Looking after ourselves is always important, but especially so when we have taken on additional responsibilities at home or work, are facing a new reality, or feeling uncertain about the present and what the future holds. These situations can throw us out of balance, impacting our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
When we are feeling low, frightened, overwhelmed or fatigued, or a combination of these, we might not automatically think of exploring holistic therapy as a way of helping ourselves regain a sense of calm. Yet complementary therapists often hear stories of those who are so busy trying to ensure everyone else is okay, they forget to look after themselves.
Taking care of ourselves is neither selfish nor indulgent – it is an absolute must if we are to be capable of looking out for others. It is crucial for us to get through the difficult and unsettling times we are coping with right now. We all need a little ‘me time’.
Top tips for wellbeing and self care
Hospiscare Complementary Therapist Sarah Carter has provided these six quick yet powerful tips for Self Care:
Pockets of time – When it comes to taking a breather, quality of time trumps quantity. You will be amazed at how consistent smaller breaks help raise energy levels and promote relaxation. Anxiety, panic and exhaustion are escalated by rushing around from task to task, so find short gaps in your daily routine to stand still, slow down your breathing and just STOP.
Sleep hygiene – While getting a quality night of sleep can be difficult, there are a few things that can be done to help ease yourself into bed. For starters it is important to create an environment that will induce sleep, so reading a book, having a hot bath, a warm drink, dimming the lights and limiting your amount of screen time can help to let your body know it is time to settle down.
The ‘Energy Bank’ – Does saying yes to this request mean I am saying no to myself? It’s a good question to ask yourself. Sometimes we have to put the needs of others before our own, especially in times of crisis, so then it is a good idea to check how your energy is currently being spent in other areas. If you feel like you may be overdrawn, make small daily deposits into your ‘energy bank’ until the balance is cleared. You can do this by not taking on any more than your current energy levels will allow. If you don’t have a healthy balance, this might mean saying ‘no’, and that is okay.
Keeping ourselves nourished – when we’re low, eating well can be one of the first things we drop – and that can in turn make us feel worse. Planning health meals, shopping and cooking can feel overwhelming when we’re down, but here are a few things we can do to help keep us nourished and on an even keel: 1. Keep a bag of frozen veg in the freezer and tins of low-salt soups and beans in a cupboard, as well as nuts or a jar of nut butter – these will help get healthy calories and nutrients into your body when all you want to do is snack or heat something in the microwave. 2. Eat with loved ones when you can, either in person or via a Zoom call. 3. try to eat at the same time every day at 3-4 hour intervals.
Touch – Skin-to-skin contact is incredibly nourishing and raises oxytocin levels in the body that create a sense of peace, security and comfort. Massage is great for this but even gentle strokes on the arms and hands can begin to bring about a sense of calm when done repeatedly and slowly. Here is a link to a brief hand reflexology routine that can be carried out to relieve stress and anxiety: Hand Reflexology Routine
Guided visualisation – This is a technique that combines visualisation and relaxation to combat anxiety, pain and persistent thoughts and fears. Studies have shown that it lowers blood pressure, decreases stress hormones, enhances sleep and boosts the immune system. Click here to find out more: Headspace – Guided Imagery
Maybe we should all consider trying out some of these techniques, because we can’t take care of others if we don’t look after ourselves by practising self-care.