As you may or may not already know, this is a series all around different elements to help get us back on track. I definitely lost my way in 2020, too much fear, distraction, heartache, and more going on. I am not alone in the myriad of emotions which is why I decided to do something positive and put this series together. Today we are discussing self-care – I believe that you will agree when I say that self-care is vital … it works hand in hand with “you cannot pour from an empty cup”. To give the world your best, you need to be at your best!
So far in the how-to Backtrack and Finish 2020 Strong series, we have covered the following:
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What Self Care Is Not
I would like to start with what self-care is not. It is not putting yourself ahead of the needs of others. It is not believing that you are more important than anyone else. It is not selfish either. It is not all about how you look or feel, although they can be outcomes of whether you do or do not allow yourself some necessary self-care.
What Is Self Care About Then?
According to Psychology Today, “Self-care is about taking care of your body, mind, and soul every day. Not just when you are sick.”
According to Psychcentral “Self-care is any activity we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health.
For me, self-care is found in my daily habits. These may differ from person to person but one thing is for certain, all human beings benefit from the following:
- spiritual practices (for me this is praying and reading the word of God)
- sound nutrition
- a good nights sleep
These are our basic needs. There is more to consider for your self-care. I will elaborate a little further down.
Why Self Care Is Important
- Self-care strengthens us and prepares us to handle the stresses’ life invariable sends our way. Here are some effects stress has on us:
- Weakens our immune system
- Causes high blood or low blood pressure
- Increases anxiety and depression
- Causes premature aging – not just our looks but our actual body age, for example, an extra & unnecessary load on our organs
- Can result in overeating or under eating. Extreme weight, whether it is overweight or underweight is damaging for our bodies
- Can cause reduced mental functioning, resulting in memory loss
Self-care counteracts all the above simply by giving us time and space to reduce our levels of stress. Or, our reaction to stressful times. Plus, we refuel when we take the time we need.
- Self-care refuels us and enables us to:
- Perform at optimum with higher energy levels
- Take care of others because we have something to give
- Enables us to take a pause from life and think clearly and enjoy mental clarity
- Know who we are, what we believe, in and what we stand for
- Operate from a place of peace and calm
- Enjoy a happier life (remember, happiness comes from within, it is not an external ideology)
Beautiful & Practical Self Care Ideas
Here are some amazing ideas you could incorporate into your life and help you recharge.
These are ways to acknowledge ourselves and appreciate ourselves too. After all, if we cannot do that for ourselves, how will we do the same for others?
Plus how can we expect others to acknowledge and appreciate us if we don’t do that for ourselves first, right?
You will see that there are physical and mental ideas that will aid in reducing stress and increasing levels of happiness.
Watch Your Thoughts & Be Kind To Yourself In Your Thoughts
Our thoughts can be sneaky and can debilitate us if we are not mindful and aware of them. Here are some ways to manage what goes through your mind:
- Be intentional about your thought life. If you find yourself thinking badly of yourself:
- test that thought.
- measure it.
- is it true?
- what made me think that?
- do I believe it?
My best friend taught me about this, she caught me saying something derogatory about myself and her response was “Don’t you dare speak about my Bestie that way!” It was funny, but she was also 100% correct to challenge me on what I had just said about myself.
Be Kind To Yourself & To Others
- Be kind to yourself in your actions too
- If you are tired, take a break. Just give yourself some breathing room and permission to be a human being. That’s right, we can just “be”, after all, we are not human doings, are we?
- When deadlines are looming taking a break may seem unreasonable, truth is, taking that 5-minute break (if that is all you can afford) will enable you to breathe and think more rationally and clearly. Try it.
- Think about how you would treat another person if they were tired, unhappy or overwhelmed. You would be compassionate and kind, would you not? Treat yourself the same way.
- If you wouldn’t be kind and compassionate to that other person, it is time to consider why that is and challenge yourself for your response to another.
Help Your Body Cope Better
- Allow your body to relax by taking a walk. This will also give you the opportunity to breathe in some fresh air and enjoy a change of scenery.
- You could even take the time to control your breath. Breathe in on the count of two steps and out on the count of two steps. Regulating your breathing gets oxygen to your entire body, your brain too. Helps you to relax and think more clearly.
- Being out in nature is also great for our mental health.
Distract Your Mind & Read A Good Book
In his book, Thee 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey talks about a paradigm shift. This is powerful.
The story goes something along the line of a man on a train with his children who are very noisy and badly behaved.
A woman asks him why he is not telling his children off to which he replies, “their mother just passed away”.
As you can imagine, the children were initially an annoyance and their father was not considerate of others by allowing his youngsters to run amok.
Once the context of their mum passing away was shared, the paradigm shifted from one of irritation and annoyance to one of compassion.
Books can give you the paradigm shift you need to re-see the life you are living and the world you live in.
I encourage you to read the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, it’s an excellent read and will make a massive difference to your life if you follow the principals shared.
Currently, I am reading Without Rival by Lisa Bevere, another book I highly recommend. Lisa Bevere has a way of sharing thoughts and ideas that can also give the paradigm shift one may need.
Watch A Movie You Love
One of my go-to’s in the movie department is August Rush featuring Robin Williams.
This movie reminds me that the world is so much bigger than just the here and now, everything is connected. It also reminds me that love is everything.
I encourage you to watch August Rush or your favourite movie.
A good comedy is also well worth considering. I was introduced to Black Adder by a British family at the time they were grieving a loss in the family. Initially, I found it to be quite bizarre, but it actually made sense. Spending the time laughing until our bellies hurt helped everyone so much.
Make Use Of Affirmations or Love Notes To Yourself
Write down quotes or words that encourage you and post them in visible spots around your home.
I currently have little cards with hashtags on them posted on my bedroom wall by the light switch.
These help to remind us of what is important. That we are important. There is a purpose for our lives.
My daughter may sometimes think I am a bit nutty, but it helps to say the words out loud too. Here are some of my hashtags for 2020 (I have no doubt you will see the irony in some of them):
I wrote an article about Mindset Mastery and invite you to have a read.
There are all sorts of products available when it comes to affirmations, here is just one of them, He Lifts My Head High, 3-Minute Daily Affirmations for Christians.
Enjoy A Quiet Time
This can be done in your bedroom with the door shut, just to ensure you are not disturbed.
Take the time to enjoy the peace and quiet. If it’s not possible in your home, perhaps you can go to a beautiful coffee shop, the library, or a local park.
If you cannot physically get away from the noise, maybe plug into an online platform where you can listen to the sounds of nature. Just close your eyes and enjoy.
You could even invest in a CD set – Relaxation Nature Sounds 4 CD Set For Meditation, Relaxation, and Sleep available from Amazon.
I am an Amazon Associated, please be aware that should you purchase through a link in this article, I stand to earn a small commission. This will not affect the purchase price at all.
My quiet times are usually spent with the lover of my soul, my Creator. In prayer or praise, sometimes just listening and enjoying His presence.
Get An Early Night
Whilst we may all strive to get enough sleep, often this just does not always happen, right?
Treat yourself to an early night, it does wonders for me. Just this week I managed to have a much longer sleep than usual and woke up feeling like a brand new woman.
Struggling to fall sleep? Try the CD set suggested above for your quiet time. Included in the set are sounds to assist with sleep.
Do Something Creative
Creative adventures really help us to let go of the day to day stresses’. Allow yourself the freedom to paint without making it precise and perfect. Splash that paint on the canvass and experiment by watching it run and interact with other colours.
Perhaps painting is not for you. How about making some music, creating a gorgeous corner in your garden, writing a poem, baking something delicious, or cooking.
There are so many ways we can become creative. I recently saw some rope craft ideas on Pinterest, I have to give that a try!
You could even do something more structured like buy a colouring for adults book and get in touch with your inner child again.
Also available from Amazon, this is the book I shall be buying next: An Inspirational Colouring Book For Everyone, Be Fearless In The Pursuit Of What Sets Your Soul On Fire
Learn To Say No
There are times when we all feel overwhelmed and simply have too much on our plates.
When this happens, take a look at where you have over-committed yourself and make the decision to turn down or decline a commitment or two.
Naturally, we are not going to do this at the last minute, very few friends are accepting of that. Be sure to communicate clearly that you taking a rain check or that you are really in need of some downtime.
Friends should understand this, especially if you communicate well.
If Your Mind Is Overloaded Put It All Down On Paper
I learned about this in an online course I did, they called it a “brain dump”.
You literally jot down everything that is crowding your mind, it doesn’t need to be orderly. All you are doing is transferring it all from your mind so you do not need to work so hard at remembering everything.
Once it is all out of your head and onto something visual (a whiteboard, paper lists, digital calendar, or a beautiful journal) you can clear your mind and rest in the knowledge that you have everything you need to remember written down in a safe place.
Then take the time to make decisions about everything that is on your list. Schedule everything that needs to be scheduled by allocating time in your diary, (examples are renewing your car license, drivers’ license, etc).
Delete anything that is not important or urgent (those meaningless nagging worries). I do this by keeping those items on my list and drawing a line through them. For me, that is a way of acknowledging what was worrying me and the decision I have taken that it is not important or urgent.
Once this is done, exhale and enjoy that the job has been done well.
This year I purchased The 5-Second Journal, The Daily Journal, and Fastest Way To Slow Down, Power Up and Get Sh*t Done. Also available for you to purchase via Amazon.
I highly recommend it! Mel Robbins has some amazing insight when it comes to keeping ourselves in action rather than inaction.
Take A Planned & Intentional Break From Social Media
If you are anything like me, you possibly experience a bit of FOMO when you do not spend time online. This could be on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, MyWeb, or a myriad of others.
The challenge with that is we could be wasting time mindlessly scrolling (I am the first to admit guilt) and in the process, be filling our minds with toxic images and thoughts (also guilty).
There is nothing wrong with a social media sabbatical – in fact, I know its good for me.
When you get back online, you could even do a social media detox by unfollowing accounts, unfriending or unfollowing people.
I unfollow people on Facebook when they continually post items that are inappropriate for me. I do not unfriend them, because they are people I care for. Unfollowing works because you remain friends but whatever they share or publish does not come up on your feed.
Plan A Getaway
Being in the same town, doing the same things over and over can become monotonous. We also get caught up in the “doing”.
Plan a getaway. This could be a staycation if money doesn’t allow a trip out of town.
Should you decide on the staycation option, be sure to plan things that take you away from what you would usually be doing at home. No washing, cleaning, etc., get out and about. Even if it’s taking the family to the park in the next-door suburb, kicking a ball around, and having a picnic. Or just read a book lazing on a blanket under a tree.
If funds do allow, plan a location getaway – go camping just out of town; or take a more meaningful trip to the coast or inland if you are already at the coast.
Invite some great friends to travel with and share the costs. Play games, sit around a campfire, toast marshmallows, hike, swim in the ocean, take a long beach walk (my best!). Simply enjoy the outdoors.
Prayer and Meditation
It is interesting to see that meditation is becoming more popular, it is said to reduce stress. This interests me because the Bible that I read has spoken about prayer and meditation for millennia.
Whatever your beliefs are, spend some time with a quiet mind. Relax and listen to music or meditate on words that are meaningful to you.
If you struggle to let go of everything running through your mind, try focusing your breathing. Then relax your body consciously from the top of your head to the tips of your toes.
Literally, working your way through your body and as you breathe relax your forehead, your face, your neck, your shoulders … and work down your body. Focus on your muscles relaxing and releasing tension.
I pray whilst I do this and/or focus on scriptures.
It’s a beautiful way to relax, release physical tensions, and spend time focusing on the One who gives me life.
Do Something You’ve Never Done Before
Give Pilates a try, or spinning (both firm favourites for me). How about a Zumba class, or Belly Dancing? I have done both and they’re great fun!
If you are a homebody and prefer trying things out privately before launching yourself into a class environment … Amazon has you covered for that too. The Full Body Pilates Part 1 is very affordable!
You could learn a new skill, crochet is very popular these days, as is Macrame. Find a class in your area or online.
Most Of All ~ Have fun!
Avoid Being A People Pleaser
Make sure you are not compromising yourself or your time by accepting every call and every invite.
Yes, there are times when we need to compromise and do things that our loved ones want to do in favour of our preferences. But there is also nothing wrong with boundaries. If you are invited to something you are really not keen on doing, decline kindly.
As I said at the beginning, you cannot pour from an empty cup. Ensure that you have reserves to take care of yourself first. Otherwise, people you love are not getting the best of you anyway.
Create A Gratitude Journal or List
In his book, the Slight Edge, Turning Simple Disciplines into Massive Success 7 Happiness, Jeff Olsen encourages us to write down 3 things we are grateful for every day.
I followed this practice and found it to have an incredible impact on where I focused my thoughts. There is a range of different activities suggested in the book, each one of them is extremely helpful.
Already have a journal and would like some more information about what a gratitude list is? No problem, I had you in mind when I wrote this article. It is a short read and covers the question “What Is A Gratitude List?”
Do A Self Audit
Create a list of what you love about yourself.
No, no, don’t be “that person”, you know the one, who says daft things like “the only ugly thing about me is my toes”. What I mean is truly examine who you are, how you conduct yourself and write your list from there.
This is a very helpful exercise because it helps us to appreciate ourselves and what we have to offer to others.
Here is an example, my highest value is kindness. If you asked me to write a list of what I like about myself, kindness would be at the top of that list.
I also value kindness in others, more than wealth, good looks etc.
Try this activity out, you may surprise yourself.
If you are struggling to feel worthy (and we all go through this from time to time), put the list somewhere that you will see it every day. Remind yourself of your positive traits.
Be a L’Oreal gal or guy … “because you’re worth it”.
This is important. If we do not value ourselves, we will accept that others do not need to value us either. We ALL have value, even in our darkest times.
If you really struggle with finding your attributes and value, ask your closest friends and family members to give you one positive word to describe you and work from there. Be brave!
Sing and Dance To Your Favourite Songs
This never fails to cheer me up. There is no need to dress up and go out to have a good time!
Play your favourite songs and dance around in your pajamas! Why not?
Your spouse and kids will love it! No spouse and no kids? No problem – just do it on your own.
I do, it helps my body produce all the happy hormones I need for the day, and off I go.
Enjoy your life!
Do you love the fragrance and beauty of a bunch of flowers? Why wait for someone else to buy them for you if you can afford to buy your own? Go on, buy that bunch, and enjoy it.
How about beauty salons? Do you enjoy being pampered? There you go … book a massage, facial, manicure, or pedicure. Pamper yourself and don’t feel guilty about it.
Visit the hairdresser … I don’t often go to the hairdresser because it’s not really my thing … but if this is what makes you feel great, go on, book an appointment.
No extra cash laying around to treat yourself out? No problem, do a home self-care afternoon. Take your time, drink your favourite tea from your best cup, spend time reading the bath with a candlelit nearby and gentle music playing in the background.
Really make it special for yourself, whatever that means. I sometimes enjoy a long bath, reading a book, taking the time to exfoliate after soaking, wash my hair, put a treatment on. Maybe even a face mask. Do what works for you.
Clutter can have an interesting impact on our lives. It can weigh us down mentally, physically and emotionally.
My life is not clutter-free, but it is 100% better than it was a year ago. I cannot describe what a relief it was to get rid of items in my home that were no longer being used.
Mine went to Boys and Girls Town who make use of everything they can, either by using it themselves or by selling it to raise funds.
I am sure there are charities in your area who will relieve the burden of no longer needed items.
I have also donated to SPCA, they have a charity shop too. There are many ways you can let go of your clutter without filling up the landfills.
A simple way to do this is to create areas or boxes as follows:
- Throw out
Naturally, the items you are keeping will remain so there is no need for a “keep” box. As you work through the room, hold the item in your hand and decide, does this serve a purpose in my life and home? If not, it goes into one of the above-mentioned boxes.
Anything you haven’t used for the last 6 months is usually ready to move on to somewhere or someone who can put it to better use.
Have A Duvet Day!
Yeah, staying your PJ’s and pull the duvet over your head for the day!
Some companies allow their employees a duvet day for however many days worked. Provided their work is up to date, they can call in a legal day off by taking a “duvet day”. How cool.
So, do that for yourself. If your employer doesn’t allow for it, do this on a weekend day. Make no arrangements, sleep until you wake up. Laze in bed or on the couch with your furbabies, movies, book, or journal … whatever suits you.
Rest, relax, and enjoy your own company!
Join A Hiking Club
Perhaps your idea of a great day is an active one. How about signing up with a hiking club by starting small and doing a short hike with a new group of people?
It’s a great way to get out and enjoy the fresh air in a safe environment. Who knows, you may even make some new friends! I say start off with a short hike for two reasons:
- So that you don’t get stuck too long with a group of people you may or may not gel with. If you find they are great people perhaps you can join them for a coffee after the hike or for the next longer hike.
- To get a gauge of your own fitness level and capabilities – unless you know you are fit and strong enough, it makes sense to start with a short hike. Also, remember to check the gradient of the hike.
If hiking isn’t your idea of fun, perhaps a team sport will suit you better? Have a try out at the local action cricket, netball, or hockey.
You could even try out for Thai Chi or Fencing. Why not? Do something different, take yourself out of your comfort zone, and try out something new.
How Did You Enjoy This Article?
I had fun putting this together and hope that it has been enjoyable for you. What suggestions appeal to you? Do you have anything to add that you would rather do? Perhaps motorbiking is your thing? (I have the desire to own a bright pink Harley Trike – yes, that is on my list!).
Let me know in the comments below what your thoughts are.
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So far in the how-to Backtrack and Finish 2020 Strong series we have covered the following:
You do not have to wait for an email to read about the above topics, you can access them right now by clicking on the wording.
Well, this How To BackTrack & Finish 2020 Strong is certainly giving me the encouragement to make the most of the last 4 months of 2020. I hope it will do the same for you.
Blessings as always