What is good self-care? Trying to fit a routine into an already tight schedule where ‘I’ always come last and when it feels there’s no time left at the end of each day, can seem impossible. When you’re tired and drained and the telly is on you can't really be bothered anymore?
If this rings bells then please read on....
Here are a few feel-good suggestions of my own tried and tested methods which over the years have helped me to iron out the brow and get me going again when I’ve lost my way or have needed an extra lever to manage change. Believe me, it’s getting started, getting unstuck and feeling like you have made a beginning into a new journey that counts, and your mind and body will really appreciate the effort once you have begun.
If you were baking a cake for the first time then you’d probably follow a simple recipe of favourite ingredients - you wouldn’t dream of making banana bread if you hated bananas and equally you probably wouldn’t start with a croqenbrouch.
As easy as it is to look up a recipe it can be challenging if you’re starting out for the first time or wish to make a significant shift in your lifestyle patterns. Your goal might be to lose weight, gain inner peace or develop self-confidence, learn to relax, increase your level of energy or perhaps you want to address a specific health issue. You want to get fit and learn how to unwind but the idea of going to a gym or attending a yoga class makes a walnut whip of your brain and just feels too ‘out-there’. All in all, it’s easy to flounder, give up completely, make half-hearted attempts or opt for easier ways to relax that in the end can cause more problems, stress and unhappiness. We’ve all been there.
Is there one recipe which holds the promise of a shiny new self or a better life? Is there one magical solution which holds the outcome you desire? Maybe, but probably not. If you’re anything like me, trial and error have provided more answers than by sticking doggedly to one way. I love yoga and do it daily, but there are many other methods and a variety of ingredients to choose from when creating a lifestyle that suits me and my needs. Yet you don’t need to over complicate things or leave your dreams stranded on the doorstep before leaping into the unknown. Sometimes just starting with a simple plan and building it slowly can bring great results. We need to give ourselves permission to try out new approaches and to let go of what doesn’t work for us anymore. It’s challenging to move from a cosy comfort zone especially when it’s taken hold of our lives or when we’ve invested strongly in protecting it.
So let’s get cooking! Here are a few juicy ideas which you may like to try or adapt for yourself:
Be generous to yourself
Give time and space to explore new paths and fresh ideas. If you are planning on giving yoga or meditation or another style of practice a go, give yourself plenty of time to reap the benefits. It may take a month or so before you feel you’re getting anywhere. I like to make a 3 month commitment to a new path and find this approach takes any pressure off needing a quick fix.
Be under-ambitious setting personal goals
Don’t over fill your time with activities but make your goals achievable and simple. I find that writing goals down then evaluating maybe monthly/quarterly gives me time to adjust my course if needed and to acknowledge the results.
The word courage comes from the French word Coeur (heart). To encourage oneself is to offer courage back to the heart of our being. Give heart and do acknowledge the small and subtler aspects of who you are becoming. It takes great courage to make changes to our lives.
Make an exercise/meditation/relaxation date
Put time aside for a daily practice, whether yoga, stretching, a brisk walk, swimming or relaxation/meditation. Set a minimum time i.e. 10 minutes and go on from there. Don’t be hard on yourself up if you miss a day, just start over again tomorrow.
Morning mind ablutions
Set an intention for the day ahead. I usually do this over breakfast where I think about a quality I’d like to bring more of into my day, i.e. “today I intend to be more conscious of having compassion and peace in my life and to take breaks during the day away from the computer to refresh my mind.”
Spend time in nature. Take your lunch break in a city park, your garden, on the canal or river bank.
Create a delicious shopping list
As well as ingredients for new recipes you would like to try and a treat yourself to - include other items to show yourself you care: candles for the bathroom/bedroom; epsom salts or essential oils for a good soak in the bath; flowers for your living room/bedroom; a writing journal; new clothes for relaxing in at home; a recipe book.
Be kind, compassionate, patient and loving towards yourself. It’s easier to love and be patient with others when you are loving towards yourself.
Try.... a new recipe; a new hobby; a new club or group; a new way of thinking or looking at the world; guided relaxation - the internet has many to choose from to purchase or download.