5 Tips on Self-Care
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I recently released a podcast on the importance of self-care and have detailed it below.  If you prefer to listen to the podcast head over to Spotify Podcasts and search for Confidence and You and check it out.

Recently, I had a medical event, an episode you might call it, and it was a big wake-up call for me, and it helped me to recongise that I haven’t been exercising enough self-care for myself.

A lot of women, in particular, men do also experience it, but women, in particular, feel that if we take the time out for ourselves, it’s being selfish.

Well, I’m here to tell you today it’s not.

It most definitely isn’t taking time out for yourself and having a little “me time” and exercising self-care is vitally important to you and to those close to you in your life.

Because if we can’t look after ourselves and put ourselves first, our needs first. How are we meant to look after others? If we’re not recharging ourselves if we’re not filling up our own cup, if we’re not nurturing and nourishing ourselves, how are we going to be at our best to care for and give to others?

And all too often we try to give from an empty cup. And whilst it’s noble, it’s not always effective.

Recently, I realised I was taking on too much. I was really busy with work, doing things for my family (because we have a bit going on across the extended family), maintaining the status quo at home and trying to keep in touch with friends and . . . it was just too much.

Exercising self-care and setting some boundaries is a really important part of looking after your life, yourself and helping you build your confidence, because when you’re low when you’re depleted, you’re not able to see things clearly and your confidence wanes.

When you’re overloaded, constantly having things coming at you, and you become overwhelmed or feel yourself becoming stressed, your mind is not able to process and function normally, and then you start to beat yourself up because you’re not making good decisions.

But we’re not making good decisions because we haven’t fed our brains.

We haven’t fed our bodies. We haven’t fed our souls. We haven’t allowed ourselves time to do physical activity. All of these things contribute to us not being at our best, not performing at our best.

So today I want to emphasise the importance of self-care and being kind to yourself and letting yourself feel feels when you’re in that slump, and in that low place but not getting stuck there, not wallowing in it. But feeling the feels and allowing yourself to recognize, acknowledge and move through them. 

And when you’re in a better space, you can reflect on that and make a plan so that next time you see that coming or you’re in a similar situation, you will be able to respond differently.  Be able to take steps to look after yourself, to step back, delay, remove yourself from all of that for a bit and take time to reset.

In today’s world, we’re all busy and if you’re a parent or you’re caring for a loved one, whether that be a sibling, a friend, a grandparent, or whoever it might be a child, it doesn’t matter, the demands are even greater.

You’re probably juggling a lot of things. You’re juggling your stuff, you’re juggling their stuff.
You’re trying to do the right thing for everybody. You’re probably missing out on doing social things with your family or your friends.

There’ll probably be something that you’re giving up at the moment to find time to put someone else’s needs first.

And if you’re putting everyone else’s needs ahead of your own, you’re not in a boat by yourself because we’re all there or we’ve all been there in the past. So taking some time to stop, reflect and become aware that you’re doing that is the first step.

And for me, that was a really big awaking recently that I was putting everyone else’s needs ahead of my own, and it ended up with me having a short stay in the hospital, which wasn’t great. But anyway, I’m OK now – my point is, taking some time for yourself is vitally important to refresh, replenish, reboot and reconnect with you, and those around you.

Stop and take a moment now to consider what’s happening for you.

Are you fully charged and running well and doing great, or are you a little bit depleted and you need to make some time to replenish?

And if you’re feeling in those states, sometimes do you make time to fill up your cup to fill up your bucket?

Or are you letting your bucket dry up or we’re still, as in my case recently, has your bucket developed a crack that you’re trying to fill?

But it’s hard to refill because everything just keeps flying out of that crack, and it might even have a hole in the bottom of it because you’re putting everyone else needs, wants, and demands ahead of your own – of what you really need and want for yourself to recharge.

Now that we’ve discussed this, you can become aware of how we fall into this routine, this societal expectation that as women, as carers, we should put others first.  Well, that’s bullsh*t ! 
We need to put ourselves first.

You’ll hear me refer to this saying a lot – “with awareness comes choice”.
Now that we’ve highlighted this norm, think about where you’re at and become of how you handle others’ demands, how you priories their wants and needs and where you put your own.  Understand the state or habit that you’re in, it might even be that you hadn’t even noticed this pattern before.

And now you’re having time to stop and think about . . well, do I really do that, and if you do, it’s okay.
There’s nothing to be ashamed of wanting to help others so long as it’s not detrimental to your own health and wellbeing.

If however, it is impacting or negatively affecting you and your wellbeing, then I strongly encourage you to think about re-prioritising and putting yourself first, or putting yourself further up the ladder.

Now that you’re aware that this happens to a lot of us, and if you fall into that category, you now have a choice to do something different.

Here’s some tips to help you create change and do things differently, because if you don’t look after yourself, no one else will.

If you don’t put your oxygen mask on first every time in the plane, you can’t help others, and you may not survive, and therefore you’re not doing anyone any favours.

So buckle up.

Here’s five tips to help you consciously practise self-care in this current chaotic, busy world,

𝟏. 𝐔𝐬𝐞 𝐥𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐮𝐚𝐠𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐛𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐚𝐝𝐯𝐚𝐧𝐭𝐚𝐠𝐞.
Challenge your inner critic, that little voice inside your head that pops up with that negative self-talk. Just stop and challenge it – challenge those automatic thoughts.
Be aware of that person inside your mind. Are they helping or hindering you?
Your self-talk is the most powerful thing you have in your toolkit,

𝙃𝙚𝙧𝙚’𝙨 𝙝𝙤𝙬 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙘𝙖𝙣 𝙙𝙤 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩.
Every day for the next seven days observed that little inner dialogue that’s going on for you – really notice it.
Become mindful of how you think and how that makes you feel.  Check yourself.

Are you building yourself up? Are you pulling yourself down?

Are you thinking positively? Are you thinking negatively and whatever you’ve got going on inside your mind, that inner dialogue?

Would you say or use those words that you’re thinking about yourself to a close friend or someone you love?

If you’re having that negative self-talk, catch yourself and rephrase.

Here’s some common things that I’ve heard people tell me that they have experienced as their negative self-talk.
“𝘐’𝘮 𝘴𝘵𝘶𝘱𝘪𝘥 – 𝘐 𝘤𝘢𝘯’𝘵 𝘥𝘰 𝘢𝘯𝘺𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘳𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵”
Replace that with “oops that didn’t work, but look what I’ve learnt from it”.
Next time I’ll do things differently.

“𝘐𝘵’𝘴 𝘯𝘰 𝘶𝘴𝘦 𝘵𝘳𝘺𝘪𝘯𝘨. 𝘐’𝘮 𝘢 𝘧𝘢𝘪𝘭𝘶𝘳𝘦. 𝘐 𝘯𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳 𝘴𝘶𝘤𝘤𝘦𝘦𝘥𝘦𝘥 𝘢𝘯𝘺𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨”
 Rephrase that with
     “I can do this, just one step at a time”

Don’t look too far ahead – just one step at a time.

If you catch that inner voice saying something negative replace those thoughts, with other things you’ve got going on, catch them and rephrase them to the positive because if you 𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐚𝐲 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐥𝐨𝐨𝐤 𝐚𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐬 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐥𝐨𝐨𝐤 𝐚𝐭 𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐞.

𝟐. 𝐩𝐚𝐲 𝐚𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐭𝐨 𝐰𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐞𝐚𝐭 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐡𝐨𝐰 𝐢𝐭 𝐦𝐚𝐤𝐞𝐬 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐟𝐞𝐞𝐥.
Some foods fuel us, and some slow us down. Comfort food is ok – occasionally. 
But eating junk food every day isn’t helping you in the long run.
Are you fuelling your body appropriately?
Are you eating enough food in general?
Are you skipping meals because you’re too busy or you just don’t feel like eating?

Doctor Michael Mosley cites the importance of good bacteria in our microbiome or gut health, and it’s important that the food we put into our body is fuelling us. It feeds our body to be able to physically move, but it also has a major impact on how we think and feel.

Our gut health is really important, and about 95% of our serotonin is produced in our gastrointestinal tract, which means what we eat can and does affect our mood. Serotonin.

Our body helps us sleep better, moderates our appetite and affects how we feel.

Have you thought about how you’ve been feeling lately and whether what you have been fuelling your body is impacting your mood?

Next time you’re feeling a bit not quite right, have a look back at what you’ve been eating and see if there’s any correlation between what you’ve been feeling your body with and how you’re feeling.

𝟑. 𝐌𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐞 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐟, 𝐜𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞 “𝐦𝐞 𝐬𝐩𝐚𝐜𝐞” 𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞 “𝐦𝐞 𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐞”.
I invite you to trial blocking out 30 minutes each day and do something that lifts your spirits.
That makes you smile. That makes you happy. That fills your cup.

Make time for yourself, just you by yourself.

It might be going for a walk. It might be having a bath might be cooking yourself a nice breakfast going and having a coffee, making a yummy lunch, doing a crossword or reading a book.

Whatever it is for, you carve out some not negotiable me time in your day, a dearly 30 minutes.

But if you can’t make 30 to 10 or 15 to a quick meditation.

Do something that makes you re-energise and reset. And if you’re in a relationship, discuss this with your partner and make sure that you’re both aware of when you’ve carved out your 30 minute “me time” break.

It might be that you share the chores or someone does the morning one, and someone does the afternoon run with the school or whatever it is for you.

But just make those living with you, aware that your 30 minute time break is just for you.

Once you get into a routine of having your short meantime break, it’s something that you will find so valuable and so re-energising and you’ll notice how much more effective you are in all other areas of your life when you prioritise and make some time for yourself.

It is so important to do something each day just for you.

The next tip is
𝟒. 𝐖𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐞 𝐒𝐭𝐮𝐟𝐟 𝐃𝐨𝐰𝐧

Write down anything that is on your mind or that you’re still carrying with you from the day.
Anything that is going to be on your mind – things that you want to do tomorrow, write it down or put it in your phone.

Get it out of your mind and on a piece of paper so that when you go to bed, you can relax, knowing that you’ve made a note and you’ll remember tomorrow.  That will relax your mind and allow you to drift off to sleep more easily.  And if you’ve been carrying around any negative self-talk or self-doubt about anything, write that down as well. Just write it down. Don’t judge it. Write it down. And release it from your thoughts.

And if there’s negative self-talk in those notes, look at it the next day with ‘hindsight’. You will be able to view it with fresh eyes with different eyes, because sometimes when we’re in the moment, things can seem a lot more daunting than what they actually are.  Allowing yourself that time to step away from the issue and view it the next day can allow you to process and see things differently.

If you can actually use a pen and write, that is a very cathartic process.  And it can help you look back at patterns of handwriting and how you were feeling when you’re writing things and identify any things that might be triggering you.

𝟓. 𝐂𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐚 𝐠𝐨𝐨𝐝 𝐛𝐞𝐝𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐞 𝐫𝐨𝐮𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐞
Anyone who’s been around Children or who has had Children will know that routine is really important.  𝗔𝗻𝗱 𝗶𝘁’𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘀𝗮𝗺𝗲 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗔𝗱𝘂𝗹𝘁𝘀!

That’s because neurologically we get used to doing things in a certain way, at a certain time and our brain kicks in and knows that that’s what’s going to happen in that environment.

So creating a good bedtime routine for yourself is very beneficial.

Ideally, turn your phone off when you go to bed. Or, better still, leave it in another room.
Cut back on caffeine in the afternoons and evenings so that your body has time to just release any caffeine that you’ve had during the day and create a nighttime routine where you allow yourself some time for your mind to just relax, let go and drift off into sleep.

This could be reading.
It could be meditating.
It could be simple stretching exercises, listening to sleep stories or short meditation before you drift off into sleep.
It could be having a shower . . . whatever works for you, but create the same routine and do it as much as you can
And keep that nighttime routine and form a habit of how you plan for and relax before you get into bed.

I hope these tips are useful and that you practice some or all of them. I’d love to hear how you got on.

Move forward with confidence, love and light.

About the author

Helen Luxford is a Leadership Coach, Hypnotherapist and NLP practitioner.  Helen’s passion is helping  stressed professionals turn overwhelm and uncertainty into calm and confidence in 6 weeks or less.

Helen is an experienced Executive and HR Leader.  Helen combines her corporate experience with her qualifications and skills in coaching, Neurolinguistic Programming and Hypnotherapy to provide tailored programs for her clients. 

 

Helen is the co-author of Amazon best-selling book, Heart Centred Leadership.

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