Some days are hard. Sometimes, you don’t have the energy to do much except the bare minimum. Some days, you’re tired, and want nothing more than to sleep, eat, and read, or watch films. Or you’ve had an exceptionally bad day, or week. Or perhaps you’ve been neglecting yourself, and your nerves are jangled, everything making you anxious. It could be that you want to make sure you have time, most days, to check in with yourself and find a pocket of time to rest. Maybe you need a new ritual, to calm your mind and soothe yourself, ready to face what life brings.
I’m not an expert on self-care. It’s a relatively new concept to me, something I’ve become more aware of over the past three years. I’ve had to learn when to take care of myself, when I need to step back and give myself some time to process, relax, rest, and switch off from everything. It’s not easy to stop feeling guilty about self-care when you feel you have so much to do, but it’s one of the most important things we can do for ourselves. When we look after ourselves, we are kinder and have more to give the people in our lives. To be kind and loving to ourselves mean we are then more able to be loving to others.
In that spirit, here are a few ways to look after yourself when you need to:
- If you’re worrying and ruminating, break the cycle by writing everything down – in list form, or in a journal. Writing, whether by hand or on a computer, always makes me feel a bit better, and sometimes helps me to work out problems. It puts all my worries somewhere else other than in my head.
- Clear up or clear out things in your space. Tackling physical mess and clearing up can make you feel a little better, even if it’s just clearing a table. Or clean/hoover. Maybe it’s just me, but I like the smell of Mr Sheen Polish!
- Create a ritual for yourself that calms you down. My favourite one is just to light a candle, make myself a cup of tea, and take half an hour to an hour out to read, whether a book or a magazine.
- Have a shower or bath. Give yourself time to savour the experience rather than rushing.
- Go out with your favourite book, a camera, or with your dog to the local park or for a walk. Even just half an hour for yourself is good.
- In a similar vein, take yourself out to a local cafe to people watch or read. Getting out when you feel stuck in a rut can give you space to breathe. Or take yourself out to a museum, market, or a free local activity.
- Talk to someone you trust. It’s hard to open up when you’re feeling bad, to be vulnerable, but it’s often surprising when we learn that other people have the same feelings and that they know how it feels. Don’t be afraid to talk about your worries. Other people may be able to put things into perspective for you or may know how to solve a problem. And just talking to someone, even if not about worries, is a great way to get out of your own head.
- Make your bed with clean sheets – this always feels good. Then make a nest and read a book or watch a film.
- Listen to your favourite music, and make a playlist specifically for moments when you need time out. All your favourites or just music that makes you feel calm and relaxed.
- Create something just because – draw, paint, knit, sew, or bake. Just do something because you love doing it and not because of the result.
- Remind yourself that every day is a new day, and it’s okay to have bad days when not much gets done. Some days will be like that, and we can’t always be at our best. Take each moment as it comes and breathe. You don’t have to do it all.
- Have an early night. Sometimes the simplest things are the best things we can do for ourselves. Go back to the basics when everything else feels overwhelming – feed yourself, keep yourself clean, sleep, and drink enough water.
- Laugh. Be with people who make you laugh or watch funny programs or films (or even videos on YouTube).
These are just a few suggestions, there are so many out there and you can choose things that you love to do, that will help you feel better. There are some more possibilities here: Seven Types of Self-Care Activities for Coping with Stress that I found useful. You can also build yourself a self-care toolkit, with emergency things for when you’re having a bad day.
Do you have any favourite self-care rituals or activities?