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When it comes to self-care, the number 1 priority is
learning how to making sure we sufficiently rest and recharge.
Restore. Revitalise. Relax. Recover. Replenish. Renew. Revive. Refresh. It doesn’t matter what you call it, just make sure you refilleth thy cup!
In my last Self Care blog post I listed the barriers to self care and why it is essential that we make time for it. Today I want to look at the different ways we can ensure we make the effort, and if need be, create the time and space for that all important self care, starting with getting enough rest inorder to recharge our batteries, thus being able to live our desired life.
Do you ever have that gnawing feeling eating away at you with a never ending list of “shoulds” that need tending to before you are allowed to do something for yourself? You are hastily added to the bottom of said list, as an after thought, as another should, but the one that is perpetually just out of reach. If by some miracle you achieve the holy grail of “me time”, you are greeted by good ole’ guilt. How dare you be so lazy or self indulgent. Surely I can’t be only one to experience this?
But. I am getting better, much better, at saying Fuck It! I can’t be my best me if I am tired and running on empty. Trust me on that one…
Making the shift to incorporating even the tiniest of changes to prioritising self care is vital. Baby steps are good, they are a start and moving in the right direction.
So , back to actively achieving the goal of getting our required rest : here are my top tips for shooshing those “shoulds” that plague our thoughts and giving guilt the old heave ho.
1. No shit Sherlock! But seriously – how many of us get the recommended 8 hours per night? Nope, I thought not. Squeezing some “me time” in after the kids go to bed, and/or getting up super early before the rest of the household to grab an hour before the to-do list kicks in. Sound familiar? When I read Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Happier Life by Arianna Huffington earlier this year, she recommended scheduling bed time. Actually putting bedtime in your planner or on your calendar alongside dental appointments, work commitments, kids sports activities etc. It makes perfect sense. We wouldn’t be late for any of our other appointments, and our sleep is definitely one which we don’t want to miss. As practical an idea as it is, it is still a work of discipline to ensure the time is met.
2. Take a nap. Toddlers are proof that a nap is necessary to refresh and revive oneself. While we are obviously not toddlers, a quick 10-20 minute power nap has been proven, by science, to be incredibly beneficial to our well being, creativity and productivity.
3. Ditch the alarm clock, even just once a week (if you have kids and a partner, let your significant other get on with the breakfast routine and morning shenanigans) and rise with the sun. This sounds more appealing in the darker winter months, but what I am driving at, is to say, let your body wake naturally when it is ready, and therefore had enough rest.
4. If using your alarm, don’t snooze it. This may seem counter intuitive, as the more snoozes means the more rest, right? Nope, it’s a fallacy. The more you snooze, the more unrested you become, cue that groggy discombobulated feeling we get. The constant re-waking of the brain confuses it and makes us feel worse. *confession – I am a serial snoozer, sometimes every 5 minutes for up to an hour at a time!!!!!*
Oh yes, I love rituals. Some are sacred and others are probably more “routine” but ritual is far more pleasing a word.
1. First things first; making that first cuppa of the day. Morning routine – light a candle and make the act of preparing your cuppa, or preferred beverage, a daily ritual. Deliberate and conscious rather than just going through the motions – the candle helps here rather than the big light, especially in the dark mornings. Take time to enjoy the hot drink, savour the flavour (and the aroma if its coffee). Some folk may think this sounds a bit pretentious, but try it, it’s not and creates a really gentle start to your day.
2. Creating and having a meditation ritual takes practice but it soooo worth it.
3. Not all self care practices are solo efforts. One of the most powerful forms of replenishing my cup with restorative energy I have experienced was in circle. A women’s gathering/circle where the purpose it to bring us together, to support and encourage and share. Incredibly uplifting.
4. Personal rituals spread throughout the year and during each of the months in turn can make this element of self care so much easier. Living in sync with your own personal rhythm of your menstrual cycle. Charting it to learn and become familiar with where you are on your cycle and how you are likely to feel on certain days etc. My post here explains this process more fully.
Rituals for the New and Full Moon each month and/or the changing seasons help us to align with what is happening in nature and within ourselves.
5. Journalling – who didn’t keep a diary as a teenager? As an adult, journalling is a prominent feature in my life. I keep all sorts of journals : morning pages, daily planner, tarot card readings, dream journal, one specifically for when I am on my period, blog ideas and one even for notes on every life occurences as I observe them, to name a few. Having dedicated journal time allows me to plan and review, to brain dump everything, get thoughts paper before I forget or to track certain things at certain times. Journalling is a process which allows for calm and rest, it’s thoughtful and allows for reflection.
6. Affirmations. A great many people love affirmations and find them useful and inspired. Often affirmations are used each morning, looking in the mirror and reciting your affirmation to your self, selecting new affirmations at the New or Full moon, or on a particular day or at a particular time. Personally, I have not found them to work for me, I don’t feel comfortable or authentic reciting them, but that is purely my own take on them. The late Louise Hay has a phenomenal collection of affirmations, and in her book You Can Heal Your Life she shares many more within each of the chapters.
1. This may be a step too far for some people, but the thought of a pyjama day certainly has its appeal. One of the benefits of being a home educating parent, is the joy of a day of having nothing planned apart from a pj day. Total bliss. When I was working though, I threw the odd sickie for this very purpose. In hindsight I was really just looking after myself to recharge before going back to work the very next day. Not convinced my employers would have agreed though.
2. My preferred timeout has to be a long soak in the bath with a good book, wine and candles (lots of candles required if reading). Depending on my mood or when in the day I’m bathing, will determine if I am having a luxurious bath with gorgeously scented oil, such as my favourite NYR Organic Rose & Pomegranate Bath Oil or a fun bath bomb in a sweet nostalgic fragrance. The time in the tub can range from 15 mins to over an hour; that time is sacred and uninterrupted.
3. In my opinion, time out to escape can rarely be found anywhere else other than between the pages of a good book, but then I am a book worm. Magazines, brochures, comics, graphic novels, newspapers and blog posts, are perfect to pick up and dive into to have a little time out – be it on the commute to work if using public transport, in bed before going to sleep instead of
reading scrolling Facebook or Instagram, with a cuppa on the couch or in the park while your children play – this is one of my favourite place to read. My son is now at an age where I don’t have to be watching him every second, so can actually sit and enjoy my book while he burns off all that energy.
4. Music is another time out beauty that ticks all the boxes, whether you are listening to or playing an instrument. Getting lost in the music as it surrounds you. Music, is extremely evocative. Let go and dance or sing and join in in which ever way the music calls to you.
5. If TV is your jam, or you decide on having a pyjama day, if there are no distractions (such as kids requiring your attention) settle in for a binge fest of your favourite Netflix series. No guilt. It has something of a splendid indulgence to it. Some will tell you it’s a waste of a day off, but if you feel rested and have enjoyed the day watching Gilmore Girls, the naysayers can bugger off. This is your time out to do as you please.
6. Pamper yourself. Go on, you deserve it. It needn’t cost a fortune, you can do it yourself at home with ingredients from the fridge or with your best smellies. Give yourself a facial and a cleansing mask, a deep condition treatment for your hair, paint your nails, what ever you fancy **Note to self: remembering to take make up off at the end of the day and apply moisturiser is also considered self care!!** or treat your self at a salon for a professional massage or any other treatment that sounds like an hour of delicious down time. Get those essential oils burning and create a relaxing haven.
7. Hygge. Need I say more? Is there anything else quite complete for ensuring rest and relaxation than Hygge? If you are new to Hygge – check out my post from last year, I suggest you grab a cuppa before you start.
8. A time out can often mean saying NO and meaning it. When you say yes to all the stuff you are surrounded with day in day out and people are depending on you, it can be tough to say no. But saying NO, you must. The world will not collapse because you are finishing the chapter of your book or sitting in meditation
9. Edited to add : Remember when you were a kid and the simple joy that colouring in brought? Or the satisfaction from crafting “something”? I love just zoning out and creating something colourful for no other reason than “I like it”. If crafting is more your bag, I am going to suggest you take a look at Molly and Mouse for your crafting needs.
1. Quite literally, switch off and disconnect from all electronic media devices. Even if it is only for an hour or 2. This includes mobile phones, TV , laptop/tablet, especially switch off from social media and (work) email. I like to do a social media detox from time to time with a week long break. I once tried 30 days cold turkey, it did not end well – I ended up lurking without commenting, so it looked like I was on a break but I was only fooling myself. A day or 2 is much more manageable and beneficial. I don’t feel as though the world has ended or that I am too out the loop, particularly because I use FB daily for Home Education meets and discussions. A full week is truly refreshing but sadly no longer really practical for me. (Hmm, I must find a way round this).
2. Ditch the drama – real life or TV. We don’t need the stress of other folk’s dramas or being brought into arguments or getting all fired up about what happened on Celebrity Big Brother. Switch it off. Trashy TV does have its place if this is something you enjoy inorder to zone out and chill for a bit. Choose your drama wisely…its not restorative if you end up agitated or wired following an episode.
3. When we switch off the white noise and bustle to slow down, we reconnect with out senses. We notice more, feel more and appreciate more – put it to good use and go for a walk in nature, dance in the rain (preferably barefoot), tend to your garden or house plants, buy or pick flowers for your home or try some wild foraging and bake or cook with your bounty when you get home.
If looking at the list and thinking ” ahh, that would be nice / chance would be a fine thing”, I’m here to tell you that it is not only nice and it is indeed a fine thing, when the opportunity to do so is created or diarised. I’m also here to tell you that if you don’t make your own rest important, no-one else will. You don’t need anyone’s permission to stop, sit down and do something, anything, for yourself. If you still feel like you need permission to SLOW DOWN and chill without the guilts or nagging reminders that this, this and this has still to be done, I am giving you that permission. There, done!
Please remember that as women, we are cyclic creatures, just like nature itself. We are not built to keep going like a Duracell Bunny, in a constant linear fashion, or just like the bunny, we will eventually run out of juice. Burnout is not something to aspire to. Having been there and done that, I can attest that it’s not a badge of honour. Neither too is the stress, frustration and resulting resentment riding shotgun on the journey. Instead, we respect the ebbs and flows of our cycle through the month, and we rest, recharge and replenish as we need, be it daily weekly or monthly, or when YOU decided.
Now, please excuse me whilst I take myself off for a bubble bath and an early night (with no phone…who am I kidding? But I will endeavour NOT to check Facebook just before I go to sleep. I promise.)