Self-care; we’ve all heard of it, some say we’re advocates of it, but do we really know what ‘self-care’ is and how to practise it?
Those of you on social media will probably have heard of ‘self-care Sundays’, which mainly consists of girls and women sharing photos of themselves in the bath wearing a face mask and drinking a glass of wine; but while this may be a form of self-care for some people, there’s actually a lot more to it.
Following the tough year that was 2020, therapist of 18 years Zoe Clews now describes self-care as being a necessity.
Zoe told UNILAD, ‘Self-care used to be seen as an almost indulgent thing and no one really spoke about self-care 10 years ago. But now it’s become this thing and it’s because life has become increasingly more difficult from things like social media. We’re having to protect ourselves more.’
There’s been a lot more awareness around mental health and increasing mental health issues that were already an issue prior to 2020. The way I see it is that self care is no longer a luxury – which it was sort of seen as, in a way – it’s a necessity.
Self-care isn’t just bubble baths and scented candles and chocolate cake; obviously those things are lovely, but self-care means so many things. It’s a very personal thing and it depends on the way you’re suffering.
In regards to working out how self-care works for you personally, according to Zoe it’s all about getting you back into your ‘window of tolerance’ – a place where you feel cool, calm, collected, easy, connected, and just generally OK.
She explained, ‘From our window of tolerance, that’s where we make good decisions and set good boundaries. We sleep well, we digest well, we feel reasonable: we function well’.
Speaking about self-care, mindset coach and owner of Social Cactus Amy Crumpton believes being positive can be a way to practice self-care.
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Amy told UNILAD, ‘My advice would be to surround yourself with positivity. For instance, how many times a day do we all pick up our phones? Too many to count! So use that time to inject some positivity into your day. Also, every day, try visualise the life you want to have. Really feel into this being a reality now, and imagine how you will think, act and feel when you have your dream life. A great way to start is to create a vision board of your goals’.
Agreeing with Amy, Zoe said it’s important to try start and end your day positively as a way of practicing self-care.
You need to slowly ease yourself into a better routine because how you start and end your day is really important. Start the day with low negativity, for example not going on the news app as soon as you wake up. There’s a really good saying, ‘Bad habits are easy to form and difficult to live with. Good habits are difficult to form and easy to live with’.
That’s how you’ve got to see it with self-care – it takes a while. We’re not taught to do it, we weren’t prepared for [the pandemic]. We’re learning something new.
She also explained that how we talk to ourselves is important, too. Zoe said, ‘One of the most powerful ways of self-caring is the way we talk to ourselves. We need to talk to ourselves in a really self-parenting way and ask ourselves ‘What will make me feel good without making me feel bad?’ Those are the kind of questions to ask yourself’.
Other self-care tips Zoe suggests include: celebrating the small victories; realise that we’re all going through a difficult time and that we all respond to these difficulties differently; try not compare yourself to others and to avoid emotional, and physical, hangovers. Going on an online spending spree might feel good at the time, for example, but it won’t when the £250 bill hits your bank.
In regards to self-care in 2021, neuro-linguistic programming practitioner Tara Best believes that following the unpredictable experience of 2020, and with so much uncertainty and loss, in 2021 people will need to focus more on the good in their lives.
Tara told UNILAD, ‘One lovely mindset exercise is to introduce daily gratitudes into your routine. Start each day by telling yourself at least five things that you are grateful for. This will train your mind to look for the good in each day, which in turn will help to generate more good things. Doing this regularly will ‘reset’ your filter so that you subconsciously create things to be grateful for and focus on the positives in your day’.
Meanwhile, Zoe added, ‘We don’t know what 2021 will be like and we can’t just expect that because it’s a new year, everything’s going to go back to normal. The most important thing you can do is set out really great support and self-support, and other ways of supporting you that are going to see you through  and to weather any storms’.
Here’s to a more positive 2021.
If you’re experiencing distressing thoughts and feelings, the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is there to support you. They’re open from 5pm–midnight, 365 days a year. Their national number is 0800 58 58 58 and they also have a webchat service if you’re not comfortable talking on the phone.
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