The term ‘self-care’ gets bandied around a lot nowadays and seems to suggest indulging in everything from elaborate skin-care routines and all day meditation, to eating an entire chocolate cake in the middle of the night because #treatyourself.
Self-care is actually a hugely important part of supporting our emotional and physical wellbeing, and it is essential for anyone who engages in regular tasks (whether for work or home life) that are draining, unpredictable or demanding.
Signs you’re not looking after yourself
- You have way too much or not enough empathy for other people, which causes you to either over invest in their issues or conversely, not really give a shit.
- You feel resentment or apathy towards your job or creative outlet that used to inspire you.
- You’ve adopted a negative view of people in general.
- You struggle to control your reactions to others and are prone to outbursts.
- You aren’t getting as much satisfaction or pleasure from things that used to “spark joy”.
- You engage in harmful behaviours to avoid or escape thinking about work.
- You cancel plans, distance yourself from others and isolate yourself.
- There is an increase in complaints or conflict at home or at work.
Taking care of yourself
Here are a few tips to help you to take care of yourself, to help restore your energy levels and ensure that you are able to keep showing up for meaningful work and relationships now and into the future.
- Set boundaries. Be clear about your role and purpose at work, and what your needs are in your relationships. Be assertive with your communication.
- Understand your drainers. Develop an awareness of the situations, tasks and relationships that tend to drain your energy and/or light your emotional fuse. Move into these situations or interactions mindfully, perhaps prepping with a breathing or grounding exercise. Minimise these situations or interactions where possible.
- Make time for creativity and growth. It’s important to develop a sense of mastery and to engage in play (we’re all big kids after all!) Find a hobby or activity unrelated to work and allow yourself to immerse yourself in it, just for the fun of it!
- Nurture your relationships. Your relationships are a great point of connection and support (even though they might piss you off sometimes). Make time for the important people in your life. Be open and vulnerable with people you trust, and talk about how you’re feeling and how you’re coping.
- Check your thoughts. Notice how the way think impacts on the way you feel about situations and other people. Challenge thoughts that are not accurate or helpful. Do your best to give people the benefit of the doubt, and try to look for the good in people and situations.
- Look after your body. Keep your body healthy through a good diet, regular sleep and exercise.
- Find time for fun. Make time for healthy distractions away from work and obligations, e.g. watch a fun movie, go see a show, find a new hobby or sport, go out with friends.
- Tend to your environment. Make your home or work space something that soothes and inspires you. Make time to clear up mess or clutter.
- Nature time! Make time to spend in nature – from inner-city park strolls, to beachside walks, to rambling bush adventures. Research has shown that time spent in nature is relaxing and restorative.
- Get clear on your values. Remember your personal values and what motivated you to do the work and live the life you do. When you notice that certain things in your life don’t align with your values, see how you might revisit or shift them.
OK.. what now?
If you’re feeling like you need a little help taking care of yourself, it can be useful to –
- Ask for help and support as soon as you notice yourself struggling. Reach out to family and friends, or find yourself a support group where people might be facing similar struggles.
- Find a mental health practitioner that’s right for you (ask around, get on Google, or ask your GP for recommendations)
- Check out these free resources:
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Sound Check: Ash Grunwald