Update: This post was originally posted on 13th September 2020 but after changing my website this post had to be re-published due to technical issues.
Last week I wrote about how changing a negative mindset to a positive one and how it can help improve your life.
But what else can you do to help to improve your life? Well one way is to take care of yourself, but how do you do that? The answer is different for each person and this list is by no means exhaustive and it's not meant to be. But what it is meant to do is give you ideas on how you can improve your life and take care of yourself.
Now the first thing I want you to understand is that doing something for yourself does not make you a bad mum, dad, wife, husband, partner or whatever. Our cars can't run with nothing in the tank and that goes for us as people. If you give everyone all of you and take no time to recharge ourselves we become no use to ourselves and our loved ones.
I know what I'm talking about and have written before about taking time out as I came close to burning myself. Being a single working mum who is trying to make a success of my business as well as being the only family that is involved with my elderly grandmother who has vascular dementia. I know how important it is to look after myself and it is the same for you. No matter what your responsibilities are you have to look after yourself and don't feel guilty about it, it's as essential as making sure the dinner is cooked at night.
Often when folk think of self care they think of going to a spa spending lots of money on getting a massage or manicure. And although that certainly is a nice way to care for ourselves that isn't the only way to care for ourselves, and there are cheaper ways to do some self care. This list is generally stuff that is free to do or at least very cheap.
And as I said above this isn't an exhaustive list just of four way to take care of yourself and improve your life
This first tip is to get your body moving, now I don't necessarily mean by going to a gym, although if that is what you enjoy go for it. But what I mean is doing something as simple as going for a walk, dance around your living room with the kids or by yourself, do some yoga either by finding a yoga channel on You Tube or finding a routine off Pintrest.
My exercise is walking, I walk my daughter to and from school as long as the weather isn't too horrendous. And at least 2 or 3 afternoons when she's home from school she changes in to her home clothes, we grab her scooter and go for a walk along the water front which we are lucky enough to live less than 5 minutes walk away from.
Just getting up and moving especially out in the fresh air helps clear your head, as well being good for your overall health.
There has been several studies that have found a link between exercise and improved mental health and reduced risk of cardio vascular issues as well as other issues. The NHS in the UK recommends 150 minutes a week of moderately intensive exercise, by that they mean you should be doing something hard enough that you can still carry a conversation but not sing.
Now I'm no expert but in my mind as long as you are moving it doesn't matter how often or how hard you push yourself doing it. The main thing is you're doing something and reaping benefits. But that is just my opinion, but there is no denying moving our bodies has huge benefits and it helps improve our lives. I know how great I feel from going out for a walk.
This is something that can take many forms and it doesn't have to involve sitting surrounded my incenses saying om. Although it can do there are other ways to meditate, but my understanding of meditation is a way of becoming more aware. Whether that is becoming more aware of your thoughts and viewing them but not becoming involved in them. Or focusing on one particular sense and ignoring the rest.
The type of meditation that I like (although I'll be honest I didn't realize it's what I was doing) is movement meditation. As I mention above I like walking, and while out on these walks especially when I am out by myself I like just observing the nature around me. I can become completely immersed in it and find that if there has been anything worrying me at the start of the walk it just melts away to the point where I'm not even thinking about it.
Now I realize that all the suggestions on this list are meant to help you relax. But what I mean by this suggestion is going for a soak in the tub or going for a shower just to stand under the water.
This can be the ultimate in relaxation and you can make it as fancy an experience as you like. Personally I love going for a bubble bath, candle at the end of the bath, music playing over my phone (as I don't have a speaker for the bathroom), my book or magazine and a cup of tea or glass of Schlor (the high life when you're tea total). For me that is the ultimate treat and something I only do when my daughter is away at her dads as that way other than the cat I have no one that can interrupt me.
So why not chuck the family out the house for a couple of hours this coming weekend and enjoy a long soak. You'll feel all your tension melt away and when the family return they'll also benefit from a calmer you. And that suggestion like all my suggestions aren't just for women it's for the blokes as well. If you think a bath isn't manly then do as Chandler in the comedy Friends did and get a toy boat for your bath 🚤😂
Of course that's not the only way to relax, you could treat yourself to a new haircut or trip to beauticians for a manicure. However, with everything that is going on at the moment with Covid-19 it is not something I would find relaxing. Also it's not exactly free or cheap so hence why it's not the main suggestion for relaxation. But then again you could always do a home spa my getting a face mask and give yourself a manicure. Or even get your friends round for a movie and spa night.
My point is do whatever it is that helps you relax.
This is my final tip but by no means a small one, and it's to get yourself a hobby. I know the running joke about when a mum is asked what her hobbies are and she answers she's a mum her hobby is going to the toilet or shops alone. And I've been there myself where you get so wrapped up in being a mum and looking after the home and everyone else that you forget about you. My daughter was almost 4 years old before I started finding myself again. When I rediscovered myself I loved the person I had become more than I ever had but that took time and finding some hobbies.
It'll come as no surprise that one of my hobbies is photography and although that has developed into a business I still enjoy getting out and taking photos, even if no one but me ever sees what I've taken. So even if my business was to fail tomorrow I'd still have photography as a hobby.
However, photography isn't my only hobby, I love reading and in particular historical fiction. I have recently started making a point of going to bed a little bit earlier again so I can enjoy a few pages of my book every night. Okay the current book is one I've read more times than I care to count but I still love it. And I'm hoping my other half will be getting me another book this coming Christmas 🤞
As well as this I thoroughly enjoy listening to music and more often than not you'll find me listening to the radio rather than watching TV. I have quite a selection of music I like listening to from Classical, Country, Tribal, Bagpipes, some classic pop, a bit of rock (can't beat meatloaf) and even a touch of blues. And thankfully my daughter loves my taste in music so it's not very often we'll disagree on what to listen to though I'm sure as she gets into her teens that will change.
My final hobby is cross stitch, there is nothing more soothing than stabbing a bit of fabric a hundred odd times. And frequently at night you'll find me listening to Classic FM while doing a cross stitch.
These hobbies help me relax and help me remind myself I am more than just a mum, daughter, grand-daughter, partner, domestic-cleaner, entrepreneur and any other hat that I wear. I am Kirsty and my hobbies help me be me, they also help me take care of myself but making sure I have time to switch off and unwind.
Although I work for myself and making sure I network and get my business seen is important I will often make a point of switching my computer off at 8 pm. This allows me time to put my daughter to bed, and have time to unwind properly before my own bed. If you are properly unwound then you sleep better, and so you will feel better the next day. Yes there are times I feel I should keep working but I know myself that there is normally very little that can't wait until tomorrow.
And if you run your won business I hope if you take nothing else from this post you take that point. It's okay and actually necessary to switch off at night and unwind, if you don't sleep properly at night not only will your family and health suffer but your business will suffer. It is better taking an extra 6 months to get your business established than making yourself so sick you can't work on your business at all and your hard work has been for nothing. We live in a society where there seems to be a badge of honor given to those who are always moving at 100 mph. But as human beings that is not how we are designed and the older I get the more I realize this.
That's Not All
As I say this is not an exhaustive list but it will hopefully give you some ideas on where to start with your own self care list. Or even give you some ideas of things to add or do instead of your list.
But I hope that this list not only makes you realize that self care doesn't need to be expensive or elaborate. In fact it can be as simple as fitting in a walk, and that can involve the family or be by yourself or even a mixture of both. If self care is new to you then it may take a while for you to find what works for you. But whether you take 5 minutes a day or a couple of hours once a week it doesn't matter. What matters is finding time to take care of yourself, and don't feel guilty about it your family will reap the benefits as well as yourself.