An important aspect of resilience, self-care enables us to take time out, step back from the coal face and ensure we are as strong psychologically, emotionally and physically as we can be to face the next challenge. This blog is an opportunity for you to reflect on how is your self-care, to notice if your self-care is slipping and to give you some ideas about what you can do to keep your batteries charged.
When times are good self-care is something we don’t need to spare much thought for. It happens without us having to consciously make ourselves do it. However, during challenging times, when we are fire-fighting, doing what we can to survive and to support our families and friends, it is easy to lose sight of our own self-care.
Self-care and resilience
Self-care is an important component of resilience. It is multi-dimensional and is associated with positive actions we can take to look after ourselves emotionally, psychologically, physically and spiritually. It relies on us taking care of ourselves in our relationships and also in our workplace or professional lives.
If we are able to maintain self-care within all these dimensions we are more likely to be able to bounce back, adapt and even thrive in the face of new threats or challenges.
Each of these dimensions can become depleted if we do not take steps to keep them nourished.
Identify one or two dimensions of self-care that you feel you are not doing so well.
This may be about making more time for nourishing activities, finding new ways of looking after yourself or balancing out the depleting activities in your life.
How is your self-care in each of the following 6 dimensions of self-care, and what steps can you take to improve it?
Notice sources of positive emotions, keep a diary or write down three good things in a gratitude journal at the end of each day
Try to notice feelings of satisfaction or pride when you achieve something
Take time to share humour with friends
Seek out comforting activities or objects – a cosy jumper or a comfy pair of slippers
Take a moment to check in with yourself, reflect on how you are feeling and put in place a strategy to manage difficult emotions or unhelpful coping
Set yourself some new challenges. What are those exciting new activities or hobbies that you have been putting off for years? Maybe now is the time to have a go
Read! Research shows we are reading less and this has been linked with the rise in use of technology. Perhaps revisit one of your favourite authors or join a book club
Understand your strengths and find ways of using them in novel ways. This builds self-efficacy and self-esteem
Remember to eat regularly. When we feel stressed it is easy to put off meals or not take the trouble to eat healthily
Exercise regularly. We hear this a lot but it can be difficult to do. Try finding an activity that you enjoy, or one that you can do with a friend. This will make it easier to do regularly.
Take time off if you are unwell. Give yourself permission to let go of some of the usual demands of your life, drink lots of fluids and get lots of rest
Whether or not you consider yourself a spiritual person, making time to do things that are meaningful to you, spending time in nature or engaging in a community activity are all important to our spiritual self-care
Take time to relax, meditate or pray
Feel inspired. Take time to listen to uplifting music, podcasts or read about things that inspire you
Try to notice and be aware of the non-material aspects of life
Keep in touch with friends and family, whether in person, by phone, video link or post or some other technology. If the world of Apps is a mystery to you, maybe take some ideas from the younger people in your life, set up WhatsApp groups, BeReal or Snapchat to share news and photos.
Schedule regular meet-ups or activities with friends and family. Putting these activities in the diary grows positivity by giving us something to look forward to and to savour
Offer support to someone you care about
Ask for help from friends and family when you need it or if you feel you are struggling. Strong relationships are built on reciprocity, so be sure to find ways of both giving and receiving support in order to maintain those bonds
Work or professional self-care
Whether you are working from home or going into work, remember to schedule breaks during the working day. Whilst it is important to make time to do work and complete tasks, it is also important to set limits on work time. It would be too easy to fill our time with work and forget the importance of leisure and social activities.
Allow yourself some quiet time to complete tasks, and perhaps switch off electronic distractions during this time, such as phone or email notifications
Arrange your workspace so it is comfortable and uncluttered
Find ways of making time to chat with co-workers and colleagues, particularly if you are remote working
Remember that improving self-care won't happen overnight and it is important to set yourself realistic and achieveable goals. Be kind to yourself, accept that you won't not be able to improve self-care in all these dimensions in one go.
Start off by identifying just one or two small steps, test them out and check in with yourself after a week or two to see how you have done. If things havent gone as you had hoped, don't be hard on yourself. Reflect on what got in the way and what you could do differently.
If you found this helpful and would like to more help around managing demands and improving self-care, get in touch.