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Wild Soul Therapist

self love

Self Care is Self Love

Put on your own gas mask first.

During an early morning session, my stomach started growling, quietly at first but soon turned
into a full-on roar. In response my client’s tummy started roaring back, and we both skipped breakfast in our rush to get to the session. Immediately I went to the kitchen and brought juice and biscuits and together we had a giggle before the conversation turned to the idea of self-care.

When I first was asked many years ago in a training course what self-care practice I had, I realised the answer was none. I had a broken stress ball somewhere but when it came to regularly checking in and having activities or stress techniques I had nothing in place. Over the years I have asked my clients this very question and more often than not received the same response. As sessions develop I witness clients learning how to self-care and put into practice techniques that manage stress and make sure their needs are being met. Often at the start clients struggle with feeling selfish, letting people down or not being nice. However, I see this change as clients feel more empowered to take care of their own needs.

We live very stressful and busy lives, often trying to balance kids, family, work, partners, bills, pets, well the list can be pretty extensive. Often in the day-to-day, we neglect ourselves, for those who are parents, who have these little people who are amazing and who depend on us and need us. Perhaps we forget parts of ourselves as we become mum or dad. Or perhaps it’s our work life that demands so much, late nights, stress, working overtime. Self-care is kind of like turning round to ourselves and saying ‘Hey there you, what do you need right now’.

Here are some self-care practices

1. Say No: It’s OK to say no sometimes and check in with your body and mind. Do you need a night in with a bubble bath and a movie after a very long and stressful week? Then do that. If you find you are often agreeing to things you do not want to do or have every weekend booked up with obligations which leave you feeling exhausted and pissed off. Book a weekend for you. If you automatically respond yes, begin to say let me just check and get back to you. This gives you a bit of time to check in with self. Create a checklist for self before committing to others, especially if you are prone to people-pleasing behaviours. Examples of checklist 1. Do have the bandwidth, energy or capacity to commit? 2. Do I need to take care of myself first?. 3. What does the commitment mean in terms of time, energy and investment? 4. Do I want to do this?

2. Breathe: Learn some deep breathing techniques, grounding visualisations and body relaxation techniques. These can be applied anywhere and anytime and are the most effective way to reduce stress and anxiety. Check in with your body, are you holding your breath or breathing too quickly? Are your shoulders tight and tense and hunched up? Take five minutes, drop those shoulders, relax the body and breathe deeply releasing the breath. Make this a daily practice so it becomes automatic.

3. Me time: Finding those activities that rejuvenate and reduce stress. Those times when we lose sense of time and can be focused and free of anxiety. If you haven’t found that activity look for it. It could be windsurfing, rock climbing, painting, singing, or dancing. Turn off Netflix. Book an evening a week for you. Know that those activities reduce stress and give you a break. Take time at least once a week to do this. Do an activity that is yours. We often get lost in our work, families and the general balancing act of life.

4. Boundaries: Know your boundaries. If something does not feel OK for you, say something. Self-care and self-love are the same thing. You deserve to have your feelings heard and respected. Recognise where your boundaries are and practice making others aware when something is not right or doesn’t feel OK for you.

5. Look after your body: Check in with the body. Are you eating well? Is your body exhausted and being pushed to the limit? Do you need to rest? Do you need to exercise more? Do you need to change your diet? Are you using unhealthy coping strategies? Your body won’t lie to you. It will let you know what it needs.

6. Create a self-care list: Construct your list of healthy ways to make you feel good. Reading, Meditation, Listening to uplifting podcasts, and music. Create that list and recognise when you need to use it. Self-care is something that is constantly changing as the needs of the body, mind and soul change. It is those daily actions we take to look after self. It is not only bubble baths and massages. It is saying no, it is choosing to go for a walk to clear the head. It is nature. It is choosing a meditation class over the pub. It is our everyday choices and decisions to take care of self.

7. Self-care means Do It Yourself: Don’t expect others to monitor what you need. Check in with your self, identify what you need and go out there and get it. Want your partner to surprise you for once with flowers? Go and buy yourself a beautiful bunch, you deserve them. Want an evening away from the kids, organise it. Stop waiting for someone else to give you what you need. You are giving away your power and your own ability to get your needs met. You do not need to ask others for self-care.

8. Seek support: If you wanted to lose weight, you’d join a gym or book a personal fitness instructor. If you want a night off, book a babysitter and get out there. If you are struggling with anxiety, depression, addictions, or trauma go see a therapist you gel with. Go for those changes that are important to you, that you want to make for yourself and devise a plan of action, enrol others to guide and support. Self-care is what you can do for yourself. Support is what others can do for you. Friends, therapists, PTs, Herablists there are many helpers out there that can support you to make changes or to look after self.

These are just a few examples of self-care practice, you probably already do some of this already. It is a good question to ask yourself and to think about so you can create your own list of self-care.

So what are your self-care practices?

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