I recently completed a 30 Day Challenge, during which I had to really make an effort to care for my mental, physical, and emotional well-being. You know, as opposed to spending everyday in a haze of sleep deprivation, Peppa Pig, scotch finger biscuits and far too much caffeine. It was an extremely eye-opening experience and (to my surprise) the further I went along, the easier the challenge became, and I actually started to crave my meditation time or my work out routine. And I noticed I was much more friendly, calm, receptive and generous than usual; it quickly became clear to me that when I made my own well-being a priority, I was then in a much better position to give in all other areas of my life.
Most of us are pretty practiced at giving everybody else our love and attention, but then letting the focus on ourselves slip. Mothers especially, are constantly putting everybody else’s needs before their own (I realise this every time I say ‘fuck it’ to making lunch for myself and just end up eating the crusts of toast that Lila throws on the floor). Anxiety sufferers, or those with other mental health issues often can’t practice self-care because they are just so busy trying to function at something resembling a ‘normal’ level, so the idea of self-love is just so far off the mark that it hardly even makes sense.
But here is why you need to practice self-care –
You cannot care for others if you have nothing left to give.
You have probably reached that point once or twice – or maybe many times – in your life where you simply can’t do anymore. Maybe you didn’t get enough sleep one night, and the next day you have a screaming child and several loads of washing to do and errands to run and all you want to do is have a nap or a really large glass of wine, but you can’t because you have all this shit to get done and it just never.fucking.ends!
Or maybe you’ve had a rough couple of weeks (or months) with your mental health, you feel like shit everyday and it seems like all you do is barely exist, you don’t have the energy to do anything, and you just crack.
These are (somewhat) extreme examples – but you get the picture. If your level of self-love is set at ‘not enough’, then everything else becomes set at ‘too much’. So many times I’ve snapped at some unfortunate soul (usually Jordan), just because I didn’t give myself the time to make it to the gym, or to get enough sleep, or to just have a couple of minutes to myself.
Self-care is about survival, my friends! When you make yourself a priority, it’s like filling up your tank so that you have enough physical, mental, and emotional energy to go round. Sure – you can get things done without taking care of your needs first – but you can bet your ass that it won’t feel good, and you’ll end up holding a lot of resentment for whatever it was you needed to do.
And for those of us struggling with our mental health, self-care may seem like something that just isn’t possible, or really very important. “Lauren, I can barely get out of bed, ‘self-care’ is pretty low on my priority list right now.“ Well, it bloody shouldn’t be! What if completing one act of self-care a day could bring you out of your mental funk? What if it could help with your anxiety? Lift the depression? One of my favourite quotes about self care is
With every act of self care your authentic self gets stronger, and the critical, fearful mind gets weaker. Every act of self care is a powerful declaration: I am on my side; each day I am more and more on my side. – Susan Weiss Berry
I don’t know about you, but as someone who constantly struggles with self-worth, I really like the idea of being on my side. It makes a nice change to hating myself for having all the social skills of a baked spud. And that’s what these little self-care habits are – a way of showing yourself and everybody else that you are worthy. (Obviously, you don’t actually need to prove to anyone else that you are worthy, but for the sake of pumping up self-care, we’ll run with it)
And the beauty of self-care is that all it really is, is whatever nourishes, pleases, or fulfils you. If you like cooking, then spending some time in the kitchen creating something delicious is an act of self-care. If you like eating, then artfully arranging a special meal on a plate and consuming it slowly, with some candles and soft music is self-care. (You can even eat naked if that’s your thing. I won’t judge.) If you like to dance, then commit some time everyday to just putting on some music and shaking your ass as energetically as you can! Self-care is setting aside time to do something FOR YOU.
Sometimes, it might be doing something you don’t necessarily feel like doing. If I’m tired, I don’t always feel like meditating – but afterwards I always feel more like myself, so I know it’s an important act of self-care. Maybe you’re so mentally and physically exhausted that having a hot shower and cleaning your face is the only thing you can do. But do it. You are deserving of your own love – at those times, more than ever.
Self-care is not selfish – it is critical.
I have created a free printable to help you out on your self-care way. You can use this printable daily to make sure that you make self-care a priority. There is a section at the top to write a mantra for the day – use your favourite affirmation, quote, or just a little note to self.
There is a section for writing one thing you love about yourself. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!
Then you have a handy little checklist with a whole bunch of self-care acts. Tick the ones you will complete today! (Pro-tip – ticking more than one unlocks self-care boss mode. Just joking. But not really).
The second page has a section for writing down all the things you are grateful for. I have written about the benefits of gratitude lists before, but if you haven’t started doing this yet – then get on it. It’s a game-changer.
To download your handy-dandy self-care printable, click here!
And remember, self care is not selfish. When you are able to give from a place of abundance and fulfilment instead of an empty black hole, you are actually able to give more. So really, self care not only benefits you, but everybody around you, too.
Schedule time in your day today to show yourself some love. Put yourself first for a change!
(Netflix and Nutella second)
The beautiful watercolor graphics used in the printable were lovingly downloaded from AngieMakes.com – get them yourself here 🙂