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Self care – It’s more than just taking care of yourself

“There are days I drop words of comfort on myself like falling leaves and remember that it is enough to be taken care of by my self.” – Brian Andreas

Do you look after yourself? Yes, of course you do, but what about self care? Is it the same thing or something else entirely?

In its rawest, most clinical form, the Self Care Forum defines self care as ‘the actions that individuals take for themselves, on behalf of and with others in order to develop, protect, maintain and improve their health, wellbeing or wellness’.

So, that means that as long as we brush our teeth, get enough sleep, join a gym and exercise for at least 30 minutes five times a week (after all the NHS guidelines are there for a reason), take a weekly Yoga class and only have the occasional takeaway, we’re OK; we’re looking after ourselves.

Right?

I don’t think so, no. I think it’s more complex than that.

You are much more than your physical body and it’s important that whatever you do to look after yourself embodies the whole of you – your mind, your body and your spirit. Are you taking care of yourself emotionally? What’s happening in your inner world, the part of you that’s hidden behind the front you portray for everyone to see?

We’re living in a society that’s busier than ever, expectations are higher than ever, stress and burnout are becoming epidemic and most of us are suffering from chronic information overload. In fact, a study performed by San Diego University found that the average US citizen is bombarded with 100,500 words and is subjected to around 12 hours of information and media every single day.

I wonder whether it’s really 12 hours in the UK, but if you think of all the emails, notifications, phone calls, texts, voicemails, tweets, likes, retweets, Instagram images, posts, tags, comments, videos, photos, pop-ups, headlines, adverts, blogs, searches, downloads, uploads, games, apps, MP3s, usernames, passwords, subscriptions, feeds, folders, files and captchas you deal with each and every day, it’s no wonder we’re all so busy.

Self care is a hot topic at the moment, but what does it really mean?

Self care is much more than just looking after yourself, and it’s not something that’s a buzz word only in celebrity circles.

Self care is about deep listening, embodiment and reconnection to you and your own needs. It’s listening to the feather light messages from your body and reacting, rather than waiting to hit that metaphorical brick wall. It’s about creating sacred time for you to be with you, doing what you want and need to do.

Sometimes you’ll avoid it, busy yourself, distract yourself because it can be hard to connect in with yourself if you know there’s a wound that needs healing or some emotion hidden away that you’re not ready to look at. But with practice, regular self care and deep listening will mean that you can let those hidden parts of you be welcomed back to the whole.

Sometimes self care might be getting under a blanket and resting, hiding from the world, and that’s OK. Sometimes it might be watching crap TV if the thing you need to look at within yourself is too big to go to in one go…

Sometimes it will take baby steps, but acknowledging this and having an awareness of it is the first step.

Avoidance, distraction and creating more busyness are all diversions from a deeper longing that we want to avoid looking at…

So, self care is self love in action. It’s about filling your own well so that you have the energy to help others fill theirs too.

“Be you, love you. All ways, always.” – Alexandra Elle

I think it’s very sad that we read so much about self care in the business press where there’s often little or no distinction between what’s needed to recover from the stresses of life and of work and what’s needed to recover for work, for career enhancement, to improve productivity and inspire creativity. Many people see self care as simply a way to rejuvenate and re-energise themselves so they can work harder and work faster – in the same role that caused them so much stress in the first place.

It’s a viscous circle playing itself out over and over again, but there’s absolutely no point trying to treat the symptom if you’re unwilling or unable to address the cause.

“Say no to the demands of the world. Say yes to the longings of your own heart.”-  Jonathan Lockwood Huie

I’ve recently written a blog about the importance of listening to our bodies during the different phases of our menstrual cycles as our energy shifts during each month and also during the seasons of the year and the phases of our lives. Consequently, our self care needs change day by day, month by month and year by year. What’s most important is supporting yourself to know what you need, and you’ll only know that through investigation and observation, deep awareness and connection.

We’re currently moving from Autumn to Winter and we’re becoming more introspective; we’re slowing down, becoming more reflective and more willing to let go of what no longer serves us. It’s a good time to look inwards, to listen and to hear.

When you listen to the messages your body is whispering, what do you hear?

“We all have those things that even in the midst of stress and disarray, they energise us and give us renewed strength and purpose. These are our passions.” – Adam Braun

What’s your passion? What do you need to do to connect to yourself, to become whole again?

For some people, it may be playing a musical instrument, immersing themselves in the changing sounds and the intricacies of the tune. For others, it could be through writing poems or journaling, conquering the challenging terrain of Kinder Scout, walking barefoot on the beach or riding a horse.

Maybe from a career perspective, it could be negotiating flexible working hours with your boss, cutting down to part time hours, avoiding the rush hour traffic or working from home two days a week.

For you, it may be starting to say no more often, creating space for Yoga or meditation practices accepting things you cannot control, being less critical of yourself, becoming more grounded or just being present.

Everyone is different, but whatever, your body is telling you, make sure you listen intently to its needs and act on what it’s telling you.

If you need support with your self care, I can guide you but only you can work out what you need and start a self care routine of practices that work for you.

I specialise in working with women one to one and enjoy being part of their journey of reconnection and self-discovery. I support women to find more balance and harmony in their lives by deepening their inner connection to their own body’s needs, helping them cope pre-conception, with fertility issues, prenatally, postnatally or during times of transition, grief or loss and helping alleviate the symptoms of menstruation, perimenopause or menopause.

If you feel that you would benefit from some nurturing allwoman support, please get in touch.

Lara Heppell

About Lara Heppell

I use the incredible healing, calming, strengthening and restorative power of yoga to help you find the balance you need, no matter what stage of life you’re at. I couple this with Mizan massage, belly binding, birth preparation and doula services to support you as needed.

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