Has all that good work and effort we so imaginatively created and executed to ‘self-care’ for ourselves during lockdown now disappeared again in a blur of post-pandemic relapse?
Some time has now passed since we emerged from that crazy time that was lockdown. It may feel like we’re pretty much back to ‘normal’ (not the ‘new normal’, because that phrase still sucks)…yet just as we had to work hard to slow ourselves down, are we now at risk of working even harder to speed back up again and is it already time for a reset?
As we slip back into our go-go-go post-pandemic lives, there is a real risk that we will inadvertently allow ourselves to let all the things that get in the way of taking care of ourselves ebb away. ‘I’m fine’ we tell ourselves. All we need to do is pull ourselves together, push through, and just get stuff done.
Hmmm…. almost definitely wrong!
The power of putting ourselves first simply helps us, so that we can function at our very best. Taking time to care for ourselves is crucial. It helps us to feel relaxed, recharged and nourished. It gives us meaning and empowers us to accomplish what we need and want in our lives. When we put ourselves first, we’re then in the best possible place to show up and be there for other people in our lives whether that’s at work, at home, in relationships, with families and friends, and as caregivers.
So, let’s pause, reflect and reset to remind ourselves of how easy it can be to manage our self-care:
Take time to reset
Allow yourself a break, step away from the ‘to do’ list, slow the pace right down to reflect and re-group on the important things, rather than the stuff you ‘think’ you should be doing. Self-care doesn’t have to be an action item, it’s simply about freeing up some time and space for the things that matter in your life, and sometimes removing those that steal your energy.
We all know that good sleep, healthy eating, less alcohol and keeping active helps us feel and think better. Work out what works for you. We each need to indulge in what is meaningful, achievable and enjoyable! For me, traditional exercise isn’t particularly enjoyable in the moment, yet I love the endorphin-effect and the impact it has on my mental health as well as my physical health. Making space to refuel and recharge to perform well does actually make a whole load of sense.
Set and protect your boundaries
In the midst of juggling the myriad of pulls from busy home, work, and personal lives, the lines can easily start to blur, big time! Hesitate in filling up your schedule, overbooking, and spreading yourself too thin. Small things such as creating diary space to go for a lunchtime walk can make a big difference. Do the work to focus on what you want to get rid of, and what you want to keep. Once set, remember that they are your boundaries and no-one is going to protect them as fiercely as you should.
Release those 'happy hormones'
For some, that might be getting physical, like going for a run, gardening or walking the dog. For others, something creative and practical like baking, art, sewing, or knitting hits the spot (one of my personal favourites is forever-intermediate-piano-playing). Whatever it is – meditation, a hot bath, listening to a podcast, popping on your favourite playlist or relaxing with an audiobook, happiness comes from doing something you find pleasure in and focuses your attention elsewhere for a while.
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Enjoy the healing power of nature
Cue the big sigh…but fact! It’s scientifically proven that getting outdoors, grabbing ‘green-ness’ and reconnecting with nature can lower levels of anxiety, stress and overwhelm, helping us to see things much more clearly. Particularly those moments when you would much rather stay chained to your desk and keep chipping away, are exactly the times to force yourself out there to achieve a mindset reset, so that you can come back feeling much more motivated and refreshed.
Take a break from constant screen consumption
We allow ourselves to be bombarded, don’t we? How about muting those group chats for a few hours, turning off social media notifications, getting rid of the pings and pongs of your devices or consciously limiting the intake of the rolling 24 news agendas that are known to impact mood and emotions? Being constantly plugged into the matrix detriments our wellbeing over the long-term. Use technology wisely. Intentionally. Selectively. Try unplugging for a while.
Spend time with your special people
Restrictions, social distancing, virtual catch-ups are a thing of the past my friends. Let’s get connecting, and reconnecting irl / in real life. For no other reason than it’s easy to forget that we are social creatures who crave connection, and that is wonderful!