By Julie Leonard
For Valentine’s Day this year, I have planned a date night with my partner and we are off to a concert. For me, going to see live music makes me so happy, makes me feel alive, leaves me with lasting memories and is something just for me. In fact, I have a whole calendar of gigs lined up for this year, because this is something fun, yet important for my self care. Some of those concerts I will go to with friends or my partner, the rest I will go to by myself. Going alone won’t stop me. Along with the music, I plan in monthly spa mornings, too. And, of course, there are my monthly waxings, health care appointments and exercise. And the obvious, eating healthy, drinking plenty of water, and getting adequate sleep (which proved exceptionally challenging last year!)
You see, even though I’m extremely busy and even though I sometimes feel guilty that I should be doing something else, what I have learned over the thirty years I have supported women is that self care isn’t selfish. It’s essential. Self care nourishes my mind, body and spirit. And self care makes me not only more productive, it makes me a better mama, partner, friend, colleague and neighbour. Self care reduces my stress levels, reduces the worry and anxiety, calms my mind, improves my mood, I’m less irritated, less short tempered and much more fun!
The key is that I have a very clear concept of self care and its importance on my health and relationships. If you don’t have a concrete idea of what self care is then you are less likely to commit to and succeed at regular self care.
Many of the women that I coach don’t have this strong idea of self care, for many reasons:
- They don’t get how important it is in their lives
- They often think self care is doing nothing (and therefore not a productive use of time)
- They feel guilty that they should be doing something else instead (such as housework, work, shopping and just about anything else)
- They don’t feel they are worth it
- They think it is a waste of money
- Or a luxury
- They don’t have time
- They put everyone else’s needs first
Do any of these resonate with you? In general, women are nurturers, and often put others first. However, taking care of yourself and recharging your batteries will make you more effective and productive in your own life.
I’d love to share some exercises to support you to build self care into your life.
- Write down all the positive benefits to you and those around you if you were to prioritise your self care. Take time to reflect on just how much of a difference it would make to you, and the impact regular self care would have on your health and wellbeing, as well as those around you.
- Write down the self care rituals, hobbies and appointments that you personally enjoy and make you feel great! What do you love, what did you used to do, what would you like to do? Now is the time to write that wish list of self care.
- Create your own personal self care plan that works for you. Everyone is different and we all have different needs so work out what is best for you and your lifestyle.
- Find a moment for Me Time. This is just 10-15 minutes a day to enjoy a tea or coffee, drink that extra glass of water, read an inspirational article, do some stretches, light a candle, burn your essential oils, go for a walk. Begin to think of yourself each day and do something nice for you. You are worth it!
- Create healthy rituals. Go to bed at the same time each night, create a nighttime routine, take a bath, schedule a massage, or go to a weekly exercise class. These will soon become habits and daily routines.
- Be present. When we are tired and stressed it is easy to slip in to numbing activities. Scrolling mindlessly on Facebook and losing time, watching TV all evening, eating chocolate, or having a glass of wine are the more unhealthy tools we use to disengage and numb our feelings. (I’m not saying don’t enjoy your Netflix series or some nice chocolate or a glass of wine, but enjoy them mindfully and not as a crutch when you are overtired and overwhelmed).
- Unplug. Technology now means that we are always connected and often expected to respond immediately to messages and emails. There is often a fear of missing out if we are not constantly checking our phones. Become more conscious of unplugging each day. Is the first thing you do each day switching on your phone? Is it the last thing you look at at night? I switch my phone off by 9pm to focus on me and my partner. Become more conscious of not always checking your phone. Even remove apps or sound alerts so that you are not tempted to respond to that ding.
- Make the time for self care. Put it in your diary. I have to do this with exercise. It was something that I found hard to remember to do. I was so busy and focused on work and my child that I would reach the end of the day only to realise that, yet again, I hadn’t done my exercises. So I put it in my calendar, like an appointment. And stuck to it. I prioritised it and fit other things around it. It’s perfectly ok to put journaling, going for a walk, doing yoga, or whatever you need in your calendar each day.
- Create a positive affirmation about self care. Say it every day to remind yourself that you are important, you need it and you are worth it!
- And finally, build some laughter in to your day. It’s an excellent stress buster. Watch a YouTube video, listen to your favourite comedian, tell a joke, listen to your kids’ stories or reminisce about funny stories from your past.
February is the month of love and the perfect time to begin to build self love in to your daily life.
Julie Leonard is a Life Coach, Aromatherapist, Seminar Facilitator and Speaker with over 25 years of experience in Psychology, Health and Coaching. She is from Scotland and is currently based in Munich. Her passion is happiness and supporting women all over the world to transform themselves and their lives in order to live to their full potential and happiness. Check out her business here and remember that Über Moms benefit from a 10% discount on a Life Coaching sessions.