This is a hot topic inside the wellness industry. Self care. Caring for ourselves. Taking the time to care for ourselves. It sounds so simple, and yet many of us find it so hard to do.
Self care is also a big part of mindfulness. When we practice mindfulness, we are getting to know ourselves. Slowing down and tuning into how we are in the world; in our minds, our bodies, our feelings. The more we know ourselves, the more we can recognise our needs and our patterns and can then make choices that are helpful and healthy for us. We become better equipped to practice self care.
But self care isn’t just about running hot baths, having massages and buying expensive, luxury products – although these can be very lovely and worthwhile things to do. Self care is about giving yourself what you need. Sometimes it is that hot bath and sometimes it’s something else. We have different needs for different moments. For example, if we have a couple of important emails that we haven’t got around to replying to and are niggling in our minds, or a couple of errands that we really need to run, then simply doing them maybe what we most need to do right now. Sitting in that hot bath with those niggles still unfinished, might ruin that peaceful bath moment. Or maybe we’re feeling restless, and perhaps doing some exercise would be the best way to take care of ourselves in that moment.
So being able to tune into ourselves is an essential part of self care. If we don’t know what we need, how can we give it to ourselves?
Here is a simple way to tune into what we need in the moment:
- Maybe you feel a bit our of balance and aren’t sure why. Perhaps you have a few moments to yourself and are wondering how best you can use them.
- Stopping and becoming aware of any thoughts you may have, any feelings, body sensations and/or urges. Seeing if you can just observe them, without judgement.
2. Tuning into your breath for 1 minute.
- Deliberately turning your attention to the feeling of your breath entering and leaving your body. Bringing your mind back each time it wanders off; as our minds nearly alwsya do.
3. Expanding your attention
- Expanding your attention back out into your body and the space around you, tuning in to how you are right now.
- Now asking yourself, what do I need right now? Maybe it’s:
A. Something pleasurable, a treat? For example, that hot bath, a massage, a delicious treat, a glass of wine. Doing something that feels indulgent.
B. A feeling of satisfaction or mastery? – getting a job done, like paying a bill, tidying up, sorting something practical, having that overdue, awkward conversation.
C. To be more mindful? Do you feel scattered and ungrounded? So doing something mindfully. Re-grounding yourself and bringing yourself back to the present moment. Sometimes just taking a few mindful breaths is enough. Or going for a short walk outside.
Of course, it might not be possible to give yourself what you most need right in that moment. As a mother of 3, I totally get this. I can’t just go and take that relaxing bath, if someone needs taking to football practice and someone else needs help with some schoolwork. But perhaps we can log this need in our minds and either do something doable and quick in that moment, or make a plan for a later time, or for another day for when that elusive bath is possible.
Another thing to consider, which I think is an important factor in this, is that the booming self-care industry implies that self-care is the end goal. If we buy lots of expensive products, we will feel better and rested. This may, of course happen and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with treating ourselves. But the point is that we need to take care of ourselves as a step to being able to live our lives well.
We simply cannot be the best version of ourselves, if we’re running on empty. We cannot do the things we’d like to or take care of others and those who need us. It’s the classic putting on your oxygen mask in the plane before you try and help others. Self-care is an essential, if we want to flourish in our lives, rather than just survive through the day until bedtime. It allows us to be the best version of ourselves in the world. What do you need to do to take care of yourself today?
Try this very short meditation to help you ground yourself and tune into what your needs are in the moment. Give it a try, it’s only 3 minutes. I’d love to hear what you think and any other thoughts you have on this topic in the comments below.
Have a lovely day, Susiex