Self-care is always important and too often neglected especially by busy women who juggle so much. As we all know we are now in unprecedented times when life is not as we know it. People who like to be alone may feel surrounded at home with other members of the household and find that stressful. Others who live alone may feel very scared and isolated. These are challenging times so I will be hosting a lot of content on how we can best look after ourselves during the Coronavirus days and beyond. Let’s start with a guest post from Jo on how she makes self-care a priority in her life. Let’s all remember too that only when we look after ourselves properly are we in a fit state to support others including the ones we love and the ones we need to care about too. I am looking forward to seeing these days turn us all into a more caring community. Now over to Jo and her self-care tips that we can all learn from.
“Self-care is possibly one of the most important topics in your life right now but, for most of us, it’s something that slips so far down the priority list that it’s almost invisible at times. It can feel impossible to step away and it can be hard to find time to push looking after yourself back up and into view. Let me share my personal story and give you some self-care tips.
Back in 2004, following a viral illness earlier in the year, I collapsed. Fortunately I was at home; unfortunately it took me around 2 weeks to begin to find my feet again. Several weeks and plenty of tests later, I was still unable to feel rested or think clearly and was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Pacing had to become a way of life. It wasn’t a nice to have, it was a fundamental necessity. I discovered pretty quickly that despite being in my early twenties it was something that I was not very good at. In fact I was terrible at slowing down; I seemed to have one speed setting from the moment I woke which was to throw myself at everything with all that I had. You simply can’t do that and whether you have a chronic illness or not I think that burnout wouldn’t be far around the corner from anyone who approaches life in that way.
Having a break should be a cornerstone of our day, every day. My doctor at the time said the kindest thing anyone can do for themselves is to have a lunch break. Remember yourself. We’re told it during the in-flight safety announcement – fix your own oxygen mask first.
So for me self-care is pacing, but what does this look like?
In broad terms it is scheduling in rest on a daily basis. That can be a nap, making time for a tea break, watching some television or listening to music. Pacing isn’t one thing though.
For example, it isn’t forgetting about life. Time-tabling chores across the week is important. Getting small tasks done, even just going through the mail, sorting out insurance renewals, it all links to self-care. Managing the small things stops them from building up and becoming larger stressors. Preparing is important too. Spend a little time preparing something one day to complete a task the next. It all helps to lighten the load and allow time for much needed rest.
When I worked in an extremely hectic corporate environment, I was told that the work would still keep on coming in and being done if I wasn’t there. It wasn’t a way of dismissing my value, but an attempt to slow my speed down a notch. I was working all hours at the time, but was I producing my best work on little sleep and too much caffeine? I doubt it. I did a good job, but a good job can become a great job with the right balance of looking after yourself, and I apply that methodology to regular life as well as work.
Healthy eating is important too. All too often when we are rushed off our feet we turn to quick and easy food to fill us up, takeaway trays might bulge from our recycling bags. If we were instead to give ourselves a slot in the diary even just once a week to meal plan, and then spend time on another day preparing the meals, we would be so much better set up.
Social events shouldn’t be missed off the list either. Self-care might normally look like an evening in with friends watching a film or catching up over a cuppa. Having a break to meet up with others is important and shouldn’t be pushed down the list just because the laundry basket is overflowing. During the periods of self-isolation that we are experiencing at the moment, it is especially important. Those sofa moments might not be possible in person, but with apps like Facetime, Skype, WhatsApp video calling, Facebook Messenger and Houseparty we can remain connected, and can even join in online quizzes or games.
If there is one thing that I think everyone should aim for, it’s making time on a regular basis to get yourself organised. That way putting the above measures in place, finding time for breaks and meal plans and slowly catching up with the tottering pile of paperwork, will be easier. Although life needs to be flexible and work around the unexpected, some nice expected time off the treadmill can become a regular event.
As for me, on my slow days I sit in the garden listening to the birds and the sheep in the fields behind our house. If I have more energy I take myself out for a short walk. Clearing my mind, giving myself a change of scene and remembering to look after myself and allow myself a small amount of time off on a daily basis is very firmly on my to-do list now.
About the author
I’m Jo, mother of 3, living with my husband our boys and pets on the edge of the Warwickshire countryside. I write a lifestyle blog, Cup of Toast, which has a little bit of all sorts including my self-care tips! I love to connect with others on social media – if you like what you’ve read then please do come and say hi on Instagram or Twitter.”
Do you have self-care tips to share with my readers? Please leave a comment and if you would like to guest post, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or use my contact form.