Self-care is something that benefits everyone. We should all learn how to take good care of our body and minds from childhood, but unfortunately most of us don’t. Work and education are seen as more important. Then we have children, who we of course always put first, and by then we are middle-aged with well-established habits, and maybe it all feels ‘too late’ anyway.
Whichever phase of life you’re in, I really encourage you to think about how you take care of yourself. Consider what you could do to support your body and mind, so that they can then serve you as you live out your chosen path in life.
So far we have covered several aspects of self care:
- Learning to identify stress
- Nourishing your body with food
- Keeping physically active
- The value of refreshing sleep
- Fostering strong relationships
- How gratitude can help
- Reframing difficult situations
- Relaxation techniques
- The power of meaning and purpose
The intention isn’t for you to suddenly implement all of these things. In fact, that would usually be counter-productive. Some of you will have many areas that could do with some attention, while some of you will already be doing several of the things I have listed above. Whichever point you are at, I encourage you to choose just one thing to start off with. Choose something you feel is achievable. Try it out. Experiment. Do you like it? Does it feel good? Do you think it helps? Examine the experience with an open mind. Nothing works the same way for everyone, and the purpose is to find what things help you.
As well as working on your own self-care, Christmas is a great time to care for those around you. Emerging research indicates that compassion for others may increase your own happiness, make you more optimistic, reduce worry, and improve relationships and empathy. Keep an eye out for friends, family or colleagues who you think might be particularly at risk of struggling at this time of year. You might be able to be the person to support them. You might be the only person who lets them know you have noticed their struggle, and sometimes just that acknowledgement can make a big difference.
While it’s all still fresh in your mind, find a blank page in your diary, or make a note on your phone, and jot down aspects of the festive season you have struggled with this year. Then just set it aside until a few months into next year, maybe March or April. At that time, go through the list and plan ways that you might improve the process for next year. These may be things related directly to your health, as I have discussed in these blog posts, or it may be more practical things, such as prioritising buying gifts in August to avoid a last minute rush, strict spending limits to avoid financial strain, or delegating more to other family members.
If you feel you would benefit from some extra support implementing any of these things, your General Practitioner is a great person to talk to. Don’t forget to ask for a long appointment if you would like some extra time to go into things more thoroughly. You could sign up for my series of emails, which take you through some practical steps, and reinforces some of the concepts in this blog series. I would love to have you join us in our closed facebook group to hear more tips and share your journey with like-minded people.
If you feel that you require urgent support, and particularly if you have thoughts of harming yourself or others or suicidal thoughts, there are emergency contacts available:
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636
Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800
Emergency services: 000
These are Australian services which are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you require services in other countries, CheckPoint have a helpful website to assist you find local services.
Next week, keep an eye out for my post all about New Year’s Resolutions – should you make them? How should you make them? How can you keep them?