Self-care is such a really important aspect of your health and wellbeing. Staying balanced and looking after your whole health — mind, emotions, spirit and body. Everyone needs to stop and rest. We are taught, especially women, to give, to nurture. But in reality everything is an ebb and flow. No-one can keep giving without rest, without first giving to themselves. This post breaks down what self-care really is and how you can simply create your own self-care practice.
What is Self Care?
Self-care, in essence is taking the time to nurture and look after yourself. The quote “You cannot pour from an empty cup” is one I always think of in relation to self-care.
Self-care is putting yourself first to ensure you have the capacity to deal with everything else in life.
It is doing things that ground you, make you feel centred, and bring you energy.
It is taking time out from everything and everyone else and focusing on yourself.
Self-care does not have to be expensive or mean face masks and massages. Yes, it can be that. But more importantly it is rest. It is mental self care.
Most importantly self-care is not selfish. It is essential. Putting yourself first enables you to give from a place of restored and cared for energy, when you can be your best. Instead of trying to keep going when you are already drained and exhausted and ending up collapsing in a heap in the process. Which is helpful to no one, least of all you.
It is natural for things to go in cycles: a time of energy, a time to rest. Followed by renewed energy again. Allowing yourself time to rest allows new thoughts and ideas to flow, and space for new dreams to grow. We have somehow forgotten this natural cycle and expect our bodies and minds to just keep going. And then we are surprised when our body kicks back and we end up with a major sickness or health concern.
Nothing can run forever on empty!
How to create your own self-care practice
The things you choose to do as your self-care routine are yours to choose and are personal to you. What everyone needs to feel comforted, refreshed and nurtured is different person to person. The key is to remove yourself from everyone and everything else around you. Regardless of how you choose to practice self-care it is something which must be done alone and in as much peace as possible.
Creating your self-care practice starts with finding out or making a list of all the things that make you feel good, give you energy, and help you relax.
Once you have a list of things you want to try or know make you feel better you can try out different variations until you find the one that works/feels best. Or you may instinctively already know what your practice should consist of.
Of course it doesn’t have to be the same set of routines each and every time.
But having a bank of little rituals that you know work to restore you, give you energy, re-set your mind, and let your body rest is an invaluable resource to have and help you stay healthy, happy, and whole.
In my mind there are two types of self-care practices:
-that which you can do on a daily basis as part of your morning and evening routines that set you up for the beat day and help you unwind and relax for the best sleep respectively.
-the second being more of a ritual practice you complete every few weeks or so once you start to feel yourself become depleted, drained of creativity & energy, and lacking in something. The idea here is to prevent total exhaustion and every once in a while retreat from the world to your own private sanctuary where you can perform those self-care rituals that make up a fully restoring practice for you.
You need to have both, and if you don’t have a mini daily self care routine as you get ready and go to bed each night, you definitely need to create your own self-care practice. A longer period of time you can set aside and have a more elongated ritual for yourself.
Simple ideas for your self-care practice
If you are feeling stuck or unsure here are some of my suggestions and some of the things that I include in my own self-care practices. Both daily and otherwise:
Yoga is a beautiful and restorative practice that marries breath and body together and forces you to focus on your movements and be grounded in your body. There are many branches of yoga for you to choose from. So research a little first, and choose the one that feels most right to you.
Start of slow, and with maybe 20mins, and increase your practice time as you increase your skill and confidence.
You don’t have to stick to one type of yoga either. Try other modalities and have them as additional tools in your self-care arsenal to use as you need them.
This is definitely something that, if you haven’t already, you need to incorporate into your daily routine. No longer is meditation seen as a ‘weird’ thing to do reserved for hippies and monks. It has become more mainstream as more and more people discover its huge and many benefits.
Meditation, in essence is a practice to quieten and calm you mind. It also helps to improve focus and concentration the more you practice.
I have written a more detailed section on meditation in Get reconnected to yourself… (it’s no.5 in that post).
Journaling along with meditation is another form of self-care to find peace and quiet in your mind. It is also a wonderful way to make sense of your emotions and thoughts. Often just writing them out is enough to help you clear your mind and make sense of things.
Self-care is not just physical practice. It must cover all aspects of your health and wellbeing; mind, body, emotions, and soul. Doing the deep inner work is essential to making a while and happy human.
Journaling is in essence writing a diary of sorts. Or writing out your thoughts and feelings to help you understand them. A form of self therapy if you will.
There are many forms of journaling, do a few searches to see what stands out to you, or choose a method which comes naturally to you. A journaling practice doesn’t have to be long, 15-20 mins is a good start. But some people journal for hours. Whatever suits your need.
Of course seeing a professional to dig deep into your feelings, emotions and any traumas or events you feel are struggling through is the best way to deal with anything serious.
I know it’s not a cheap option, but sometimes it can be essential and necessary for your long-term health.
This a pretty new therapy. Like a sauna but with the added benefits of infrared light this is a wonderful way to treat your body.
The benefits of infrared include reducing pain and inflammation, including chronic pain. Boosting your immune system, improving circulation, relaxing muscle tension, helping to relieve stress and anxiety, and purifying your skin and naturally removing toxins through sweating. As well as relieving oxidative stress.
A hot bath is medicine for the soul. Or that is how it feels to me. This small daily ritual is renewing and refreshing. Hot water is both calming and relaxing to your muscles and comforting to your mind and body.
Add Himalayan salts and your favourite essential oils for some added benefits; cleansing toxins, relaxation, clearer breathing or skin moisturising depending on your needs.
And if you’re the kind of person who really like to pamper yourself – light some candles, turn on some soothing music, and grab a book. Reading in the bath always feels like such a luxury, and is the perfect way to let all those oils and salts work their magic.
Read a book
Reading a book is like escaping into another world, someone else’s life. For a short space of time you get to be somewhere else. Escapism or expanding your horizons?
Either way snuggled up in a cozy blanket with your favourite tea and a snack or two at had reading is a simple and effective way of spending a little time with yourself and letting your mind wander.
The choice of book (and snack) is up to you.
Of course it doesn’t have to be a mug of tea. Coffee, hot chocolate, turmeric milk, they all work just as well. It’s basically your comforting drink of choice. That simple practice of preparing and then sitting and hugging a warm mug to your chest whilst sipping and daydreaming / staring into space.
That is a little meditation practice of its own. And a perfectly acceptable way for you to spend some time. If this is something you enjoy, add it as you create your own self-care practice.
Sitting in nature
Nature is the biggest restorer of our health and peace of mind. It is balancing and grounding and good for the soul. Whilst your self-care practice is of your creation. You NEED to have nature and a connection to nature included when you create your own self-care practice.
Going off on your own somewhere, whether its surrounded by trees, at the beach, or near water. It doesn’t matter. Go somewhere where you can walk and wander, or wonder at the trees and plants. If you don’t want to walk then you can just find a quiet place to sit and listen to the wind, the birds, look for creatures. If you are bare-foot so much the better.
Being bare-foot allows you to literally connect with the earth through the soles of your feet and connect to the Earth’s vibration and magnetic field. We never used to wear shoes, and we have now lost our literal connection to nature and Mother Earth.
Gardening is another beautiful way to get into nature and connect with the Earth. When I say gardening I do NOT mean painting fences, chopping down trees, or any crazy strenuous activities. But gentle watering, weeding, tending. Getting your hands in the dirt.
This is all a wonderful way for you to re-connect with the Earth and get that connection we just discussed through your hands and fingers.
Sometimes the best way to feel better is to have a nap. An hour of sleep can do wonders for your mood and energy. Or if you are giving yourself a self-care day; sleep in for an hour or two. This isn’t lazy, its luxurious and indulgent, and you are absolutely allowed to treat yourself and your body to some extra rest. Your body does all of its healing while you are asleep. So extra sleep equals extra healing and more energy for your to use.
If you are one of those people that struggles to sleep during the day. Then just laying in bed and allowing yourself to relax can be restorative too. Close your eyes, let yourself daydream, or put on some gentle relaxing music and let yourself drift.
On the other hand when you are feeling very low and depleted, to the point where you feel like you are getting sick – that is the time to sleep regardless of what else you feel you ‘should’ be doing. Spend the entire day in bed!
They say ‘Sleep is the best medicine’ for a reason.
It may sound ridiculous to you. But crying is how your body releases built up and contained emotions. Sometimes we all just need a good cry to release everything, and its amazing how much better, and refreshed, you feel afterwards! I once heard crying described as a ‘soul shower’ and its a beautiful line that has stuck with me ever since. It is also completely accurate.
Water is cleansing. And cleansing emotions is freeing. It is not healthy to keep things inside and bottled up. That takes up your energy too.
So whether its through your meditation practice helping you to release, or you just stick on a tearjerker of a film. Cry.
Using essential oils
Scent and touch are healing. Essential oils can be used to scent your personal space – using a diffuser or adding the oils to a bowl of boiling water. You can use them with a carrier oil to massage onto your body. Or you can also use essential oils on the pulse points on your body; such as your wrists and behind the ears. The heat from these areas warms the oil and releases the scent around you as you move.
Each essential has not only a different scent but also a different healing ability. You can choose your essential oils purely for the scents they provide and how they make you feel. Or, if you feel the need you can look up some of the healing properties of your favourite oils and use them to relieve both physical and emotional/mental ailments.
You can also, as previously mentioned, add essential oils to your bath water. if you would like to find out more about essential oils and their healing uses these posts may be helpful: My Top 5 Essential Oils, Chakra balancing with essential oils, How to Use Essential Oils and Essential Oils for pain relief
There is also a place for pampering and those little details like face masks, painting your nails, getting a hair cut or a massage. While they are surface level they can all help to make you feel refreshed, renewed and revitalised in their own way.
But you need to be sure you are doing them for the right reasons: because they make you feel relaxed and good on the inside. Not because you feel you need to look or act a certain way for the World.
Massage and touch are good for helping relieve tension and anxiety. Face masks can be good for your skin and you can make your own at home too so they don’t have to be expensive.
Body brushing and oiling
Body brushing is something I would recommend to add to your daily morning routine before you jump in the shower or bath.
Body brushing is a really good way to get rid of dead skin cells, get your blood circulation flowing, help your body to flush toxins from your lymphatic system and can help reduce cellulite. It will also leave you with lovely soft skin too.
Body brushing is an Ayurvedic practice and as such the recommendations are for you to brush up towards your heart in circular motions. Starting at your feet and hands and working inwards.
Once you have had your bath or shower you can then massage a warming oil such as sunflower, sesame or coconut oil all over your body. Allow to soak in and either rinse the excess off or pat yourself dry.
I hope you found these suggestions for simple ways to create your own self-care practice useful. I would love to hear about your self-care rituals & what makes you feel good.
Until next time,