2021 is in the rear mirror, and we are on the brink of something new and exciting. International travel has recommenced, small businesses are slowly rebuilding, first-year undergraduates are preparing for their university journey – yet among all this hopeful excitement, there’s this small sense of doom.
Coronavirus cases continuing to rise, political exhaustion settling in, and some restrictions being reintroduced, all have the power to affect our mental and emotional well-being. While we don’t have control over these things, the call to look after ourselves has never been louder.
Often when we talk about self-care, the conversation is divided. Half indulge in the time to look after themselves while the other half believe they don’t have the time to do it. The purpose of this article is to remind you to prioritise yourself and to provide simple but effective ways to do this.
- Practice mindfulness
From the moment we wake up, our minds are ticking over with our to-do lists. Before you know it, you’re at work and wondering how you even got there. Sound familiar? You’re not alone. It is estimated that 95% of our behaviour runs on autopilot. That’s because neural networks underline all our habits, reducing our millions of sensory inputs per second into manageable shortcuts so we can function.
Mindfulness is the opposite of this. It’s surrendering to the rush and deliberately taking inventory of the present moment. There are many ways to practice mindfulness. Could be as simple as you asking yourself questions like where am I, what can I smell, and what am I feeling? But if you want to take it to the next level, try the breathing function on your fitness watch or download an app for guided mindfulness. Smiling, Headspace and Calm are just a few great resources, and they’re also free!
- Declutter the clutter
There’s no denying that when our homes and lives are cluttered, we feel overwhelmed. More stuff equals more demands on our attention. It’s hard to focus because we are being pulled in all directions. A lot of us would be familiar with the work of Marie Kondo. Keep things that speak to the heart, and discard items that no longer spark joy. When was the last time you tidied out your room, closet or even the camera roll in your phone?
Don’t try and do everything in one go. Instead, make a list of the things you want to organise and approach it one by one. Before you ride the idea off, give it a shot. It can be weirdly therapeutic.
The benefits of decluttering are tried and true. It reduces stress, boosts productivity, helps you rediscover things you forgot you had but more than all these things, it avails space in your mind to focus on the things that really matter.
- Play like a kid
When you were a kid, what were your favourite things to do? Was it drawing? Dancing? Maybe it was going to your local theme park every summer.
We all have an inner child within us, which connects us to happiness and optimism in our lives. This inner child is part of our subconscious and helps us process or comprehend situations as we get older.
Give yourself permission to do the things that bring you pleasure and laughter. It doesn’t need to be structured. Let it be messy, welcome the wild and feel the freedom and spontaneity of your younger self.
- Disconnect to reconnect
Our worlds can be loud. Music blaring through our earphones, phone pinging with texts, and notifications constantly flowing that sometimes you think you’re in a revolver door that isn’t letting you out. The harsh reality is sometimes we choose to stay there.
Try to unplug for 30 minutes or a whole day if you can afford to. Use that time to be present or do something for yourself. We promise you; your social accounts aren’t going anywhere. Your newsfeed will still be there when you’re ready to connect.
- Prioritise like it matters
You’d never intentionally dodge an exam or important business meeting. As a matter of fact, you’d be so hyperaware of the details of the where and when, so you don’t miss it. Keep the same energy when prioritising self-care. Add it to your diary if you must.
At first, it’ll be hard to prioritise yourself, especially if you’re not used to it but like any new skill, the more you do it, the easier it’ll become.
So, there you have it. Debunk the myth that you don’t have time to look after yourself. You do; you just got to choose to have it.