We live in a time of upheaval and change. From gender-based violence in our own country to turbulent politics further afield, your news feed is probably full of stories that upset you and cause worry and anxiety. But now more than ever, we need to learn how to care for ourselves, if we want to help others. The old adage of securing your own oxygen mask before helping others still rings true – because we are of no use to anyone if we are mere shadows of ourselves.
While we do know that empowerment starts from within – the concept of “self-care” gets thrown around a lot – it’s not as trite as simply having a bubble bath or eating some chocolate. In fact, self-care goes deeper than that, and it means different things to different people. Here are some simple hacks to better self-care which will give you the energy and drive to start effecting positive change in the world around you:
Think of one thing to do for yourself that doesn’t involve work, family or fitness
This can be tricky for us busy women who are juggling all the things! Perhaps you feel that you barely have time to fit in a run, care for your family and meet all those work expectations? But this one extra thing doesn’t have to be a significant time investment. It can be as simple as 30 minutes before bed, where you light a candle and meditate, or listen to a fascinating podcast from one of your favourite thinkers. Maybe it’s planting some seeds in a flower bed and then weeding and caring for them each week? Squeeze in something that’s “just for you” and watch how much better this makes you feel.
Organise your world
Does this sound like yet another chore? Well, once it’s done, you’ll be amazed by the difference it makes. Start with something you use every day: your clothing and shoes. There are many blogs these days focused on making your wardrobe work better for you: pass on items you no longer wear, figure out what’s missing, refold items so you can see them all at a glance. Doing this will make getting dressed in the morning so much easier and more enjoyable, giving you more head space for other things. Do the same with your desk, your grocery cupboard and the rest of your home, and you’ll quickly reap the benefits as you reset your life.
Keeping feelings bottled up harms your mental state. If someone has said or done something that upsets you, tell them this in a way that benefits both of you. Don’t fly off the handle, but take some time to consider why you’re upset, and then approach them tactfully, explaining why. They may not even have realised the impact their actions were having, and so doing this will not only make you feel better, but strengthen your relationship as well (as long as they are open to it).
It sounds so simple, but it’s impossibly hard for many of us to do. If you are a professional multi-tasker and people pleaser, you are probably the person who takes on too much. Organising all the eats at the next school function, arranging a surprise birthday party for a friend, dog sitting your friend’s pooches for three weeks while they are away – on top of your everyday duties for family and work – can quickly become overwhelming. Learn to say No with kindness and meaning, protecting the sacred space that is your wellbeing. Whether this is no to social occasions, no to extra duties, or even saying no to friends or family who bring only negativity with them – doing this will help you feel more empowered, and more content within yourself.
We all know that we need to do this more, but try and schedule this into your life in a practical way. Put your phone away in a drawer for three hours or turn it off after a certain time each afternoon. Take social media apps off your phone so you can only access them via your desktop. Some advocates are even recommending one day a week free of all connectivity, like Tiffany Shlain does in her new book 24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week.
Implementing just a few of these self-care hacks will do the world of good − to little old you, and the wider world at large.