Self care - what even is it?
It wasn't until I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease that I really started to focus on my own mental and physical health and happiness.
After my diagnosis, I was thrown into a situation in my life where for the first time I had to really sit up and take notice of what was affecting my health both physically and mentally. I felt incredibly alone, depressed and scared for my future with this chronic illness. I wanted to find ways to nourish my body and mind, to help myself to find a more positive spin on what was happening to me.
Self care has become a huge part of my life over the last 4 years. Each month I write about different ways to hopefully help you with your own self care. But what even is it and how do you know that its right for you?
Often seen today as being things like having a massage, going shopping for a few hours for retail therapy, getting a manicure and having a bubble bath - although these are all fun things to do, self care is not actually as simple as indulging in one of these 'luxurious' things.
Self care is as simple as having an honest relationship with yourself. Asking yourself what do you need, meeting those needs and also constantly re-evaluating and adjusting to make sure that you are nurturing yourself everyday - both physically and mentally.
As a society, we are always looking outside of ourselves for the answer to our own happiness and health. However the answer is within us. We need to be able to find ways to fix things for ourselves and take responsibility for our own happiness.
Interoception is a sense of our inner wellbeing. It is a lesser-known sense that helps you understand and feel what's going on inside your body. It is all those tiny signs and signals which our bodies send to us to let us know how we are really feeling. Our heart rate, they way we are breathing, butterflies in our stomach, etc. Studies have shown that by strengthening our interception, we can help to alleviate stress, anxiety and also some panic disorders. Mindfulness activities like meditation, breath work and yoga and also finding ways to turn your attention inwards will help you to work on your interception.
Questions are a great way to start this process, you can write in a journal or make mental notes of the answers. Ask yourself some really honest and simple questions, Who am I? what do I need? Ask yourself why you feel a certain way? What is adding or taking away from these feeling? You will start to take notice of what matters to you, what makes you feel good and helps to nourish your body and mind. What is it that positively impacts your health, mental and physical.
A few things which I have learnt about self care along the way;
Our own personal needs are constantly changing throughout our lives, therefor its important to be able to re - evaluate and to keep checking in with yourself along the way.
Self care can be as simple as setting boundaries, give yourself the time and space which you need to be able to switch off or listen to your needs, put yourself first.
It can be about finding compassion towards yourself. Being tolerant and patient, giving yourself time to fully connect to you and what makes you happy.
It is also about treating yourself with respect and love, in a way that you expect to be treated by others. The way you treat yourself will reflect out into the world and others will see this.