My Top 10 Self Care Tips
Self care is something that gets pushed aside in the busy lives that we lead. Having so many commitments and expectations of getting things done can be exhausting. Personally, I have a tendency to put a lot of people before myself and I often feel selfish or guilty for putting myself first. It took me a while to understand that this is definitely not the case. I am not a selfish person for saying ‘no’, nor am I a selfish person for putting my needs above others. When you have a chronic illness, it makes you feel even more guilty when you already have to cancel plans and your life begins to revolve around what kind of day you’re going to have according to your pain.
I went to a seminar on self care earlier in the year. A point that raised my attention was when they showed an image of two people sitting on a plane and the oxygen masks had dropped down. The image was portraying the importance of putting the mask on yourself first in order to help others put theirs on. If you were to put someone else’s on first you would begin to feel symptoms and eventually lose consciousness leaving you unable to help others. It’s exactly the same in everyday life. If a watering can provides water to the plants until it is empty but doesn’t get filled up again, how can the plants grow? How can we expect to give all of ourselves to everyone unless we take the time to give back to ourselves?
In the beginning of my self care journey, a huge wall in my path was financial concerns. I associated self care with going to the spa, going on a holiday, treating myself to material items. How was I supposed to afford all these self care days on a part time wage? This was when I discovered all the free or low cost ways to care for myself. I didn’t realise how easy and non time consuming these activities could be. I began to notice improvements with myself and how I felt throughout the day. Even the smallest self care act could turn my mood around.
The best way to start is to look up self care ideas on the internet, there is no short supply of tips out there so be adventurous. I also made a list of things I enjoy doing, that make me smile, that make me feel more beautiful, and make me a better person. I try to do a minimum of one thing from my list each day, even if I feel there is no time to do anything else. I won’t sit here and preach to you that I make the time every single day and so should you. Some days I hardly have a moment to myself and it definitely takes a toll on my body and mind. When you really can’t find time to do something for yourself, the alternative is to try and look at your daily activities differently and find something positive out of them. It can be super hard and frustrating at first but over time it changes your thought process and helps make tedious time consuming tasks a little easier.
To get you started, I have written a list of my top ten free or low cost self care ideas to help you on your journey. I challenge you to take a moment for yourself each day and try one activity. Over time you find a flow and it makes life so much better. You will find that you have more of yourself to give to others when you give back to yourself. Enjoy :)
#1 Read a book
For me, there is nothing better than a fresh new book to take me to another world. I have lived thousands of lives without every leaving my own. There is something truly beautiful about the imagination and reading a good book.
#2 Tidy your space
Never underestimate the power of tidying your space. I don’t mean doing a massive clean. Just put things away, make the bed, puff the couch cushions, wipe the kitchen over, light a candle, and let some light in the room.
#3 Watch something that will make you smile
Disney, pixar, comedy festivals. Whatever makes you smile or gets a laugh going, do it. Release those endorphins!
#4 Freshen up
Ah the power of warm water, minty toothpaste, and fresh clothes. Even on my absolute worst days when I am curled up in bed with a heat pack on my abdomen, I make sure to get out of bed and freshen up. If that’s the only thing I do that day, that’s an accomplishment.
#5 Speak to someone
Isolation is the biggest social issue we are facing with chronic illness. There are plenty of people on instagram in the endo community who would love to message and chat about their day. Some days I just message my mum or a friend. It doesn’t have to be a long phone call, just something simple.
I don’t mean sitting on a yoga mat and humming oms. Simply sit for a few minutes and breathe. I like to put a calming song on spotify and just listen to the words.
If you are able to then get some fresh air. Go for a walk, do some gentle exercise, move your body somehow. On really bad days when I’m in bed, I will force myself to move to the couch or sit on the balcony in the sunshine for a while. Static blood flow isn’t good for endo, simple and gentle movement can help. My favourite thing to do is blast some good music and dance around in my living room. I often have dance breaks at work with my colleague to get our blood moving throughout the day.
#8 Plan something to look forward to
A weekend getaway, a holiday, dinner with friends, date night, something you’ve never tried before… anything that will give you something to be hopeful and excited for. Planning ahead is so difficult with chronic pain so do it within your comfort zone, but don’t give up on the life you want to lead.
#9 Colouring book with music
This isn’t for everyone but I absolutely love colouring books while listening to some music. I’ve always been crafty so this is a very calming activity for me. If you don’t like colouring then try journalling, writing poems, playing musical instrument, or just listen to some music.
#10 Something to make you feel more beautiful
My personal favourites would be waxing my eyebrows, shaving my legs, washing my hair, body scrubs, at home mani/pedi, and coconut oil hair and body treatments. Whatever makes you feel good about yourself.