Self-care is one of those trendy ideas right now. It’s a funny mix with people who are ‘typically Kiwi’, and are ‘just getting on with it’, and for the most part that’s ok. But, sometimes it’s not. Leading up to Christmas, I find it an ideal time to reflect on what I can manage, and what I have to do to help myself manage.
Tara Brabazon advocates for the idea of self-care, noting “it is a bit of philosophy and a bit of science”. In this two-part series, I have combined her thoughts, gems from Gretchen Rubin, and my previous knowledge to bring you some practical ideas.
Mental fog, fear, stress, short temper, and exhaustion are some of the main signs of needing some self-care. At least one of these is present in many people’s lives on a permanent basis, and at different times of the day, you could experience each one, or more than one! But, just because you work with them, doesn’t mean they are good for you. People have created their sense of self through the idea of being busy and stressed and it’s not good.
Self-care is not a ‘one-shot deal’ it is more a bunch of little things repeated time and time again to ensure that you are at your peak. One walk a month isn’t really considered self-care… Gretchen in her Habits Manifesto states “when we give more to ourselves, we can ask more from ourselves”. A bit of self-care will see you feeling better longer.
For the most part, people know about breathing, sleeping well, eating well and asking for help, and alongside all of those, I have a few other ideas to share.
Movement (do something every day)
Energy makes energy. It’s really that simple, going for a walk will give you energy, it will wake you up, you will get some much-needed vitamin D from the sun… and some fresh air to ‘blow away the cobwebs’ as my grandmother would say. My grandma used to walk to the shops every day and buy her groceries for her dinner. I asked her “why don’t you buy two days’ worth, and then you wouldn’t have to go each day?” Her reply; the walk keeps me active; that’s why I go every day. This wahine toa (strong woman) knew how to keep active, no matter how small. I should do the same.
Now, full disclaimer, I have only done Pilates once, so, let’s be clear that I am no expert. What I will say, is that Pilates was crazy-good! I really felt my body stretching out and for the rest of the day, I felt amazing. I would recommend it… and there are even videos for children’s Pilates.
I am no expert on meditation, but the times I have completed morning mediation makes the day feel like it has gone smoother. It felt to me like my mind was clearer and more focused. A suggestion to manage your thoughts is to think of your thoughts as a river running past your feet. Every now and then, a thought will rise up, like a wave, and you are meant to just say ‘oh, there is a thought about what’s for dinner’, then let it go back in the river and drift off again. I found that to be useful advice as I spend a lot of my time thinking and worrying. So, for a blissful 10 mins, I tried really hard not to worry or think.
Having a routine
One way to care for yourself is to reduce the amount of thinking you do. I’ve spoken about future-you before, it’s when you do something now that your future self will thank you for. An example is making the bed, morning-Kath will make the bed for future-Kath because it feels nice to get into a made bed at the end of the day.
When you think about a nighttime routine, you could think about things like setting the table for breakfast, so you don’t have to in the morning. Add two things to the lunch bag that you take, or just gather up the 100+ bags that you take to work each day and put them in one place.
Other parts of a nighttime routine could be reading for 10mins, a 5 min stretching exercise before getting into bed. Ask yourself, ‘what does right-now-me need to unwind, and what does morning-me like to have happen and get a balance that works for you.
In part two, I’ll be talking about some more ideas, comfort zones, control, and choices… keep an eye out, and as usual, I’d love to hear what you do as part of your self-care rituals, so share in the comments below.
Kath Cooper works for Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood New Zealand. She is passionate about all things early childhood and issues of sustainability.
Her recent research was on the visibility of gay early childhood teachers.
She lives with her wife in Wellington and has four lovely children and three amazing grandchildren.