Monday, 8 October 2012

Self Care


It’s no secret that I've had a bit of a tough year. Getting to grips with doing a PhD, three bereavements within a month and an unwanted house move just when everything was at its peak; No, this year hasn’t been easy, but I’m starting to realise that I may have made it much harder on myself than it needed to be. In the midst of everything that’s happened, I forgot to take the time for self-care. My mum might call it looking after myself; my counsellor calls it being kind to myself. Whatever you want to call it, I haven’t been doing it, and this year has been much, much tougher than it needed to be.

As is often the case, I only realised what had been missing because I took the time to do it again. Over the last few weeks, I have tried to really been kind to myself, and I’ve found a few things that have really helped my mental and emotional well-being. And this post is as much to remind myself to keep doing them as anything else.

Over the last few years I have noticed that some of the lowest points in my life have occurred when I haven’t been actively cultivating my spiritual journey. I know that correlation and causation are not the same thing, but I’ve never liked coincidences. I feel much better in myself, much more grounded when I’m taking the time to ask questions about the universe, and to learn or ponder on the answers that feel right to me. I won’t say too much more here because I plan on doing a no holds barred post on my spiritual beliefs, but I will say that I have felt much better for taking the time to sit by myself and ponder my purpose and how I want to live my life. Two of the books that have been most useful to me of late are The Art of Happiness by His Holiness the DalaiLama and Mastery by George Leonard.

The other major component in my well-being seems to be the pursuit of some sort of creative endeavour. Last week I started work on part of my Halloween costume. It involved lots of papier mache, and I found it extremely relaxing doing a little bit every day. It reminded me of the reason I picked up painting this summer; it gives me something tactile to do, that is relatively simple and doesn’t involve my brain as strenuously as the rest of my life does. I have also found refuge in the creation of macramé or shambala bracelets. The fact I gain the same amount and kind of pleasure from a variety of crafts suggests that it is the tactile and creative nature which is most beneficial, and I should set aside some time every week, if not every day for creative pursuits.

The rest of what I’ve found seems to be on a smaller scale that the two things mentioned above, but can be exceedingly helpful in diffusing a stressful situation. Taking refuge in a cup of tea, taking time to brew it carefully and sip it slowly is of immense benefit to me. Likewise, taking the time to run and have a bath is extremely relaxing and can rescue a bad day. Other than that, my priority is to learn to expect less of myself; to be able to admit my limitations and be okay with them. And I’m learning that sometimes I just need to remove myself from a situation, take a day off and do whatever I want to do so that I can return refreshed.

That to me is self-care; the little things as well as the big that make an impact on my day to day life, my well-being and my ability to perform well in anything.

What does self-care mean to you?

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