Photo by Enoch Patro
I believe self-care means taking care of your physical and mental wellbeing. This may seem like a basic human instinct, and that ‘I already do this?!’; however, the reality is, with busy jobs, potential families (old and young) and friends and neighbours who rely on you – often you don’t realise the damage you are doing to your physical and mental health until it’s too late. We’ve all had that one friend or family member who’s had a breakdown, right? It’s terrible and we wouldn’t wish this on anybody.
So, practising self-care, or actually changing your life to be much more mindful (we’ll cover this more below) of your physical and mental health, as well as your needs and self-care you will be much more able to tackle the challenges of life’s ups and downs much better. A stronger you, means a stronger network around you for the people you love.
Learning to be better at undertaking your self-care can be started at any age, I found this out at a very young age as you watch the people around you increasingly damage themselves physically and mentally. Primarily, through not being able to effectively overcome some of life’s terrible and often cruel situations it can put us in. Indeed, I’ve also learnt one’s mental health and how strong-minded one is, is extremely delicate and can be quickly affected by many situations in life that you can and can’t control.
Now, as a ‘thirty something’ I’ve put a list of 10 things together that I’ve learned over the years that help me try to be as strong as I can to get the best out of navigating through life whilst I’m fortunate enough to still be on the planet. The world is so connected and live 24/7 it is overwhelming for many young people to comprehend, there is no shield from being a child for long anymore in my opinion – you have to grow up fast and get smart fast to survive. This doesn’t mean I am a superhero or those that can’t are less so – it just means it is important to me to try practice these the best I can each day.
1. Master your digital life and notifications
If there is one thing I’ve learnt growing up through my late teens and twenties when the smartphone became a part of me – is that notifications are the devil. The complete devil that distracts and damages your mind. Especially social media and news that is particularly negative on the brain. I’m not going to get into the science of the damage long exposure has on the brain or sleep from a smartphone (or any screen for that matter) because this is irrelevant – this is about controlling your space and the information you choose to absorb daily. Constant bad news and negative social media do not take a genius to realise this is extremely damaging to your mental health.
If you do one thing from this blog, go into your phones settings (iPhone) and put on ‘Do Not Disturb’ scheduled between 10PM and 7AM (personal phone) (4PM to 8AM for work). Outside of these hours, the world is off, and I could not give a S***. Don’t worry if you have loved ones that may need you in an emergency, go into your Address book and make them ‘VIP’s’. So, if they call you twice consecutively the smartphone will know and wake you up, there is also an option to flick this on for everyone if need be. This video below will change your life, so go on, control your life and you will feel better after one day, with reduced anxiety and more focus.
2. Become a reflective practitioner
How can you move forward in life if you are not taking the time to reflect and learn what makes you tick? What you need to improve and what you need to recognise for your strengths and weaknesses? You can’t unless you take some time away from life and practice this, yes this is a practice!
The Reflective Journal book by Barbara Bassot is used by most professionals that deal with particular people such as health and social workers, councillors, teachers and the list goes on to be a professional reflective practitioner. The one you really need is The Reflective Cycle as shown below if you follow these steps, I can assure you, you will be a much more mindful (hold on we’ll get to this bit later) person moving forward.
3. Cooking healthy with confidence
Eating fresh fruit, vegetables and particularly fish are extremely important to me now. Finding food that is fresh, tasty and quick to cook has taken many years. However, I’m now more confident and have a good regular set of meals that I cook and enjoy. I feel so much better, I’ve also reduced my alcohol (ok a lie on Fridays as I love a good Chardonnay) and I also drink Green Tea with Lemon – Green Tea for me is just very refreshing throughout the day and there are claims of other health benefits.
I’m not advocating you become a person that measures all your food, sign up to meal prep blogs etc as this is just not sustainable for the average person and to enjoy life – just find some fresh meals you like. Practice cooking them regularly, again, yes this is practice and the one thing I wish I’d learnt at school as a child. I did not learn how to eat healthy until quite late in my twenties. So, this is very important to start as soon as you can.
In the UK we are super lucky, and a lot information is free from the NHS website, they have a great list of amazing ‘Eat Well’ recipes you should bookmark for sure:
4. Take up Yoga
If you can exercise, you should whilst you can. Working in Adult Social Care for over 10 years makes you realise your agility will not last forever, and it is great for the old Endorphins as they say and Yoga forms part of the next important aspect of self-care – mindfulness. I started Yoga in my early thirties, and it forms part of my morning routine to prepare me for the day.
5. Take a mindfulness course
Something I also picked up whilst studying for my masters was an 8-week course on mindfulness. At first, I was sceptical, and I did find this very hard, but in the end, I found this very useful and practice this every night before bed with some calming music. Make sure you have a regular sleeping pattern as well which is really important. The NHS actually now recognise this and believe taking the time to recognise the world around you, your thoughts and feelings helps your mental wellbeing.
6. Make something
This one has to be in my list as this is how I started zebomb and making bath bombs. I took time out for me that was away from my laptop and devices which is my full time job. It was lovely to switch off and actually feel and produce something that smelled so good and relaxed me. I also did not know I would end up creating a side hustle and improving my mental wellbeing which I talked about in my previous blogs 5 reasons handmade gifts supercharge your mental health and Time for self-care or you will probably burn out.
7. Get your legs moving for a walk
This one is exactly what it says on the tin, just go for a walk. I’m lucky to have the Lincolnshire Wolds around me so try and find your nice space to go for a walk and it will feel much better for getting some fresh air and I find I sleep better for it. This is how I discovered my love for British lakes, these spaces are lovely for me to practice my mindfulness and reflect whilst taking a break.
8. Understand gratitude
Make a list in your phone of all the great things you have in your life you are grateful for, as well as the ones about yourself such as trying to improve your self-care. Remember to also be kind, the definition is worth reading again:
The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
9. Recognise your achievements
I am terrible at this one myself, but it is really important to stop and recognise your achievements from time to time. I find this incredibly uncomfortable to receive compliments and praise but it is very important and reminds you of why you do the things you do and what values are important to you. So don’t forget to do this one, a simple list each month or year of some goals I find really useful.
10. Take a bath
My final step of course is to recommend you take a bath; a nice warm bath with music, candles, maybe a nice drink and some bubbles or bath bomb will relax and de stress your body. The Romans made an art of this for a reason, so treat yourself!
I hope these 10 ways to practice self-care give you some food for thought and this is the start of you being able to start a new journey. Why not start with the bath, unwind and check out the selection of 8 lake inspired bath bombs in the Shop that I hand-make from British ingredients.