How to start practising self-care
I am the A type. Literally the cliché of the A type woman. Ultra competitive (mostly with myself); extremely hard on myself (so I am told); and obsessed with the idea of improving myself. Good is bad because great is always better. And years after years of repeating to myself that I should achieve more, have bred very unhealthy thoughts. And without knowing it, I kept cultivating this negativity by following 'influencers' who reinforced my lacks and who nurtured anxiety rather than inspiration. I kept reading books on CEO's successes that left me feel like an under-achiever. So over the years, where I thought I was 'motivating' myself, I was actually reinforcing my own insecurities and anxieties, exposing myself to my competitive triggers.
But what I recently discovered was that I could take that control back with practising self-care. I could decide what to let in and what to let go off in my own life. I discovered that with easy hacks and long-term habits, I could reconcile myself with my feelings and bring more love and empathy towards my own heart and heal. I wanted to share some of these with you today. Why is self-care so important?
You will know the areas in your life that bring negative thoughts. You will know when (if not why) you are being tough on yourself, and I bet you could list for me all the areas that you wished you could improve or change. The world keeps telling us that we should be fitter, more disciplined, harder-working people and than success is never really attained. The pressure to perform is staggering. And unhealthy, if taken too far. My hope is that with these tips, you can find a way to see yourself as your future child, or future spouse or as you see a loving parent. How would you treat this amazing person? Not with love they have earned, but with unconditional, forgiving, enduring love. Now is the time to love yourself just as much.
Small self-care wins
- In days of anxiety, take a leap of faith and turn down coffees. Have a long tea instead and breathe in.
- Find hacks to stop your triggers. If you have read my post on my eating disorder, you will know that my body and I are trying to reconcile a long-time lost friendship. And in order to do that I took the step of switching bathrooms. I know this is a privileged position to be in and that I am lucky to have choices. Our big bathroom had a mirror that made me feel miserable every morning. I would start my routing merely glancing at myself and starting off with negative thoughts, shame and guilt. Easy hack: I moved myself upstairs, where we only have a portrait mirror. It was the easiest thing to do. And I have noticed that now these thoughts creep-in less often. Your trigger could be the scale. Ditch it! It could be certain Instagram accounts you follow and secretly hate. Unfollow! Find your own hacks to stop negativity coming into your day.
- Cut phone-time before bed and grab a book. A paaaaper book!
- Invest in soothing smelling candles, and light them up in your house. Luxe or budget, they do the trick!
- Find podcasts that make you feel good.
The big self-care wins.
- Find your chamber
It being the gym, the shower or your own car, find the place where you can be alone to tune in with yourself and to be freely intuitive. Carve the time for this chamber regularily. Tell your parents, partner or kids that this is your time and don't let guilt interfere and steal your personal time. Know that you can go to this space without interruption and that you have a safe haven to reflect, write, laugh, and nourish your soul.
- Write 2 lists
Start with writing a list of things you do admire about yourself. Hang it somewhere you can see every day. And consciously add to it whenever you see it. I took this idea from Leandra Medine in her brilliant, heart-breaking post on Manrepeller. Believe me when I tell you that there is no weight, no nose job, no eye lift, hair colour or height that will make you happier. You are given yourself as first care taker. If you want love, you have no choice but to love yourself first. Start with the list today.
Then write the second list of 5 things you are grateful for. It can be anything. Sometimes, a warm coffee in bed makes it to my top 1 that day. Sometimes it is a moving text from Boyfriend or a heart-warming chat with a friend in Spain. There is no trivial joy, no little happiness that cannot be put to paper. By choosing to look at for the good in your life, you will start being more in sync with it and realize as these moments happen - that all is good and that you are great.
Friends: self-care breeds self-love which breeds self-confidence. And as you grow to trust your instincts and believe in yourself - you will feel the boost and the legitimacy to assert yourself in your personal life and professional life alike. It all starts with taking the time for yourself to do the things that make you feel good. So stop listening to the noise of the world that tell you who You should like, follow and aspire to be. Care for yourself.