Self care at it’s best is something that shifts based on what we need depending on what life is presenting us at any given time.
This year I’ve felt quite a big shift. On one hand I’m definitely more accepting of myself, but on the other hand I’ve noticed a few negative things ramping up – anxiety, stress and changes in mood and productivity linked with my monthly cycle.
I’ve noticed that I have way less mental headspace because of those things (hence the lack of blog posts lately!), and it then becomes a vicious circle when it comes to applying self care to help with them. Add in a run of niggling illnesses, neck and back pain and I’ve had a couple of months of feeling pretty sorry for myself!
It’s been humbling seeing how I can go from really feeling like I’ve got my shit together to feeling crap – but that’s life, it’s how you deal with what gets thrown at you that counts! And I have to add that I’ve had quite a lot of resistance at even sharing this – as someone who coaches and supports others around their self care there’s always a feeling that you should have it perfectly put together. But what I’m realising is that you so often teach what it is you need to learn yourself, and if anything, going through these experiences makes me more able to empathise with others going through the same thing.
Plus, when I really looked at things, there were some acts of self care I was really proud of. Calling my Mam for help, phoning the Doctors so I wasn’t anxious all weekend, calling a friend when I really needed to talk.
So, what does my self care look like with this in mind?
I sat down and wrote myself a list of all the niggling things I wanted to work on when it came to my self care (the question I always ask myself is ‘what’s not working’) – and it was quite a list! Everything from my pelvic floor and core strength to headaches to getting on top of life admin I was finding overwhelming. I used my trusty Google Keep to list all these things out of course!
One of the things that came out of that process was something I’ve called my self care triangle:
I realised that I couldn’t focus on all of those things I listed at once, but I needed to start with no more than three of the things that have the biggest impact and greatest knock on effect. For me, that’s sleep, healthy eating in an 80/20 style and movement. I know from experience that when I’ve got a handle on those things everything else becomes easier – it breaks the vicious circle of having no energy to be motivated to tackle life admin things, it gives me more head space to be productive, it means I’m more likely to stick at other habits.
Seeing these things as what makes up my triangle is a very simple and basic thing, but it’s flicked a switch in my head. Suddenly I really ‘get’ how important these are for me personally – I’ve connected the dots in a new way I suppose!
So while I’m focusing on those things primarily, I’m also taking a look at a couple of things that seem linked – stress and a bit of a funky menstrual cycle with increased anxiety and tender breasts in the week before my period.
The stress has been work related, as the brand design and website aspects of my business have really boomed (which is awesome!), I’ve become more and more busy because I always put 110% into any work I do for a client. I’ve had to take a step back, put a limit on how many of these projects I do at once (I’ve created over 6 websites since September) restructure how I do that work and really take a look at my boundaries and working practices.
Plus, I had an overwhelming about of life admin tasks – you know, all that extra emotional labour women tend to do like having to book dentist appointments, sort out mortgage documents, arrange this and that. I’ve asked for help, and as I type this I’m sitting on the sofa watching Star Wars while Finley is in nursery for an extra day – I recognised I just needed an additional day this week to get organised, write this post (which is also therapeutic for me!) and have a bit of time to myself.
I’m also looking into getting regular head massages to ease the tension in my neck and shoulders, practice more mindfulness and meditation and above all – rest when I need to rest. This is probably the hardest thing to do!
So that’s what self care looks like for me at the moment. Undoubtedly it will shift and change because #seasonalselfcare but I just wanted to share that story!
Can anyone else relate? What does self care mean to you?