As cliché as it may sound, in life, if you want to flourish, you have to nourish.
Nourishment isn’t just about eating healthily, exercising and getting enough sun. It’s also the way you care for yourself and how you take time out to replenish yourself so that you can be at your best.
Self-care is something that we’re generally not good at, especially as business owners. We see it as selfish or believe that it can wait. We don’t listen to ourselves enough. We just carry on in our busy day to day lives doing things for other people but tend to forget that if we don’t take care of ourselves first, we’re not much good to anyone else.
Self-care is the key to vitality and happiness - you shouldn’t feel guilty for prioritising it.
I know first hand that if you don’t care for yourself you run the risk of becoming ill, fatigued, stressed, anxious, depressed and overwhelmed. Not only does this have a knock on effect in your personal life but also in your work.
There have been countless times where I’ve got to this point and not wanted to do anything - even leave the house. I’ve spoken quite openly before about how I did get to the stage where I deleted everything. I wanted to take a step back from the overconsumption of everything and get back to doing what I loved. Even if that meant losing everything I’d worked for.
Today I want to share with you some reminders of what self-care might look like for you - a daily self care checklist almost. It’s about the little things both personally and professionally that add up to make a difference and to help us to flourish.
Do things which make you happy. I recently read Fearne Cotton’s book, Happy which encouraged me to write a list of the things I most enjoy. It surprised me to see how many things I’d let go of that brought joy to my life. Try writing your own list and blocking it out as a non-negotiable in your calendar.
Set intentions. I've found that sometimes with my anxiety, it means goals and objectives can be too much pressure. I'd find myself taking things too personally or become completely demotivated if I wasn't meeting all of them, month in, month out. Having intentions helps to keep me on track but eases off the disappointment and feeling of failure if I don't quite get there. Essentially, I treat them like my baseline - my intentions give me a plan of action but my goals encourage me to strive for more. The balance has definitely improved my mindset and actually I'm reaching my goals a lot quicker and more consistently because I'm breaking them down with my intentions.
Find ways to relax and have fun. Hands up if you work all the time or even find yourself getting bored when you’re not working. It’s important to make time for yourself and to be with family and friends where working isn’t an option. For me, this looks like going for a facial, heading out to the trampoline park (yes, even as an adult) or walking the dogs. Learn to be okay with being in the moment. We feel like we need to always be doing something but resting is vital.
Personal development. I’m a big believer in honing our craft so we can take our clients and customers on a journey. Your personal development doesn’t have to just mean learning something new in your field. Find a new hobby or take a course on something else you’ve always wanted to learn. You might be surprised at how the focus on something else helps you to find clarity in other areas. Just like when I meditate, I’m opening up my mind to other options whilst improving my connection with myself.
Food is fuel. It is possible to change our health and wellbeing through the food and drink we put in our bodies. Think about all the benefits certain foods can give to our body - skin, hair, nails, body, immune system, hormone balance, energy and also our mind - our mood. One of my clients has actually recently been looking at the connection between our gut and our mental health. As with everything, it’s not about stopping yourself from having what you want. But it’s about being in control of this and being aware of what your mind and body are telling you. Are you really hungry? Are you consuming enough? Are you getting what you need? Are you consistent? Are you listening?
Make healthy choices. My word for 2018 is ‘healthy’ - healthy eating, living, choices, relationships, finances, body, mind etc. You get to choose how you spend your time, energy and resources - even if you feel like they’re depleted right now. Consider what will be most beneficial for your health in the short and long term.
Exercise and meditate. It’s no secret that this helps both your physical and mental health. From yoga (or even doga) to running and walking (connecting with nature) to an aquaphysical class, there are so many options to help you to find something you enjoy doing. What is a fun activity to one person may not necessarily be fun to somebody else so if a friend is ‘dragging you along’ to an activity which you do not enjoy and actually feel more stressed about, tell them the truth. They may be a bit upset at first but they’ll get over it. You need to think about what is good for you!
Take time off when needed. Taking time for yourself recharges your mind and body and provides the energy you need both for yourself and to cope with others. A reminder that everything can wait.
Get enough sleep. Sometimes it is difficult to switch off when it comes to bedtime, especially if you’ve been working as late as I have recently. Your body is telling you it’s tired but your mind is still over-active. Prior to bedtime make time away from any technology, soak in a hot bath and then read a book or write in your journal for a short period of time. This should help both your mind and body to relax so that you can get a good night’s sleep.
Go on a holiday or day trips. This will do you the world of good. Physically change your environment away from your home and workspace. You may get the chance to try different healthy food and you will get any exercise you choose to take or relaxation (perhaps lying on a beach) you want. You should sleep better too. Providing you don’t drink too much alcohol you should feel re-energised and able to flourish! If you have gone to a sunshine destination the Vitamin D from the sunshine will help too.
Be around and stay in contact with people who make you happy. These people are more likely to be positive, uplifting people rather than those who are negative and will drain you. They may have been a client of yours previously who you may want to work with again if the opportunity arose. (Your ideal client)! Look at who and what is causing you to feel stressed and ways of reducing and better still, alleviating it.
Love yourself. Don’t put yourself down all the time. Praise yourself, use affirmations and write down things (no matter how small) that make you feel good. Identify what is important and meaningful to you - don’t be afraid to say no! Having love for yourself and others, compassion, fulfilment, joy, gratitude and forgiveness are all important components for spiritual health.
Don’t be afraid of showing your emotions. Laugh or cry when you want to. Laughter and having fun is the best medicine going! From experience, I know that sometimes, with some medications you can feel numb, so writing it down can really help when you’re unable to express this. Make time to be alone to reconnect with yourself and listen to your inner thoughts. Whenever is best for you (if like me, you might not be a morning person), try to take 10 minutes to just sit and think about how you are feeling physically, emotionally and spiritually. Remind yourself it’s okay to feel like this and to release these emotions. Meditation and mindfulness exercises will help relax your mind and body and produce the positive vibes that you need. Breathing exercises bring awareness to not just your mind but to the physical sensations in the different parts of your body. If you’re struggling to connect with your emotions, try a guided meditation from an app like Calm or Headspace.
Be hopeful, pray and show gratitude for what you do have. Each night, try listing the things you have to look forward to or the things you’re appreciative of. Say these out loud, write these down, share it in your own creative way.
Let go of things that are beyond your control. There is nothing you can do to say or change things in these situations. It will only cause you unnecessary worry and stress which in turn will have an effect on your mind and body and hold you back from flourishing. Don’t hold on to negative thoughts. If you have had a particularly hard day when nothing has gone right for you, don’t go to bed with those feelings as you will wake up still having them. Clear your mind of all those negative thoughts so you can start afresh the following day. Try physically letting go of something - whether you drop something, let something float away or close something. The act of doing this helps to make it real.
Take a break during the work day. Yes, that means get up and away from the computer. It doesn't mean eating and working at the same time.
Work in an environment which you feel comfortable in and perhaps where you find inspiration from. I promise you, working from the sofa or your bed isn't the dream. Nowadays, I'll do this maybe once a month. I find I have to separate my work/living spaces to maintain my concentration.
Know your limits. It is good to step outside of your comfort zone at times but don’t take on things which you know are going to be a problem for you right from the start.
Don’t take on too much work. Yes, you can outsource/delegate but if work on your own, just remember - you can’t do/be/know everything and to even try will have a detrimental effect on your mind and body.
Set boundaries with your clients. I've always been proud to say that I'm flexible within the boundaries we've agreed - it's one of the core values you'll find over on my Mission page. I've had the clients who contact you in the middle of the night with something urgent-but-not-urgent. I've feared losing clients by having to enforce the boundaries when actually it's much more respected.
It is so easy to forget to look after your own self-care but in order to survive in everyday life you need to treat this as a top priority. Everybody needs to make time for themselves in order to do this - your clients won’t think any less of you for admitting this!
You may think that your time is a valuable commodity especially to your business but in the long-term you will pay the price if you just ignore any signs that your mind and body are telling you that you’re burning out. Trust me, getting to this point may take a while to recover from.
Just remember, only you know what your mind and body is telling you so get into the habit of listening and taking action before you reach that stage. Self-care is an ongoing process.
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