Self care is one of those terms that’s in danger of becoming so overused it becomes meaningless. I do love that it’s on women’s radars now, but for some, it’s easy to become just another stick you beat yourself with when you don’t get to practise self care in the way you think you should.
It’s something I’ve struggled with in the past (before I even knew it was called self care!) and it’s something I’m always working on – it is a ‘practice’ after all. However, over the last few months I’ve made some massive steps in the right direction so I thought I’d share with you what self care really looks like in my life.
For me, self care starts with looking at the bigger picture of my life. I do this once a year by using Leonie Dawson’s Shining Life and Biz Workbooks, and also by renewing my Core Desired Feelings by going through Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map (this is our first The Balance Club Book Club Book!) Now I am a bit of a personal development nerd so I love this kind of thing and it does help me get a sense of where I’m going. If that just sounds like an exhausting amount of work, just thinking of a word or theme for the year might be helpful.
Then on a monthly basis I do some reflection and planning. Within The Balance Club we have a monthly reflection and planning worksheet which I always complete. That helps me not only see what needs to be improved upon but what is actually going well – so often it’s easy to fall into the trap of only looking at what’s not working and forgetting about all the things that are working! The worksheet helps me to identify 3 key intentions for the coming month. I’ve learned that trying to do more than 3 things is really hard and leaves me feeling overwhelmed. There’s also space in the worksheet to think of things that are specifically self care related you’d like to focus on. If I can, I’ll also sneak off to a coffee shop to do the worksheet, that’s a form of self care in itself for me!
Most months I don’t actually achieve all 3 intentions, but I almost always do 2 of them well and that’s good enough for me!
I also set up my monthly bullet journal habit tracking spread which I use daily. The things I track change month to month, so for example this month I’m tracking joy, movement, keeping a food diary, meditation, supplements and EFT.
This month I also did a full on woo woo New Moon ritual around my intentions which I loved!
When we get down to the daily practices this is where things have usually gone a bit off course for me. Life can throw a lot at you, and what I’ve personally found is that I don’t handle those things as well as I could have when I’m in the thick of it. That’s ok though, and I am getting better at mastering the art of forgiveness when I don’t do things anywhere close to perfectly.
Last month I experienced one of those rough patches and was able to sit down and journal my way out of it. I wrote down what wasn’t working, I was tired and just really felt like crap. Finley’s sleep was going through a tough period and the exhaustion was all consuming. But just by reminding myself of what I could control, even if I couldn’t control sleep, helped. I knew I could eat better and still exercise, even if that exercise was 10 minutes of yoga or a 20 minute walk.
Some days I literally just have to wake up and ask myself ‘what do I need today’ or ‘what do I need to do today to feel balanced’. I’m a big believer that some days self care is just eating whatever’s available and sitting at your computer because that deadlines looming and you don’t need to add any more stress to your situation. But what’s even greater self care is reflecting on that situation afterwards and making changes to your life to prevent you getting into that situation in the first place.
Jumping back to that journalling I did, it helped me come up with a realistic self care routine that I felt could work for my life as it is at the moment –
Relaxed mornings – I am up early every day with Finley, but I don’t have to get dressed immediately. James does the nursery run on those days so I get to take my time eating breakfast, enjoying my one caffeinated cup of coffee and getting set up for the day. Usually I put the essential oil diffuser on and eat breakfast mindfully before getting dressed. I worked out a while ago that as much as I’d love to workout early it just ain’t gonna happen after a rough night. I was also finding it hard to pull myself away from getting on top of my inbox first thing. Something I’ve also given myself mental permission to do is go back to bed or have a lie in if I need it.
Decent breakfast – I’ve found I need a big breakfast with a good amount of protein to set me up for the day if I’m going to get my energy off on the right foot. I love eggs with avocado and a slice of wholegrain toast or porridge with an egg in it.
Getting dressed properly – as a self employed working from home girl the temptation will always be to slum it in yoga pants and a t-shirt, but that doesn’t cut it. Likewise on days it’s just me and Fin it can also be easy to go for a mum uniform of leggings and a baggy top which does not help me feel the way I’d like. I’m working with Kathryn Clarke on getting my style sorted and creating wardrobe formulas for those different ‘roles’.
Lunchtime walk – This has been such a huge change for me, it improves my energy levels in the afternoon and helps me be more productive.
Take my supplements – I’ve always taken magnesium and Vitamin D but I’ve added a B Vitamin Complex and Ashwanga which can be helpful when you’ve been stressed.
Move my body in the late afternoon – the best slot for me to workout in is between 4 and 5pm when I collect Fin from nursery on work days. Rather than forcing myself to do a certain form of exercise I try and go with the flow of what I feel my body needs. That might be yoga, Barre3 or the gym.
An evening wind down / journal routine – after we’ve put Fin to bed I do my journalling and tracking. I do my gratitude practice, check my bank balances and budgets and journal my cycle (i’m journalling how I feel on each day of my menstrual cycle and tracking the moon cycle too!) and how I’m feeling.
Early bed and meditation – To maximise sleep I’m more than happy to be in bed by 9pm! I’m currently loving using the Insight Timer app to listen to a sleep guided meditation as I drift off.
It doesn’t go exactly like that every day, but on work days which for me make up 4 days a week I am sticking with it and feeling the benefits. Even on other days I can usually stick with the morning and bed time bits and fit in some activity like walking.
Other forms of self care I’m always striving for are things like getting my work load right, saying no to opportunities because they don’t aline and would leave me feeling depleted and of course, asking for help!
I appreciate that you might read the above and be totally overwhelmed, it’s taken me years to get to this point with it all, and it’s been a long process or trial and error to figure out what works for me. All of these things are just habits that form over time step by step!
If this whole self care thing is new to you, or if you just need a little more guidance then check out my How to Practise Self Care like a Boss post and to get your free worksheet just leave your details below:
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Do you have any self care routines or rituals?