Self-care is the new health and wellness trend that seems to be spreading through young females everywhere and I for one, welcome this shift in mindset.
Seeing this new, empowering movement is amazing and something that is close to my heart. Only in the last 2 years have I come to realise how important self-care is in keeping me grounded and happy.
However, I’ve also seen ‘self-care’ be swept up in the slightly more pretentious whirlwind and the same old ‘go for a spa day‘ or ‘cosy up by the fire‘ advice being handed out time and time again.
There’s a big difference in treating yourself to the luxuries of life and actual self-care.
What is self-care?
Self-care simply means to take care of yourself. To acknowledge the effect that everything has on your mind and body. This can be physical fitness, gut health, sexual health, mental health, pretty much anything that has an impact on your overall health as a human being.
Self-care strategies are ways that you can integrate this form of mindfulness into your everyday. It’s a way for you to acknowledge what effect your actions have on your entire body. For example, if you’re under a great deal of stress, then your self-care may be to actively handle that stress through meditation, exercise or yoga.
To give you a better idea of how you can really get to grips with self-care here’s 10 self-care strategies to get you started.
And if you don’t want to read through every single point, just click to jump down to the section that catches your fancy!
Create a self-care journal
It may be a cliché to some, but having a journal really can help you put things into perspective.
You don’t have to create a daily diary, where you write down your ‘dear diary‘ entries and talk about your crushes. Use your journal however you feel benefits you in that particular moment. If you need to write a letter to yourself to better process your problems, do that. If you want to doodle whatever is currently running through your mind, dreams, ideas etc. then do that.
There are so many ways to keep a journal these days and many of them can be a tiny scrap book of thoughts and feelings, helping you to gain an outside perspective on the things that are having an adverse or even a positive effect on you and your life!
Using body scan meditation for stress
Meditation is one of those scary words that a lot of people run away from. The truth is, meditation is just like working out, there are many different ways you can do it and you can even mix and match meditation techniques in order to create something that works for you.
There’s honestly no right or wrong way to do meditation, just give it a go and keep trying different techniques until you feel a change or you start to feel the benefits. Body scanning meditation, for example, is the perfect way to deal with stress, as it helps you to identify tension in the body and work on releasing it over time.
Don’t expect miracles from sitting down for one 10 minute session. Just like lifting weights to get stronger, seeing the benefits of meditation takes time and dedication.
Finding a fitness routine that benefits body and mind
Recently I talked about how I was on a mission to create a fitness routine that I genuinely loved and enjoyed, in order to benefit my body and my mind. This idea of marrying working out with mental health has seen me improve my mood, body-confidence and overall happiness in just 2 months.
Simply changing the way I see fitness has made a massive difference to my life in a very short space of time. The biggest challenge has been tackling the mindset of friends and family, who still believe that exercise is still only a way to lose weight and get slim.
As soon as I banished this idea from my own beliefs, I could start to enjoy working out and see the benefits it had on my mental health. Now that I’m not using exercise as a tool to get skinny, I’ve finally made room to just enjoy the challenge and the way it makes me feel.
Acknowledging how your body feels
We are always rushing around, jumping from one task to another, so a lot of the time we don’t take notice of how we feel physically. We’ll feel a little niggle here and there, but we can’t let it get in the way of our giant list of things to do, so we push on.
It’s important that we all take some time and just check in with how we feel physically. This can help flag up anything we may need to get checked out. We may notice that we feel more fatigued than we first thought, or that we feel dehydrated because we’ve forgotten to drink any water that day (I’ve done this many times).
Our bodies carry us through our daily life and just like a well-used car, we need to give it a service every now and again to make sure everything is ticking over ok.
Ensuring you get enough sleep
Yes, this usually makes it to every list, but sleep may be even more important than you think.
A lack of sleep can not only have a whole host of negative effects on your body, but it can also massively affect your mental health. I always notice that if I have a terrible nights sleep, my anxiety comes out in full force. I am more emotional and my lack of energy makes my mood come crashing down.
Not just that, but it can also affect your digestive system, how quick your reactions are, make you more prone to stress and even affect your eyesight!
Your body needs 8 hours of rest to regenerate and replenish everything it’s lost through the day. It takes that time to process everything you’ve seen, done and experienced in the past 24 hours.
Many of your memories are all stored and processed whilst you’re asleep. Just because you are switched off from the world, doesn’t mean your brain and body aren’t still working hard, it can just work a little less hard when you get some shut eye
Getting out to socialise
That’s right, social interaction is also an act of self-care. Even those of us who are heavily introverted need some sort of human contact.
Think of yourself as a Sim, you need to keep all of your happiness bars topped up in order to be a happy Sim that does well in life and can enjoy nice things. Socialising is one of those happiness bars.
Not only can getting out with friends help you relax and disconnect from the hectic events of the day, but it can also help you to work through any issues you may be having. Talk to them about your problems or things that are worrying you, you’ll be amazed how easy it will be to gain a new perspective on situations when you say it out loud or get an outsiders opinion.
Finding a balanced diet that works for you
How many times have you been told you need a balanced diet filled with lots of fruit, veg, non-processed foods etc? That’s all well and good and yes we do need those things, but completely preventing yourself from having the food you really really want all the time, will drive you stir-crazy.
When you first set out on a healthy balanced diet, it may be tough to find that balance between eating something you really want and eating healthily. However, it’s only the first 2 weeks that are the struggle, after that, things will become easier and cravings will die down.
Sugar is especially addictive and can be a hard habit to break. Once you’ve indulged once, you’ll find that your cravings come on strong. Sugar craves sugar and this is how you end up in a vicious circle that’s painful to break.
Try substituting your usual sugary snacks for fruit, or if the temptation is too strong, allow yourself to have that biscuit, but keep it to just the one. Have one biscuit every day if you need to. Stopping yourself from eating any at all, could result in you binging later on.
Making time for rest
This is something many of us don’t do. Making time for rest is the key to a good self-care strategy. This doesn’t mean get more sleep or take a nap, although if you need a nap and you have time, go right ahead. Making time for rest simply means putting everything else aside and just being in the moment.
Our brains have the ability to process an unbelievable amount of information, but that can also mean we feel constantly wired and switched on. To take some time and unwind, we need to be able to quieten that constant whirring of thoughts.
This could be done through meditation, in which case, why not choose one of these amazing meditation apps to give you a hand? But it could also be something a little more simple like going for a walk, visiting family, going on holiday, going on a night out, watching Netflix, just something that lets you disconnect from the busier side of your life.
Paying attention to your emotions
This is another thing we are not great at, particularly millennials.
We don’t actually know how many emotions we are able to feel as a human being, although scientists have discovered around 154 so far through extensive research. That’s 154 emotions that you are able to feel and yet, probably don’t even know what they actually feel like.
Many times the feeling of excitement can be mistaken for nervousness or the feeling of love can be mistaken for a simple infatuation. We don’t spend long enough actually sitting and just feeling our emotions and understanding their role in how we think and feel within our own bodies, to be able to put them into context and truly understand them.
Body scans and simple meditation techniques are amazing for helping you acknowledge emotions, but also writing everything down on paper has also proved to be effective.
Working on self-compassion and self-acceptance
The final and one of the most important strategies for self-care is working on your self-compassion and self-acceptance. When we learn to feel comfortable within our own skin and with our unique personalities, that’s when we start to feel truly content.
Working on these two important factors can be done through a multitude of different ways, from challenging negative thoughts, creating a fitness routine that you love, finding a hobby, working on your long term and short term goals as well as a number of others.
This isn’t something that will come easy, simply because your brain has been programmed to protect you from any danger that may hurt you physically or emotionally. This means that it will try and tell you lies in order to stop you getting hurt. Lies such as ‘you’re not good enough‘ because that stops you from taking risks and potentially being embarrassed or physically injured.
If you find your thoughts stopping you from doing something or creating a negative or uncomfortable feeling within you, stop and have a think about why your brain may be coming up with those thoughts. What reasons could your brain possibly have for wanting you to believe that thought? Then come up with a response as to why your brain shouldn’t be worried about that outcome.
All of these techniques and strategies will take time and effort, nothing worth having gets given to you on a silver platter. Working on your self and ensuring you practice self-care strategies will not only help you to become a happier and healthier human being, but it may just open up a new perspective on life that you never had before.