The importance of self-care and self-kindness: An easy tip to improve your wellbeing today
Often life brings with it a great abundance of responsibilities: work, family, school, education, friends, chores, gym, health concerns, and endless to-do lists. It is very easy, therefore, to forget how important it is to have time to stop, take stock, and to appreciate and allow time for the things that bring us pleasure or contentedness.
We are often incredibly good at having time for others and for caring for others. And we are often very good at not doing the same for ourselves. This has a remarkable consequence on our mental health that is often really easy to overlook.
When we go for prolonged periods of time without giving ourselves and our wellbeing much consideration, it is very easy for our stress levels to increase, for our ability to cope with the responsibilities and challenges of life to reduce, and for our mental health to suffer.
A question that I often ask my clients is “How do you show yourself kindness?”. And 9 times out of 10, it is a question that utterly throws them. I have had responses such as “well, I’m not selfish so I only have time to care for my loved ones”, and “I’m too busy for that”. But the relationship between self-care (that is, doing activities that give us a sense of relaxation or contentedness), and our wellbeing is astounding. When we have time, even just 10-minutes, to do something that we enjoy or that recharges our energy and resilience levels, we inevitably feel a little more at ease. That tension that builds through the day has an opportunity to reduce slightly (or totally). We become more resilient to the challenges that life throws our way.
When discussing self-care with clients, and how important it is for their wellbeing, they often think I am suggesting they take hours each day to care for themselves, which in itself leads to questions such as “but how will I have time for X?”, “ if I did that, I’d get more stressed because I’d have so much to do!”, and so on. But self-care comes in all shapes and sizes. Some of my previous clients have suggested the following as ways that they self-care:
Go for a short run
Go for a walk
Have a relaxing bath or shower
Phone a friend
Watch your favourite film or TV show
Engage in physical exercise
Have your favourite drink or snack
Read a magazine
Turn your phone off after a certain time at night
Do some colouring in
The list is potentially endless!
The main principle of self-care is: no matter how big or small the activity, no matter how long it takes, it is important to allow yourself time to do something that you find soothing and/or enjoyable. This will be different from person to person.
If you have any worries about your ability to self-care, or feel your lack of self-care is affecting your mood and wellbeing, contact State of Mind Psychology Services.