I did a live broadcast on self care a few days ago which has turned out to be very timely. I was discussing what self-care has come to mean and that over time it seems like a vague and disparate concept; something disingenuous which people seem to throw around like it's confetti. It's like the phrases 'me time' and 'de-stress' which can mean such different things to different people - the message seems to have got diluted over time and I for one, want to reclaim what self-care actually means and why it is so important
I was once asked what sort of self-care ideas I may give to a new mother which is something that I find really difficult to do: generally the people who need the most time to take care of themselves are those with the least amount of spare time - new mums are absolutely no exception to this! In fact, new mums, in a haze of tiredness and navigating a whole new life dynamic, can be pretty vulnerable and when you're in the rabbit hole of that haze, someone piping up that you need to find time to do 'self-care' can pretty much be the last thing that you need to hear. 'Great, another thing to fit on my endless to do list' or 'amazing, something else I am failing at!' are things that people have said to me in the past.
Self-care doesn't need to be about manicures and spa days, in fact it probably shouldn't be about that at all! That's pampering which is awesome, and if you're finding time to do that then brilliant work, do carry on! whereas self-care is more grass roots than that.
One patient said to me 'I'm taking my herbs and supplements, that's my self care' and it totally makes sense. Actually, when you have zero free time then yeah that absolutely is self care. When your herbs start to work their magic and you begin to feel a little calmer and less overwhelmed then it is often possible to work in that ten minute yoga session, the five minutes in the morning to set intentions or the half an hour for a shower (imagine that, a whole thirty minutes!)
Eating well is another one which is a huge way to contribute to self-care. As much as a takeaway can be a lifesaver, it shouldn't be a cornerstone of your daily diet. Slow cookers have saved me over the years, even in the heat of the summer! Most recipes can be adapted for a slow cooker and it saves so much time and energy. I actually tend to use pre-chopped veg for when I need to save time, so it means that I am getting good nutrition and it's not taken me hours to prep which is what can often be offputting when you're stretched and exhausted anyway.
I went to a talk recently with Sarah Ockwell-Smith and she mentioned the app Headspace (other apps are available) with these apps, you can access short mindfulness or meditation sessions which you can slot into your day. Now, this can seem like a huge ask when you're already super busy but Sarah had a solution - meditation when you're doing a poo! Take that five minutes to open your bowels and be mindful and take some time out to relax. Ultimate multi-tasking!
And so why is this timely? Well even the best of us let self-care slide and I am no exception. Recently my self care has slid so badly that I haven't been taking my supplements, my herbs sit untouched and my exercise log is bare. As a result, I've fallen ill this weekend and am feeling very sorry for myself.
So, I need to shoehorn in that self care again, starting with the very small things, the taking the supplements, drinking enough water, shoving extra veg in my food and walking when I can. I may even chuck a bunch of flowers into the weekly shopping just to remind myself that I'm bloody awesome.
What's your favourite low-maintenance self care?