Self Care - looking after yourself when you really don't feel like it
Updated: Aug 4, 2019
Hello and welcome to my latest blog on self care, what it means and how to look after yourself when you really don't feel like it.
You will hear a lot from me about the importance of self care, as a professional and as a fellow human being I have learnt first hand how important it is to look after yourself. Have you ever heard of the saying 'you can't pour from an empty cup'? This is so true in many contexts, whether you are a person with chronic pain, or other long-term health condition, a carer for someone else who has a long-term health condition. A parent with young children, a business owner, someone working multiple jobs, etc...Looking after yourself and replenishing your inner resources is vital in order to ensure that you maintain your own health and well-being whilst carrying out your day-to-day responsibilities and avoid tipping into overwhelm, or ultimately burn-out.
I hear so often from others and sometimes from myself! 'I haven't got time for self-care...it's too self indulgent...I've got too much to do!'
I can totally understand these barriers to self-care and another barrier that might be there is that you feel so low, or you feel so exhausted, or in too much pain to even know where to start. If you can relate to this then this blog is for you!
5 steps to self care when you really don't feel like it:
Rest in whatever form it takes will be vital in managing your limited energy reserves. Resting could include having a nap in the day. Ensuring a good sleep hygiene routine at night so that you are getting the optimum number of hours of sleep at night for you, whether that is 5, 7, 9 hours.
Resting could also include doing physical activities for a certain amount of time before your pain levels increase, taking a rest and then returning to the physical activity that you need to do. This will ensure that you can complete the physical activity without an exacerbation of your pain levels. This is known as pacing and is a subject that I will return to in a future blog.
2: Watch your favourite movie, listen to your favourite music, or audiobook.
If your condition means that you haven't got the energy to do stuff, from experience I have found laying in bed, or on the sofa watching your favourite film, listening to your favourite music, or audiobook to be highly beneficial. I have a collection of my go-to films when I am not feeling good, which could be musical films, or comedy films. Once I have watched these I generally feel brighter. Which films would you place in your go-to list?
Same with audiobooks, you might like to download a selection of your favourite books that you can listen to when you are not feeling great, all might help you feel a bit brighter.
3: Mindfulness meditation
Mindfulness meditation is a key self-care strategy for me. This can be done in as little as 10 minutes per day and over time it has an accumulative positive effect.
If you have chronic pain, or other long-term health condition I highly recommend the book Mindfulness for Health by Vidyamala Burch. This is an 8-week meditation program specifically designed to help you manage your pain, or other symptoms and live as good a life as possible along-side it (you can get this book as an audiobook if you wanted to use it in step 2!).
4: Find a hobby that you really enjoy
I highly recommend finding a hobby that you can lose yourself in, something that you enjoy and find rewarding. This can be really helpful as self-care because it might help to improve your confidence, improve your social network, provide a positive distraction from stress, or pain and can be motivating for you to do even if you might not feel like it.
Hobbies don't need to be as active as ice skating! You might like mindful colouring, sewing, doing puzzles etc...what is important is that it will be something that you enjoy doing and something that provides a positive distraction.
5: Indulge yourself
My fifth and final tip for self-care is to indulge yourself. Again what you find indulgent can be personal to you. It might include activities such as having a long and luxurious bubble bath, having a massage, eating your favourite food, or having your favourite drink can be really helpful in your self-care routine.
I hope that you have found these suggestions helpful in developing your own ideas for self-care.