The importance of self-care

Self-care seems to be a bit of a buzz word at the moment particularly as we become more open in our discussions about mental health.

Some employers have started to offer self-care days or “personal days” which their employees can take off when they feel like they may be reaching burnout. The theory is this promotes a positive attitude when it comes to looking after our mental health and reduces the stigma attached with not being able to manage stress.

But what does self-care mean and how does it relate to other aspects of our lives?

By definition, self-care is any activity that we do with the intention of looking after our mental, emotional, and physical health. These three things impact virtually every aspect of our lives if we support the line of thinking that our health is our most valuable attribute. By this definition, self-care is very important to protecting our health and therefore ensuring we are the best version of ourselves in order to go about our lives.

Why then, do we not prioritise self-care more in our day to day lives? After all, if we have poor mental, physical or emotional health (or a combination of the three!) we are unlikely to be living the quality of life we deserve.

When I was working as a head teacher, the long hours and stress of the job resulted in me neglecting my physical health. I put weight on, became very lethargic and this undoubtably had a knock-on effect on my ability to perform in my job and in my attitude to things outside of work.

My solution after leaving the role and re-evaluating my priorities was to make some big changes which happened to centre around looking after myself. Here’s an insight into the ways I incorporate regular self-care into my routine.

  1. When it came to my physical health, I decided to enlist the help of an expert. I began training weekly with Owen Philips, a personal trainer who I still see to this day. I found that working with Owen, a professional, I was able to learn about my body and what works best for me. It was also a huge motivation knowing that I had someone else encouraging me to succeed in this area of my life but also someone to answer to if I slipped off the wagon! Owen taught me that balance is best when it comes to diet and exercise and over the years I have not only lost 3 stone, but kept it off and transformed my lifestyle in the process.

 

  1. Focusing on and understanding my own mindset. This has been another huge learning curve because like so many people I used to feel emotions and never really delve into the reasons why. Someone who has helped me to understand what makes me tick is Tristan Lee, also known as the Gorgeousness coach. Tristan and I have worked closely together and he’s taught me the key principles to understanding my own mindset and how to control it. This has had a positive impact when it comes to reaching my goals. He has also reignited my passion for cooking and nutrition as we share healthy plant-based recipes.

 

  1. Take a break! Working flat out 24/7 is no good for anyone yet so many people put pressure on themselves to be constantly working or constantly moving at a hundred miles an hour. Our brains need time to rest but also to be stimulated by things other than that pile of paperwork on your desk or that report you’ve been writing for days. I feel so fortunate that I know have a good work life balance, I can switch off when I am on holiday, spend quality time with my family and finally enjoy my hobbies without feeling guilty. Make time, even schedule time if you have to and step away from the work and into your life.

 

I know, from experience, that when we are feeling our best mentally, physically and emotionally we are able to perform at our best and self-care is at the very heart of this. Look after yourself and your goals should look after themselves.

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