‘Self-care’ seems to be the buzzword of the last few years. While we’re busy working 9-5, running businesses on the side, taking on extra responsibilities and documenting the entire thing through our Instagram stories (LOOK HOW BUSY I AM!), we’re supposed to set aside some time for ourselves.
I’ve always thought that the concept of ‘self-care’ sounds a bit wanky – and the name doesn’t help. Give me the twinkling fairy lights and cosy blankets of the ‘hygge’ movement and I’ll spend my monthly salary on Matalan’s homeware section. Practising ‘self-care’, however? Bit self-indulgent, right?
For me, ‘self-care’ evokes images of baths bubbling over, long walks in the countryside and cliché Galaxy chocolate adverts. When I practise ‘self-care’, I imagine myself looking a bit like a mix between a health food blogger and Olympic athlete – glowing, strong, capable. While it’s easy for me to be a bit snarky about it, I’m beginning to think that this is simply because caring for yourself has got a bit of a bad reputation.
It’s easy to forget that caring for yourself isn’t always about lavishing yourself with expensive treats or booking in a spontaneous spa day when you’re feeling frazzled. It isn’t always about going for a lengthy run along the wind-swept coast, or burning enough candles in your living room to make your neighbours think you’re conducting a séance. All this stuff is nice, but not always necessary. Most people don’t have the time, money or inclination for most of these activities.
Instead, I’d like to think that self care is much simpler than that. Looking after yourself can be as easy as making sure you go to bed at a decent time, or including at least one green vegetable in your dinner.
In the last few weeks, I’ve been reading Laura Jane William’s book ‘Ice-cream for Breakfast’ and I’ve learnt a lot about looking after myself without feeling guilty. Far from your usual self-care book, there’s a really great message to be taken from it; that self-care can be simple, and necessary.
Laura advises everyone to look after themselves as if they were a child, and make decisions accordingly. It is wise advice. You wouldn’t let your child skip a meal, or keep them up at night instead of getting a solid eight hours sleep. You wouldn’t let them live on coffee and Haribo, or spend every waking minute at their laptop screen.
Instead, here are some simple ways I look after myself:
- Steering clear of too much alcohol. I love a glass of prosecco as much as the next person, but too much of the fizzy makes me feel crap – if I want to feel good, I’d much rather have a lemonade.
- Getting enough sleep. Without a decent amount of sleep, I feel grumpy and emotional. I actually look forward to getting under my duvet at night.
- Going for walks. Boring, but true – even a short walk in my lunch break makes me feel miles better!
- Having a salad. Eating rubbish makes me feel rubbish, and adding lettuce leaves to anything makes me kid myself I’m being virtuous.
How do you look after yourself?