A Month of Self-Care project update
So my self-care project for the month of June is over. (You can catch up with why I started the project here and how I felt after the first week here.) During the month my project evolved and developed.
Ticking the list
Having the tick list to fill in each day, and knowing that you were looking out for pics and updates on Instagram, worked well to hold me accountable to my challenge. Now it’s over I miss my tick sheet a little! It really helped me focus on what actions I wanted to take to be more compassionate to myself and be more mindful of how I spend my waking hours. I didn’t do everything on my list as often as I had originally intended but I’m okay with that. When I didn’t take action it was because I chose not to, rather than not allowing myself to.
Making my affirmation, ‘Today I choose to care and be kind to myself’, my phone wallpaper put the message front of my mind as I read it many times a day (shows how many times I check my phone!).
Helpful habit stacking
I used habit stacking to make it easier to incorporate self-care actions into my daily routine. So, between finishing breakfast and starting work I’ve slotted in my daily meditation. I’ve also been alternating practising loving-kindness meditation, known as metta, along with my regular meditation.
And after the postie collects my orders each afternoon I practice 20 minutes of yoga. I find following Yoga with Adriene’s videos a brilliant way to make yoga practice a part of my day, do check her out if you haven’t already. By exercising at the end of my work day I find I’m able to make a clearer division between work and home life, not easy when you work at home and love what you do! I may pick up my laptop later in the evening but it’s less of an automatic continuation and more of a conscious choice.
Prioritising reading, that is making time to read over doing something else, has been joyful! The happiness I feel by simply reading a book or magazine is really quite immense. I know that’s not how everyone feels about reading but it is one of my greatest pleasures, it nourishes, calms and restores me. If there is something that you enjoy this much you will benefit by making time for it, more on this below.
By focusing on self-care as a project I’ve given the topic more attention that I have in the past. In this way I have been more mindful of my behaviour, more intentional about how I spend my time and paid more attention to how I feel. I’ve given myself the space to think of what I really need and want in a day, whether it’s to keep working, do some gardening, stretch myself in yoga, laugh over a meal with friends, lie on the couch reading, or focus on my breath for a few seconds. It’s so easy for us all to go about our days on automatic pilot, not consciously living as we want or need to. There are plenty of things we have to get done in a day but being more mindful of our actions and how we’re feeling means we can do these essential tasks while paying attention to our own needs too.
Self-care is in the mind
Self-care isn’t just about what you do and how you treat yourself physically. It’s also about how you treat yourself mentally, the way you talk to yourself. Women so often feel guilty about taking care of themselves that even if they do something they know is beneficial they’ll tell themselves they don’t deserve it or they’re being selfish. Which undoes the benefits!
Let’s stick with the example of my action to read more, I know that taking half an hour to read will increase how happy I feel. Now, I could tell myself that I should be doing something more productive than reading, like working or cleaning or filing paperwork, and that I don’t deserve to do something I like until I’ve done all my jobs.
But, here’s the but.
I know that reading for 30 minutes doesn’t just give me pleasure, it gives me the kind of happiness that calms my nerves and mind, slows my heart rate, reduces my blood pressure, and makes me feel more compassionate and loving to those around me. Taking a relatively small amount of time to do something that gives me joy makes me a happier person to be around. By taking care of myself I’m energised and equipped to better care for those around me.
Acts of self-care don’t seem so selfish now, do they?
Self-care is big topic and one that I’m going to continue to work on and mull over, with regard to my own journey and how I can help you in the future to take better care of yourselves.
If you have been taking steps, however small, to be more compassionate to yourself I would love to hear about them. You can leave a comment below or email me firstname.lastname@example.org.
And because a quote I shared this morning struck a chord with Instagram followers I have made it into a printable poster, and wallpapers for your phone and desktop. You can download them from the Nook of Inspiration now.