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Taking the first step in caring for yourself

Elaine Ching

22 Mar 2023

“Put on your oxygen mask first before helping others”

“Put on your oxygen mask first before helping others”

The idea of self-care is increasingly popular. It is now part of many conversations with friends and family. We often tell others ‘take care of yourself’. How many of us actually do it?

Firstly, what is self-care?

Self-care is anything you do to look after yourself physically, emotionally or spiritually. Examples include a nice cup of tea, a soothing bath, or taking a walk outdoors. It is aimed at improving both physical and mental health. Some individuals have reported having a clearer idea about their life, needs and wants.

It sounds simple, but why is it so hard?

Although the self-care tasks itself are simple, the initial step to do it is more difficult. We may be bounded by feelings of shame or guilt. For example, young mums might feel the need to prioritise their children over their own needs. By taking a long bath might create a sense of guilt that they are not looking after their children as they ‘should’ be.

Others might find it effortful to create a space in their busy schedules. Self-care becomes another item on their to do list and can feel like a chore.

Some might confuse indulgence as self-care. Indulgence leads to guilt which opens up a whole host of other difficult emotions and experiences.

It is therefore important to understand what is stopping you from engaging in self-care activities before you try to take the first step again.

When you do, here are some ideas:

Eat breakfast

Do nothing apart from focusing in the moment for 5 minutes

Warm bubble bath

Self-affirmations in the morning

Gratitude of things you were thankful for that week

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