We currently live in a society dominated by economic pressures, political uncertainties, the easy availability of cheap junk food, an intrusive digital world, and plenty of other things that have the capacity to impinge on our mental and physical well-being. So it is not surprising that the topic of self-care is trending everywhere – across social media, in conversations with friends and family, and even in the work environment.
There are plenty of ideas for self-care out there – treating yourself to a massage or reflexology, indulging in a spa day, attending regular yoga or Pilates classes, going to the gym, engaging in sports, eating well, getting enough sleep, contributing to the community, spending quality time with family and friends, and the list goes on….. The physical benefits of eating a healthy balanced diet, having a good sleep routine and doing regular exercise are indisputable and applicable to everyone. However, honouring our mental, emotional and spiritual needs is much more nuanced as we are all different in our temperaments, our likes and dislikes and the effects and connotations of past experiences in our lives.
For me, the starting point for self-care is being self-aware. Otherwise how do you know what your body, mind and spirit need? And whether those needs have been met by the activities you’ve chosen to take up in the name of self-care? There is no point in signing up to a yoga course if you know that yoga simply does not meet your needs for relaxation, connection with your body, a spiritual practice, etc. Which, for me, it doesn’t. I used to wonder why I struggled to sustain my commitment to yoga classes. As I became, through my Dramatherapy training and life experiences, more self-aware and self-reflective, the truth became clear. The best way for me to enjoy the harmony of body, mind and spirit is to spend regular time rowing by myself in a single sculling boat (i.e. one rower, two oars). It’s my Zen time. Once I step into that boat and push off from the raft at Ardingly Rowing Club, my busy and persistent thoughts instantly subside. And I am able to indulge in something that not only meets my need for hard physical exercise, but connects me to nature, all parts of my body and my senses, and my gratitude and optimism.
Becoming self-aware is a skill. It is about taking the time to develop a relationship with yourself and reflect on who you are and what you need. And to some people that can seem boring and self-indulgent. But with that knowledge you can choose which self-care practices you need to include in your life to ensure that all aspects of your being are acknowledged and honoured. And that is true self-care.
In my next blog, I will suggest a simple, quick and easy practice to help you connect with yourself. If you believe you don’t have the time or the patience, my Just A Minute! exercise, may be just the thing to get you started.