Self-care is the actions we undertake to look after ourselves, physically, emotionally and mentally.
Self-care incorporates the essential acts of care that we all need to focus on – like eating well, keeping ourselves clean and getting enough sleep. On top of that though, self-care is what nourishes us personally: the things we do that comfort us, calm us, and make us feel good. These will vary from person to person – you might be drawn to creative activities, physical pursuits, mindfulness techniques, a combination of all three or something different altogether, whatever it is, when you find what works for you, keep doing it.
The Importance of Self-Care
I understand how important self-care is, but also how tricky it can be. I've gone through times where I've only showered once a week. I can admit that self-care is far from easy. When my self-worth is on the floor, making time to nurture myself feels like an unnecessary effort. I tell myself that I don’t need it, and I don’t deserve it. That it’s pointless and self-indulgent. That it’s selfish. But self-care isn’t selfish, it’s essential. I cannot do or be all the things I want to without taking care of myself. A car cannot keep driving forever without some kind of maintenance – regular fuel top-ups, services, MOT’s and repairs. I am exactly the same and so are you.
“I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival.” - Audre Lorde
Of course, I feel resistance around practicing self-care; I think that’s normal? I have spent so long telling myself that I’m unworthy, that showing myself kindness feels extremely discomforting. I also find that as I make building self-care into my life, some of the people around me seem unsettled too. Some people, i.e. my family (and some friends) find some of the things I do in the name of self-care strange, for example I might take my horse for a walk in hand or that I have weekly acupuncture but for me it’s crucial. Change can be uncomfortable for us all – but that doesn’t mean it’s not necessary. I struggle with change big time but in the name of self-care it seems a little easier.
I hope my journey can inspire you to make positive change. Because – whatever your head may say – you are worthy, and you do deserve better.
When you have a mental illness, it’s difficult to care about anything – least of all yourself. However, self-care is one of the key tools in our armoury for combating mental illness, so it is important that we make it a priority.
Remember that self-care is accessible to everyone, and even the smallest acts make a big difference. Take a look at my website and you'll see a little bit about self-care on almost every page.