I have been reflecting on self-care. I have had a lot of time for reflection lately. As many of you know, my mum passed away recently. Sitting at her bedside for six weeks, away from my busy, goal-oriented, ‘To-Do list ticking’ life, I started to think about what I truly wanted life to be like, and if I am satisfied and content with where I am at. Faced with someone else’s death, I was certainly encouraged to reflect, and consider if I would have any regrets were I in my mother’s position.
Feelings in Sharper Focus
The experience of sitting with my mum until her last breath really highlighted for me the inner feelings I often experience. I’m not sure if you identify with it, but it’s a feeling of ‘busyness’, of always having to ‘do’ things, ‘achieve’ things, ‘tick things off’ a list. The feeling that there’s always more to be done, better things to experience. Feelings and things are always moving me away from the here and now. It’s something I was already aware of and, as a result, I’ve spent time working on improving my own self-care. Watching the passing of my mum’s life, however, brought it into sharper focus.
The Need for Self-Care is a Common Thread
I know I am not alone. I have had many a conversation with my clients about their self-care and about giving more to themselves. It is a common thread I see running through my clients. Many neglect themselves and what they need. Why do we put ourselves last? For this reason, I want to delve into this self-care stuff a bit deeper with you.
What Do We Mean By Self-Care?
When I talk about self-care, I don’t just mean at the top level, such as booking yourself a massage. I want you to go deeper and reflect on how, if you look after yourself in a greater sense, it will allow you to contribute more broadly to your family, friends and community, and be the person you want to be. This reflection might have you check in with your physical and mental health. You might ask yourself if you are connecting with those that are important to you. Are you satisfied with your goals and vision? If you were to die tomorrow, would you have any regrets? Do you feel like you’re living your values? Do you truly feel content within yourself?
You might be wondering, “Why is a Professional Organiser talking about this stuff? What’s it got to do with decluttering?” Well, to me decluttering, is beyond stuff in our home. I have written previously about decluttering your mind. I believe that decluttering involves uncovering what is important in your life and living with purpose. We can declutter not only our possessions but also how we spend our time and with whom. We can also consider how we feel and how we’d like that to change. It is about creating ‘space’ to BE who we a destined to be.
So, if you feel called to, I encourage you to take some time to check in with where you’re at. Are you at peace with who you are and where you’re headed? The following questions might help.
Opting-In to a Check-In
You don’t have to answer all of the below but maybe choose a few that jump out at you and ponder them a while:
- How are you feeling in your body?
- How are you feeling emotionally?
- What are your relationships like?
- Are you spending time with those you enjoy seeing?
- Do you feel like you’re coping with normal life stressors? Why/why not?
- How are you coping with the day-to-day tasks and pressures at home and work?
- Do you feel like you’re getting enough time to look after yourself in relation to food, exercise and downtime?
- If you were to die tomorrow, would you have any regrets?
- If you could live your perfect day, what would it look like? How different is it to now?
- How do you want to feel inside?
- What do you want to achieve?
- Why do you think you’re on this planet? What would be a ‘win’ when reflecting back on your life?
Maybe some of the answers to the above will surprise you. You might become aware that you’re coasting along really well, or that you have several things you’d like to work on. It will give you an idea if you’re mentally, and emotionally healthy. They say being healthy in this way is proven to enhance your energy, restore your health and reduce stress levels. So there are plenty of good reasons to spend some time on this if you dare.
How To Bring Wellbeing into Focus
If you found yourself falling short of meeting your inner goals and desires (and therefore probably lacking in the self-care department), there are ways to go about bringing it into focus. There are some basics you’ve probably heard before. Like getting more rest, a good night’s sleep, learning to manage stress, being active and eating well. Great, there are a thousand blogs on those. What else then?
You could ask yourself, what does wellbeing look like, feel like and sound like to you? To me, it really is connecting to what I want to feel inside myself. When all is quiet and I have time to myself, do I want to feel that ‘busy’ feeling? Or do I want to feel calm? This may not be the question for you, but taking some time to ponder wellbeing in the different areas of your life might prove fruitful. In a perfect world, what would your world look like if you were doing well in your physical self, your mental or cognitive self, in your social world (family, community, friends) and your spiritual world? If you’re in balance and well, how do these areas of your life look?
What is The One Things You Can Do To Improve?
Depending on how you faired on your assessment, you might find it difficult to implement the change you need to maintain your perfect idea of wellbeing and self-care. Don’t despair. If you noticed there were a few things lacking, consider if there’s one manageable thing you can do to improve on your current state of being.
A seminar I attended once referenced Dr Dan Siegel. He found that there are seven essential ‘activities’ to optimise general well-being. These seven activities or ‘areas’ are part of his ‘healthy mind platter’ which is a nice visual way of picturing it. Instead of a platter of food, you’ve got a platter of ways to top up your health. In short, they are:
- Sleep Time – getting a good amount of sleep or rest allows us to consolidate learning and recover.
- Physical Time – being physical allows us to strengthen our bodies and brains.
- Focus time – focusing on tasks in a goal-oriented way helps make connections in the brain.
- Down time – letting our mind relax allows our brain to recharge, with things like mindfulness practises, taking deep breaths or checking in with your body to recentre. You know I’d encourage Clinical Emotional Freedom Technique too!
- Time in – self-reflection and focusing on our sensations, feelings and thoughts helps to better integrate the brain. Gratitude writing and journaling writing are common ways to do this.
- Playtime – being creative and playful helps make new connections in our brain.
- Connecting time – connecting with others and our surrounds activates and reinforces the brain’s relational circuitry. Taking time to nurture relationships that are important to you could be a nice way to get started.
Over to You
So, if your reflections uncovered some ‘holes’ for you to work on, the above seven areas might help you pinpoint ways to get a little closer to what you need to live your best life, to live a full life, your life, your values, without any regret. This is the essence of self-care and look after yourself in a deeper sense.
I’d love to hear your takeaways from your musings on your own self-care and what areas you’re ready to focus on. Why not jump into the WellSorted Facebook Group and share your thoughts, goals and dreams?