Self Care – Looking After “Me”!

 

There are always times in our lives when we feel alone.  It might be that you’re the boss or you simply work from home or in an office by yourself.  It could also be that you’re a full time carer for children or elderly relatives.  Whichever it is, it’s likely that you spend all day looking after the interest or problems of others.

You’ll find yourself balancing, managing, facilitating, inspiring and advising.  Overworked and emotionally drained???  There is a solution.  Have you considered putting yourself first?

Right now I imagine you’re thinking how selfish that would be or  perhaps it won’t leave you with enough time in the day to deal with everything else you need to do.

There is evidence to prove that overtime and extended working hours can be associatied with general heath complaints including musculoskeletal disorders, cardiovascular disease, infections and diabetes, not to mention fatigue and stress.

“If you work consistently long hours, over 45 a week every week, it will damage your health, physically and psychologically. In the UK we have the second-longest working hours in the developed world, just behind the States and we now have longer hours than Japan,” Professor Cary Cooper – Lancaster University Management School.

Cary Cooper - World Economic Forum Annual Meet...

Cary Cooper Image by World Economic Forum via Flickr

On top of working long hours, we need to balance home life, family, relationships and so on.  Sacrificing  leisure time and self-care routines is therefore a consequence. Running yourself into the ground is possibly the worse thing you could do.  If you’re constantly stressed, drained and potentially bad tempered as a result this can lead to negative interactions with those around you.  In order to take proper care of others, you need to start with yourself.

By taking care of yourself first you will have more energy and be in a more positive mood.  Also you will be less likely to fall ill.

So, what does self-care involve?

Self-care means looking into all aspects of your life, understanding your needs, and developing techniques to address them.

Consider the following personal needs:

Intellectual – the need to expand your mind.

Spiritual – uplifting or inspirational aspects relating to your core values.

Emotional – learning about yourself and your needs.

Social – how you relate to others.

Physical – taking care of your body.

Are you in balance?  And that doesn’t mean equal amounts of time are spent in each segment, your personal and individual needs have to be fulfilled.

 

Self-care tips

Here are some suggestions for taking better care of yourself:

  • Make time for yourself.  Making small changes to your schedule could make a big difference.  Something as simple as buying groceries online might free up a whole hour.   Can someone else in the household assist with any tasks.
  • Put yourself at the top of your to do list and stick to it. Make an appointment with yourself daily, and keep it or schedule in some ‘me time’ during the day to go and have a coffee with a friend or take a walk – even just a long soak in the bath.
  • Keep things in perspective. Problems will crop up from time to time – just don’t let them be show stoppers.  Keep your eye on the important things in life, and don’t let small things throw you off course.
  • Don’t define yourself by your job or position alone. And you probably wear many different hats, you are a manager, parent, son, sister but you are also YOU.  Remember who that person is and be true to yourself.
  • Eat healthily. A healthy diet will give you more energy and vitality.  Set yourself a few basis rules e.g. including 5 portions of fruit and veg a day or limiting how much wine or chocolate you eat.  Include drinking water too to absorb vitamins and nutrients and detox. Dehydration causes headaches, fatigue and concentration problems.
  • Exercise regularly. As little as 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day will make a difference, leaving you more energised and positive. You can combine this with other activities e.g. walking to the shops or taking the kids to the park.
  • Get enough rest. There is nothing better than a decent night’s sleep for leaving you feeling fresh and energised.  7-8 hours is good for most people.
  • Look on the bright side. Challenges can get us down, but using a ‘flip it’ technique  to look for the positive in every event can make a real difference to your stress levels.
  • Laugh and have fun.  Laughing is proven to lift our mood .

Having spent so long putting yourself last, suddenly putting yourself first won’t  be easy, however like most thing practice makes perfect so keep striving for it.  And remember don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t achieve it every day.  Making little steps initially will really make a difference and once you’re in the habit – you can build on it.

 

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Look after yourself – Build a “self-care” plan. | katehobbs

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