, perhaps non-existent routines. And when I think about it there is often a little voice of the critic, expecting me to do it better.
As a social worker and health, wellness and life coach, I know better than many, just how important this is. I also have the evidence from having experienced a healthy self-care routine to refer to, BUT I still find myself losing that routine and not doing the things that I know feel good and are good for my overall health.
Can you relate?
As my body so kindly pointed out to me a few months ago, in the guise of extreme back pain, when I’m not doing what nourishes and supports my mind and body, it does not function in the best ways. During this time I had a lot of time to reflect (and get frustrated and angry with myself) on what I was missing and why.
I have had some significant life changes over the last 12 months, which led to a loss of any kind of routine and familiar services and practices. For example, I moved countries, left my day job and started a business, amongst other things.
I no longer had:
- My local farmers market with organic, locally grown food or the organic ‘bulk’ store with reasonably priced and accessible goods, to nourish my body.
- My yoga school that feels like a second home to me
- My yoga and meditation room in my house
- The tools and comforts that supported my home yoga and meditation practice
- The beach at my ‘doorstep’, for long walks in bare feet to ground myself and absorb the minerals from the earth
- My alkalising water filter
The list could go on, but you get the picture, right?
I spent much of that year, beating myself up for not doing all the things I was used to doing, to take care of myself, and then justifying why I couldn’t do them. Really, not a helpful combination.
Being kind to yourself in the pursuit of a self-care routine is so important as my body so kindly reminded me of. Leading up to my back issues I was not being kind to myself at all. I was being critical, judgemental and was psychologically and emotionally punishing myself. Let’s face it, if you’re going to ‘get in trouble’, even if it is from yourself, you are unlikely to do the things you’re getting in trouble for not doing. AND what I have since realised, is that I was still doing quite a bit. It just didn’t look like it used to. I gave no recognition or reassurance for what I was managing to do, which of course impacted my incentive to continue.
What can we do about it?
Well, I believe that we need to begin by acknowledging that our current circumstances are different, unusual and something we have not experienced before. We need to be kind to ourselves and allow ourselves to feel whatever we are feeling in each moment. If you have your health, you are probably fine. However, on some levels, perhaps you are not fine. Perhaps there are some financial struggles or worries, perhaps you are worried about loved ones, perhaps you’re an extravert and are going crazy being cooped up inside. Perspective and compassion is the key.
Give yourself a break. Allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling, then give yourself some perspective. I find exploring what I’m grateful for, a great way to do that.
Then look at what you can do. If self-care is new to you, begin with one thing and make sure it is something that you know you can do. Make it simple and accessible. Perhaps it’s standing outside for 2 minutes and taking in deep breathes of fresh air. Perhaps it’s taking a 15 minute walk each day.
If you’ve had a practice in the past that you are struggling to get back to because your routine is all out of whack. Again, be kind to yourself, take a look at what your previous routine was and choose one thing to reimplement. And commend yourself for doing it.
Regardless of which option suits you best, avoid the criticism and judgement for what you’re not doing and focus on what you are doing. Maybe you could reach out to a friend and be accountability buddies. Comment below and make us your accountability buddy.
Here’s what I’m going to do:
- Reflect each night, on what I have or haven’t done with kindness and compassion. Looking out for signs of criticism or judgment that occurred during the day so that I can be more conscious of those statements or comments that I’m saying to myself.
- I’ll start my morning with a minimum of 5 minutes meditation, including a self-love mantra
- I’ll move away from my desk regularly and stretch my body in any way that feels OK to me at the time
- I’ll take a walk outside and take in the beauty of the season changes
- I’ll celebrate the wins in my gratitude journal
I’d love to hear what your strategies are going to be. Let me know how you go and whether or not this resonates with you.
Take care and remember kindness and compassion always!