“Talk to yourself like you would to someone you love.”Brené Brown
When people talk about self-care, I think of two things. Either a serious struggle with a mental health condition or a fancy day at the spa. Both ideas are wrong and don’t really reflect the real meaning of self-care.
We don’t need to push us to the limits of developing a mental health condition to start taking care of ourselves, and the one-time day at the spa is not what it is about.
Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Although it’s a simple concept in theory, it’s something we very often overlook. Good self-care is key to improved mood and reduced anxiety.
In this post I want to go through 5 simple but effective ways to start taking care of YOU and improve the way you feel.
All of these steps are free, nothing like “travel around the world” or “sing up to yoga classes”. They all start from within and not from any external input. No excuses.
1 – Be Compassionate
Be compassionate with yourself. You are a work in progress, you are flawed, the presence of imperfection is perfect and needed to survive.
So, as Brené Brown says, “Talk to yourself like you would to someone you love.” (If you haven’t heard of Brené Brown, google her Ted talks). Be kind to yourself. Stop judging or comparing yourself with others. Remember that everyone has a different background, path, ideas so there is no “like with like” comparison when it comes to people’s lives. Practice positive self-talk.
2 – Invent Your World
Invent your world by surrounding yourself with nourished and positive connections. People that will uplift and mirror positivity. Surround yourself with positive people who support and encourage your happiness and development, as opposed to trying to sabotage it. You know who treats you poorly and you know who tears you down instead of building you up.
Surround yourself also with colours, sounds, and work that nourish you. So, choose to wear that bright coloured dress or jumper. Be mindful when choosing what goes into your playlist. And make time to work on things that you are passionate about (even if your “pay the bills” job is not one of them).
3 – Sharpen Your Specialties
Sharpen your specialties, the sooner you find and make peace with the thing that makes your soul shine the more it pours out. This is similar to Simon Sinek’s “Finding your Why”. It’s about that thing that makes you tick and that makes you happy when you do it. Whether it is painting, singing, dancing, cooking, playing an instrument, practicing a sport, coding, blogging…. whatever!
Read, listen to podcasts, attend conferences or seminars, learn from someone who inspires you, practice, fail, learn and repeat. Focusing on doing something that brings you joy, will keep your mind away from negative thoughts.
4 – Do Not Reduce Yourself
Do not reduce yourself to fit in or disfigure your sparks of magic to become accepted, you are a wonder walking flesh. Set clear boundaries with yourself, and don’t push you to do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable.
5 – Remind Yourself
Remind yourself of how far you have come, how strong you are, protect the joy in your soul. Do not let doubt entrap you.
And this also means being grateful for your achievements so far. Getting up, getting dressed and leaving the house to face the day COUNTS as an achievement. Do not take for granted if you can walk on your own feet, if you have vision to pick your clothes, if you have a safe place to sleep every night.
Achievements are not “the big” milestones (graduation, landing your dream job, getting married, etc.). I call “achievements” every little thing that enables and fuels your life. You should always remind yourself of those things and practice gratefulness.
And if you feel like your self-care battery has been running low for a long time and even small things feel too overwhehlming. Go to therapy. Reach out for help. Don’t hide in shame and silence. Ask for what you need, create a strong support system. You’ll be surprised of how many people out there are willing to help. Break the stigma.