How can I look after myself?
It's very easy to be so busy and occupied with what everyone else needs, that we forget about ourselves. We have family, friends, work commitments and they are all so important...
Well, they are, aren't they?
Yes, these matters are important but you can't deal with them unless you look after yourself first. It absolutely isn't selfish to do this. If you're worried about being selfish, just think - if you do collapse under the strain and you simply can't do all these things other people rely on you for, then isn't this a bit irresponsible of you? Won't it cause lots of inconvenience? Isn't it even, dare I say it, a bit selfish?!
So what's to be done?
Fortunately there are lots of simple and often, easy things, you can do to look after yourself.
This week is a good time to think about it, being National Self-care Week.
Here are ten top tips - do at least some of these things and you will see the difference.
- Look after your physical health and listen to your body, it knows what it's doing. Make use of its wisdom. Get in the habit of mentally checking over your body and see what niggles come up. You'd do the same for your car, wouldn't you?
- Get enough rest and sleep. Pulling an all-nighter to meet a deadline is really bad for you, whatever your macho business colleagues may like to tell you. And, it isn't efficient. Make your bedroom a work free zone and keep the electronic clutter out of it too.
- Exercise is important too, and it doesn't have to be hours at the gym. Even a couple of 15 minute walks, preferably when it's light, will help.
- Drink plenty of water, especially if you have a lot of caffeinated drinks. Aim for 1,500 to 2,000 ml a day, clear fluids rather than tea or coffee. And wine does not count!
- Eat regular meals - there is no moral or physiological virtue in skipping breakfast. You put fuel in your car and you need to do the same for your body.
- Be present in the here and now and pay attention to your surroundings. Often our worries are about what has already happened, which we can't now change or what might happen; it probably won't happen but you can't do anything about it until you get there! So be mindful and attentive to the beautiful world we are in.
- Learn something new every day. I don't mean take exams or slog through text books - rather, be interested in things. Watch the news, listen to Radio 4, look for fresh perspectives.
- Keep up with your friends - connection is very important. Make time for that coffee and a catch up.
- Do one thing at a time, even if your to do list would stretch to the moon. Multitasking is inefficient and tiring, as you actually can't do more than one thing at once; what happens is that you keep switching focus, very quickly and this drains your energy.
- Do something kind for someone; let them pull out in front of you, give a compliment, give praise. It's good for you and for them.
Which one of these things could you start to do today?
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About Barbara Bates
Barbara Bates is an experienced and qualified coach with a background in health, social care and nursing. She works particularly with professional people under pressure. She is based in Nottingham, with access to rooms in Sherwood and West Bridgford, and she also offers Skype sessions and online coaching programmes, especially about well-being.