Friday, 15 August 2014

Looking after one's self † the importance of self-care

As it often is with my posts, this post has been written after reading other people's comments on other blogs/websites.

I think it's an incredibly important topic which should be addressed, and something that people are not always aware of.

A bit of background: I do a little bit of volunteer work on the side (squeezed in between my three jobs and Masters - did I tell everyone I'm doing a Masters now?) with a youth group in my area. We are working on a mental health project, and one of the big things that seems to come up is self-care.

Self-care is, well, taking care of yourself. It's important to take time out from work to do things you enjoy. It's important to disengage for a while from people who are negative, hurt and suffering, even if you feel like they need constant help and attention. This is not about being selfish; it's about staying sane, objective and at your optimum.

I'm very interested in the idea of self-care because:
1. I'm an introvert. I.e. I seek time alone to re-energise, as opposed to an extrovert who seeks other people in order to re-energise.
2. I've had mental health issues which could otherwise interfere with my work, and I am a person who always wants to be useful. Stopping me working is a bad thing.
3. I know a lot of people who have and have had mental health issues, many of whom are very close and dear to me. It is important that, having spent so much time around such hurt people, I take a little time out for myself so that I can continue to support them.

So, how do you self-care?

I'll explain what I personally do, and then give some other ideas for self-care. These are a mix of very simple and very involved processes.

1. Stay warm
Although not always the case, I generally love to be warm and cosy. In summer, that means basking outside for a little bit. In winter, it means warm blankets and hot baths and showers. Hot drinks such as fruit tea, genmaicha and hot chocolate are great for this.

2. Aromatherapy
Candles, incense, bubblebath/bath salts and fresh flowers are all welcome to me. My favourite scents are mango, rose, sandalwood, apple and vanilla (although this one reminds me of cupcakes and makes me hungry).

3. A good book (or blog post)
Reading is no longer something I can just instantly engage in. It's something that takes a little more time to work myself around to doing. In addition, the book itself cannot be too suspenseful, and has to be something I have read before, otherwise I get too excited and I rub my tongue against my teeth without realising... resulting in a very sore tongue by the end of the book... I find simple blog posts about things are better to read.

4. Tidy up
I have a personality type that loves to be efficient and organised, but not compulsively. From where I am sitting on my bed, I can see a magazine on the floor, along with my work bag, my work boots and an exercise book I'm using for Masters. And that's okay. Only a small amount of mess, in a room that is otherwise, if not super super neat, very organised. In my room, if I want something, I can pinpoint where it is right away, as everything has it's place. I gain a great deal of satisfaction in tidying up, throwing out and re-arranging things. It gives me a fresh perspective and a lighter feeling.

5. Tarot/oracle/runes/etc
I currently have one set of oracle cards (the wonderful Kuan Yin 觀音 set), a set of angel tarot cards, and some rune stones I made myself. Although I do not believe that such things actually tell the future, I find they are excellent for meditation. The cards and runes suggest possibilities that I might otherwise have missed, particularly if I am stressed and my thoughts are jumbled. it's good for sorting out thoughts at a time like that.
For example, the other day I wok still feeling a little on edge and anxious. In situations where I have no specific focus for my concerns, I like to do a one-card draw, and that day I used the Kuan Yin set. I drew 'Dynasty of the Divine Mother'.

The interpretation reads:
The only wish of the Divine Mother Goddess is that all beings be spiritually free. The Divine Goddess calls us to realise our true nature, to fall in love with our own divinity. Enlightenment is a culmination of small steps, each one as a drop of water forming a divine ocean of peace, realisation, love and unity within us, an ocean that washes away fear, separation and scarcity and bathes us in abundance and bliss. You carry the torch of enlightenment in you, beloved. Let it shine each day.

I interpret this to mean, generally: Calm down, honey. You're awesome. just continue to be awesome. :D

6. Be gentle
It is important to treat yourself carefully. I don't mean to act to spoilt and avoid doing things because you don't like them, but recognise your boundaries. Know when you need to stop for a while.

There are other things I like to do to self-care, but it'll take a while to go through them in detail so I'll make a list instead:

  • Listen to music
  • Play with a pet/animal
  • Go for a walk (usually alone, for me)
  • Massage (if I can't get someone to give me one, I just roll a tennis ball between my back and the floor/a wall)
  • Eat something nice but light (I often go vegetarian for a bit)
  • Talk to someone: this one is incredibly important. Find someone you trust, or even a professional, and just talk. It helps, honest.)
  • Craft things :)
So, please share what you do to look after yourself. Also take a little time to consider whether you are looking after yourself enough, and if not, what will you do to give yourself more love?

1 comment:

  1. You are so right about taking time out occasionally to look after yourself, and I was surprised at how much your list mirrored mine - particularly reading 'comfort' books (in my case David Eddings, Harry Potter & C.S. Lewis), walking by myself - and using tarot cards. Like you I don't think they predict the future, but they do make me ask the questions that have been preying on my mind, and look at how they arose and what I can do about it. Really helps clear my head, though I am strictly an amateur.

    I also like to sing while cleaning my kitchen :)


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