The important thing to remember is that it is the journey that counts, not the destination..

"Most of our lives are a series of images, they pass us by like towns on a highway. But sometimes a moment stuns us as it happens and we know that this instant is more than a fleeting image. We know that this moment, every part of it, will live on forever."-Lucas Eugene Scott [One Tree Hill, Season Three]

My posts will be about life, influenced by all the moments and memories that inspire, challenge and touch me..

Monday, August 20, 2012

Making time...for Self Care

"Your breathing is your greatest friend. Return to it in all your troubles and you will find comfort and guidance.." (Buddhist Teaching)

I think it is really important to make time to just breathe and do something for yourself. Yes you are busy. We all are. Some people have demanding jobs, some are trying to study and work, some have families or intense hobbies. No matter what, for the vast majority of us atleast there never seems to be enough time. Time to complete all the mundane tasks or time to really let go and enjoy ourselves.

When I was completing my degree, we were always told about the importance of self care (click the link for a great article by Elizabeth Scott) which is basically setting aside time to allow yourself to relax, revitalise or rejuvinate. Self care 'sessions' do not have to be complex or time consuming and can be worked into our everyday lives. In saying this, it often becomes a rarity, or as Elizabeth discusses, something that people feel should take a backstep to the many other things requiring their attention. I am definitely guilty of this. I think in the short term, that can be fine (for instance you are working hard to meet an assignment deadline but then will relax the moment you can click submit) but continually giving up this time on a long term basis can have vastly negative effects.

Some negative effects of a daily, weekly or monthly routine lacking in self care sessions can include increased stress-physical/mental/emotional, increased chance of inappropriate emotional outbursts-tears/yelling/snapping, reduced ability to sleep well, lowering immune systems leading to illness but also minor issues like tension headaches/grounding teeth/fatigue, inability to enjoy time off and reduced ability for effective communication, concentration and judgement.

Below are five catergories of self care options and some ideas to achieve self care. There are of course, a very large amount of ways to complete self care- I am only aiming to highlight some simple, easy to achieve ways to get people started. I will also state what my favourite ways are!

Physical- do something with your body, pamper it, move it around...
*Book a treat for yourself, such as a massage - be it soothing, remedial (my favourite). Anyone in the hunter valley should look up Emily Jane Massage Therapy, I can personally vouch her, or have a DIY pamper session (I love to take all my makeup off,use my at home facial kit and then paint my nails)
*Hot shower with nice body wash, or soaking in a bath with candles and/or glass of wine
*Going for a quick walk or exercise (20-30minutes can do wonders)
*Have a rest, put on some calm music (or your favourite) and have a nap

Environmental- Do something with the elements! Use nature how  it was intended...
*Sit in the sun- read a book, play with a pet or just look up at the sky
*Go to the beach- walk along the shore, dip your toes in the water and sit with your hands sifting through the sand, listen to the waves
*Go for a walk through a garden or park, look at animals and enjoy some quiet
*Dance in the rain, lie on a blanket and look at the stars, watch a sunrise/sunset

Mental-take care of or strengthen your mind...
*Create a list of things to do/things you want to achieve. Can be a bucket list (things to do before you die), a cradle list (things to do before you have children), or any other timeline (I currently have one going for things I want to complete before 2013).. Make sure you don't just focus on serious things but also fun things e.g. fingerpainting/karoke/hot air balloons
*Take some time to read a book or magazine- could be five pages, a chapter, one story
*Complete a puzzle/sudoko/crossword
*Watch a few episdoes of your favourite tv show (or one you have wanted to catch up on)

Emotional-express, reflect on or recognise your feelings...
*Write someone a letter (write to a friend, an organisation to support something you believe in or even write one to yourself)
*Think about your fears, can any be conquered or attempted in a positive way? If so, go DO it!
*Reflect on your feelings and then think about where you want to be and what you want to do in life. Think/find some affirmations to repeat to yourself on a daily basis-especially when you are stressed. 
Some of mine include: 'She believed she could, and so she DID', 'Everything will be ok in the end, if it is not okay, it is not the end', 'Whether you think you can or you think you can't - you are right'
*Spend the day with some kids (if you don't have any mind your neice/nephew/cousin/friend's children), children are great therapy! They find joy in so much and th sound of their laughter or the wonder in their voice at something new can really lift your spirits. My little cousins have saved my mindset on many occasions and treating them makes me feel positive!

Spiritual-take some time to focus on your own beliefs or to re-determine what you do believe in.
*Light a candle and say/think a prayer/blessing/hope/affirmation (you don't have to follow a religion to do this). I light a candle whenever I am in need of hope, or when I am remembering those beautiful friends of mine that I have lost. Candle light is so soft and soothing, even in the day time.
*Think about your safe place, a peaceful place. What does it look like? Are there people or animals there? What can you hear/smell/taste/feel? Next time you are stressed, faced with your fears or upset. Take a second, breathe, close your eyes and take yourself to that place.
*Meditate-to music, an actual meditation tape or piece of writing, or sit down somewhere comfortable and breathe deeply, stretch and concentrate on your breathing. Five minutes can change your day. My aim is to have meditated for atleast 60 minutes every week (either broken up or one whole session)
*Do something for someone else. Donate to charity, spend time listening to a friend, volunteer, do a good deed each day- whatever it is, it can help put into perspective that we are not the only ones with issues, and that by helping others we can help ourselves.

As I said, the above points are just brief examples or ideas... Mainly used to inspire those who may not have known where to start, or what to do. Writing a list of things you'd like to include in a self care session of your own can be a great help. Ensures lots of variety!

Some examples from people I know (just basics)..
L- takes walks on the beach, plays with her dog and when she sees her mum they share champagne
M- lights candles, plays music, treats herself, goes to the gym
E- takes time to draw, sketch, think, spend time in nature

My favourite things to do are- the pamper routine above, spend some time in my pjs watching a tv show, think about my peaceful place, write short stories/work on my novel, play music and focus on my breathing, take a walk, look up at they sky, create lists of things to achieve, spend time with people who make me laugh; who let me be myself and who support me, spend time with the little children I am lucky to know, wash my hair and have a hot shower, remedial massages.

"Love yourself first, and everything else falls in line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world." Lucille Ball

I would love to read what other people love to do! Happy self-caring, Kooklah Xx.

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