Self Care is one of those fancy terms you’ll see plastered all over social media alongside images of detox drinks, wellness retreats, avocados and acai bowls. Wellbeing magazines and women’s lifestyle platforms are consistently reminding us that we need to take ‘time out’ and invest time in ourselves, whilst Wellness experts are regularly advocating self care and showing the results of looking after one self all over social media.
Let's start at the top, by breaking down the term self care. According to Susan Noonan, at Psychology Today, Self Care (aside from being that of meeting our basic needs) is having a sense of self respect and personal value that capitalizes on those things that raise our self esteem even higher. Those that adopt this belief do not regard self care as a matter of deserving to be well cared for and receiving nice things, he or she knows that it comes as a matter of basic self respect whilst learning to treat themselves as a valued possession. Now, whilst that may sound a little heavy to some, in simple terms it’s about investing valuable time into our own selves.
If I think about my own commitment to harnessing self care, my thoughts quickly shift to how chaotic my life can be and rather embarrassingly I struggle to pinpoint those opportunities when I take time out and have some ‘me’ time. I live in one of the busiest cities in the world: London. A city where everything is done at immense speed, we talk fast, walk fast and no longer have a knack for being patient. Thinking about an ordinary working week, my days consist of commuting to and from work (in-between spending eight hours at my desk!), running from one social engagement to the next, squeezing in the gym, food shopping, cleaning my flat and making sure I stay on top of household ‘admin’. So trying to find a spare hour to fit in an activity that falls under the self care umbrella and that allows me to channel my energy into something I genuinely feel passionate about, is pretty challenging and I can imagine many of you reading this, know exactly where I’m coming from.
There are a multitude of reasons as to why self care is so important in today’s world. Apart from encouraging us to have a healthy relationship with ourselves, it also helps to reduce the burdening feelings of stress, boosts our confidence and self esteem and can help with better management of anxiety and depression. Finding that time, every day, or a few times a week, where you can remove yourself from day to day life and do something that is for you and important to you. For some that could be something as simple as listening to soothing music during your walk into work, going to bed an hour earlier or promising not to check Instagram for 30 minutes (guilty!), whilst for others it could be something that requires more time, such as travelling solo because work sucks up so much time or signing up for that 10 week yoga class you’ve been promising to do for months.
In 2011, the NHS introduced self care week, which was created to make us think about how we can better ourselves and commit more time to self-care. This year, the national event starts on November 12th and runs for seven whole days focusing on embedding support for self care across communities, families and generations whilst helping people to invest time into creating a happier and healthier life.
There are no limits to how much you can embrace self care and how you do so, differs for everyone. Whether you want to treat yourself to a pedicure or spend 10 minutes reading a magazine without interruption, what’s important is that its something that makes you feel good. Here at Carnivalista, we had a look at some simple ways you can welcome self care into your day to day life, regardless of whether you have little time or plenty…
Switch off social media for an hour (or longer if you can manage it!)
Lets start with the phenomenon that is social media! In an era where connecting with friends, family and those from across the globe, can be done by simply touching an app, for many of us, switching off from technology doesn’t seem possible. But the benefits to giving yourself time away from connecting with others is invaluable. Temporary breaks allow you to give full focus to something else, whether that be reading a magazine from cover to back or watching a TV programme in its entirety because you no longer have that technological distraction. Recently, whilst I was having lunch with a friend my phone ran out of battery. After getting over the initial shock that I could no longer contact a single sole (and vice versa), I found being without my phone quite refreshing. A few hours later, as I sat on the train, I found myself observing others as they robotically scrolled through their feeds. I even noticed a couple who I didn’t realise were together, because they were so consumed by whatever it was they were looking at on their phone. Not having my phone allowed me to just sit, look out the window and be mindful of a journey I’ve done so many times before but never took any notice of. I loved that no one could contact me. It felt like a healthy break that allowed me to tune into my journey home and think freely about the rest of my evening ahead.
Whenever I hear the word meditation, I automatically think of a quiet room where I’m required to sit cross-legged with my eyes closed as I tune into my own thoughts! Whilst this is somewhat true, the best thing about meditation is that it can be done as part of a wider group or alone in the comfort of your own home. Meditation is proven to reduce anxiety and stress and lower blood pressure. It allows you to take time out, sit quietly and observe your surroundings. There are some great apps available that teach you how to successfully meditate, including Headspace, which gives guidance on finding time and space to think, breathing techniques and how to tune into your body and its surroundings.
Exercise doesn’t necessarily mean sweating it out for 90 minutes in the gym, especially if you’re not a fan of intense workouts. Doing something simple such as a 30-minute walk, or a light jog around the park is just as good for our wellbeing. Its one of the proven ways to help clear your mind, improve your mood and boost energy. The after feeling of any form of exercise feels incredibly rewarding and often leaves you feeling charged and re-energised, and if you workout in the evening, ready for a good nights sleep!
Lose yourself in a good book or magazine
Life couldn’t be simpler than when you are reading a good book you cant put down. I personally love nothing better than spending Sunday mornings in a coffee shop reading through a few chapters of my latest novel, or reading the often-inspiring articles in my favourite magazines. It is incredibly calming and the feeling as you read and flick through the pages is satisfying especially as you near the end of a chapter. A great way to immerse your thoughts elsewhere….
Get ready without distraction
Often whilst I’m getting ready for work, I tune into the news whilst applying my makeup, eating my breakfast and fixing my hair, however, of late I’ve started getting ready in silence. Tuning into quietness and being able to get ready without my mind trying to focus on what is happening elsewhere in the world, not only feels therapeutic, but allows me to get ready quicker without distraction. It makes my morning routine feel a lot calmer which is great before a busy day in the office.
Listen to a podcast
Podcasts offer a wealth information and are a great resource when you want to learn something new, feel inspired or become informed of something you might know little about. I’ve listened to some great ones of late, especially on my commute to work. Is a great distraction from social media and really makes me feel as though I’ve done something productive before my working day starts. Some of my favourites of late include;
Like A Girl; The Like A Girl team includes Alesha Dixon and YouTuber Hanna Witton who shed light on key topics such as confidence and overcoming the fear of failure.
In the Moment is an extension of the practical lifestyle magazine created for modern thinking creative women. Some of their most recent episode include finding your inner strength with SISU (wellbeing trend), how to feed your brain and find your yoga confidence.
In Good Company with Otegha Uwagba: One of my all time favourite podcasts! In a series of talks, Uwagba tackles those topics that us women often want to discuss. Offering fresh ideas and practical advice, some of her previous guests have featured on the show to discuss career pivots, starting from scratch and fake news and instagram fame.
In an ideal world, self care should be as routine as brushing your teeth. You shouldn’t have to be reminded to take time out from daily life, nor does it need to be anything self-indulgent. Above all, self care is about tuning into your body, your mind and recognising those ‘stop’ signs that remind you to step back and channel your energy towards your wellbeing because after all the most important person to you, should always be you….