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Self Care Sunday... and not a yoga session in sight!

Now, before you start wondering I'm not saying yoga isn't a great form of relaxation, it is but it just doesn't work for me.

The thing about self-care is that it needs to be unique to you, if you are not interested or forced into things it's not going to have the same impact on lifting your spirits and making you feel better as things that you enjoy would.

So what is self-care?
The Self Care Forum ( defines it 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.
When you are well, self-care isn't much of an issue as you have the desire and energy to do things that are enjoyable. For instance, this week has been really busy for me and I have been doing lots of things for other people. To ensure I balance this out I need to take care of myself so I don't become drained. Over the past few days I have tried to get more sleep - no setting the alarm in the morning; eat well and healthily (all the cake from WMHD meant eating rubbish for days); took a day off work and went shopping; I got my nails done; I painted the hallway; and I had a long soak in bath. Painting will be someone else's idea of hell but I find it really therapeutic and it helps to clear my mind of all the thoughts that are consuming it. It's also the sense of achievement I get from looking at my finished work and knowing "I did that".

This week I have also signed up for a 4 week mindfulness course with Be Mindful Online, there was an offer on for World Mental Health Day, and I do love an offer!

I have been dipping in and out of guided meditations for several months now using the Headspace app When you have anxiety it is very easy for your brain to be on constant red alert - argh this thing that happened in the past is going to happen again, only worse; or the world is going to end and I've achieved nothing...I'm a failure; it is the constant worry of things that are not in your control and may never even happen.

My head is a bit busy at the moment and so I think it is a good time to incorporate mindfulness into my every day life. I think by training myself to be more present, it will stop the constant spiralling thoughts in my head. It's week one so I'll speak about it in a blog post in a few weeks time.

I think Self-Care becomes entirely different when we are unwell. Depression can make the most simple of tasks challenging. Getting out of bed is like climbing Everest...that may sound dramatic to someone who hasn't experienced mental illness but I can assure you the effort is very real and exhausting. I decided to write down a few of my "real" self-care tips that should be celebrated on the days we feel particularly rubbish.

Getting out of bed and brushing your teeth should be totally celebrated, if brushing your teeth is too much a quick swill of mouthwash can make you feel that tiny bit better. You may laugh or be outraged that I'm not encouraging better personal hygiene but I can assure you that it is at the very bottom of your to-do list when you are REALLY struggling to make it through the day.

Don't judge me if I haven't washed my hair all week, a bit of dry shampoo takes off the greasy sheen and makes me a little bit more presentable... and you wouldn't know unless I told you!

Idea of taking a shower too much? Invest in some wet wipes to clean your bits and then plenty of deodorant and perfume will see you through having to make that trip to the GP for a check up. I am not ashamed in the slightest that I have done this in the past and again - would you have known if I hadn't told you? I think not.

Self-Care doesn't have to be an extravagant 3 week retreat; a Spa weekend or a 5 star all inclusive holiday. There are some very simple and some may say boring things that you can do in the comfort of your own home that can make you feel a little more human.

Remember, you are not alone and do not be ashamed of celebrating the smallest of achievements.

Take care of YOU!
Natalie x


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