Many people have remarked on how well I’m coping with all the setbacks I’ve faced in my life, especially this year. Developing resilience doesn’t come naturally, it needs to be learned and nurtured. I thought I’d share some of the ways I incorporate self care into my daily routine, and hopefully inspire others to develop their own resilience.
Until I prioritised my own self care needs, I was a bundle of nerves to the point of social anxiety. I had difficulty enforcing my boundaries so that I was a punching bag for others’ abuse. My self esteem was so low that I had absolutely no confidence. If I did speak up I was knocked back down so I built up barriers and sunk into my shell.
I went to therapists and they helped to some extent but I still lacked confidence. Getting really fit helped with my self image but I was still lacking in self esteem. Even though my external appearance was the best it had been for years, my inner self was struggling with self doubt and negativity. I was rushing around trying to fit all my responsibilities into my daily routine, which left little time for myself.
The real change came last year, when I finally lost a lot of weight. I had a coach for my weight loss program who rang me every three weeks, not only to set goals with me, but also to give me positive feedback about my progress. Having that regular contact helped me lose over 17kg and graduate early from the program.
That success gave me so much confidence. The changes I had made included regular exercise, a new healthy diet with lots more vegetables and the joy of cooking and gardening. With it came the realisation that I had to prioritise self care.
My top tips for self care are:
- Get outdoors daily. Natural light is better for you
- Ladies wear makeup (even just tinted moisturiser and mascara) even when you’re not going out, and men shave. You feel better about yourself when you’re groomed. It goes without saying, but shower and brush your teeth too. You’d be surprised how many people don’t, as a nurse you see it all. Wear clothes that make you feel good, and that make you look good too.
- Exercise daily, even just a walk. You will get natural endorphins.
- Eat healthy food and drink plenty of water. Eating junk food depletes your energy and will have long-term repercussions if you base your diet around it.
- Listen to your body. If you’re tired, rest.
- Have regular massages, beautician visits or manicures purely for the enjoyment of it. If this is outside your budget, you can do at-home spa sessions . My favourite routine is a soak in a bubble bath with a face mask on, and lovely soft music playing, followed by beautiful scented body lotion. I definitely make time and room in my budget for regular professional massages though because it helps me manage my chronic back pain.
- Listen to the sound of water. We have a pond with a fountain and the sound is so relaxing. You can get the same effect from white noise apps or a small water feature. Bubble baths, swims in the ocean and looking at waves lap on the shore are also calming.
- Practice gratitude. Regularly write down a list of all the things you’re grateful for. Thank other people too, it goes a long way.
- Spend time with your pets and loved ones. If you have young children or grandchildren play with them. Being around pets and children allows you to see things from a different perspective. Play games with them and their laughter will cheer you up.
- Hug someone! Social distancing laws made this impossible and a lot of people struggled with not being able to have physical contact with their loved ones. I really missed not being able to hug my best friend and relatives that didn’t live with us.
- Do something creative for example drawing, painting, baking, music or writing. I found a great colour-by-numbers App, very similar to the paint-by-numbers paintings we did as children. It’s so relaxing. Jigsaws are also calming.
- Write in a journal daily – my article Journalling as a Self Care Activity has free printable journal prompts to get you started.
- Use your brain – do crosswords, puzzles or Sudoko. Learn something new like a language or skill.
- Read books written by people who are inspiring in some way. I’ve read a lot of books by people who have faced the worst adversities and come through them. That gives me confidence to tackle anything that comes my way.
- Have less screen time. Avoid reality TV especially – it’s just trash. Only watch news from trustworthy sources – don’t get all your knowledge from Facebook and Instagram. Knowledge is power, so don’t get sucked into believing everything you read or hear.
- If you’re sick stay home. I know we’ve heard that constantly this year but I’m shocked by how many people go to work and school when they are sick. By resting and recuperating your body has a chance to heal. If you’re working and mixing with other people, it takes a lot longer to fully recover and you’re passing it on to other people. Those people may have compromised immunity or other health issues which would lead them to develop much worse illnesses than you.
- Most important – reach out to someone if you are not coping. There are resources there to help you. Avoid people who suck your energy from you or make you feel worse. These are some help lines available in Australia:
Once you start prioritising self care, it will become part of your daily routine. It will be easier for you to assert your boundaries and say no to people. Your confidence will grow, and you’ll feel so much better within yourself. You will be more resilient when life throws unexpected stresses and crises your way.
Go on, you deserve it.
Please share if you enjoyed my article. I would love to hear what your tips for self care are in the comments below.
Please note: I am not a registered mental health practitioner. The information provided in this article is for general informational and educational purposes only and should not replace information provided by your own mental health practitioner. Please refer to my Disclaimer
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