New project: a Month of Self-Care
Today marks the start of a new project, as well as a new month, for me. I’ve been reading so much about the importance of self-care and how it benefits so many more people than just yourself, that I’ve decided to tackle the topic head-on.
While some may consider self-care to be self-indulgent, narcissistic even, research has shown that looking after your own wellbeing benefits your family, friends, work mates and wider community as well as yourself. Even the NHS are advocates for self-care because if we make healthy lifestyle choices we’re less likely to become ill and need medical treatment and intervention. You can’t work well, care for others and be a positive force in the world if you’re running on empty.
Why a self-care project?
Well, I’m not great at taking care of myself. I’m self-employed running two businesses, which I love and makes me happy, but I do have a tendency to let my work rule my life. There’s always a never-ending to do list and something to work on so it’s easy to push my own needs and wellbeing to the end of the list. And as we all know, you never get to the end of the list. I want to bring a little more balance into my life, take better care of myself so that I can be of greater contribution to others, and ultimately, to feel healthier and happier. Because that’s how we all want to feel, isn’t it?
I’m recording my self-care project here because I’m a classic Obliger, one of the Four Tendencies outlined by Gretchen Rubin in her book about habits, ‘Better Than Before’. As an Obliger I’m great at meeting outer exceptions but rubbish at meeting my own, inner expectations. So, by telling you lovely people that I’m taking action to be kinder to myself I’m much more likely to do it than if I just said it in my head. You’ll hold me accountable, and as I don’t want to let you guys down, I’m going to work hard to stick to my plan! If I just promised myself it would be less likely to happen.
How the Month of Self-Care will work
So, for the month of June I’m going to follow specific steps to take better care of myself. I’ve drawn up a tick sheet (of course) to keep track of my actions, and so I can see if I’m falling behind. The actions I’ve decided upon fall into four categories – complete daily, complete five out of seven days, complete at least once a week or once a month. The actions are a mixture of those that research has shown to be beneficial to our wellbeing, and some which I believe will make me feel happier. A couple of them I already do but as my research has shown that they’re beneficial to our wellbeing I’m tracking them as part of the project too.
:: Daily actions
• Walk my dog, Georgie, with my husband (I do most days but as exercise is integral to our wellbeing I’m including it on my chart)
• Meditate (I meditate already but not every day and I’m going back to guided meditations for this month)
• Practise gratitude (writing in my gratitude journal is one thing I do well!)
• Read for at least half an hour a day (one of my favourite activities and yet I make hardly any time for it)
:: Complete 5 out of 7 days a week
• Do 20 minutes of yoga
• Switch off digital devices by 9pm (eek, this is going to be tough!)
• Wake up by 7am and be in bed by 10.30pm
:: Complete at least once a week
• Have fika (fika is a Swedish word without literal translation, it roughly means to enjoy a proper tea/coffee break where you take the time to focus on making and drinking your tea or coffee and eat a tasty treat with it too)
• Self-hand massage (I have horribly dry hands because I always put off rubbing in hand cream to do something else)
• Home spa treatment (again, I rarely do anything pamper-ish such as use a face mask or a deep hair conditioner or paint my nails)
:: Complete at least once in the month
• Buy flowers (I’ve got a headstart on this as I’ve signed up to Bloom & Wild’s flower subscription)
• Go out for tea and cake (something else I love doing but often feel guilty that it’s self-indulgent. And I live four doors away from a tea room!)
• Spa treatment (carried out by a professional, e.g. massage, facial, manicure)
Trying out an affirmation
I’ve created an affirmation that I shall say to myself every day: Today I choose to care and be kind to myself.
I haven’t used affirmations before so I’m interested to see what influence on myself and my day it could have. In the coming week I’ll design an affirmation mini poster to put on my wall as well as a desktop and phone image so that I can keep driving the self-care message home.
Here’s where you, lovely reader, come in
As I described above, external accountability is really going to help me with this challenge! So, every Wednesday I’m going to report back here to let you know how it’s going, what I’ve found difficult or easy (here’s hoping!) about the challenge and what impact, if any, I think it’s having. I’ll also be posting on Instagram with #monthofselfcare so do take a look at how I’m getting on there, I’m @gabrielletreanor.
How well do you take care of yourself? Is there anything you’d like to do more or less or to be kinder to yourself? If you’d like to share how you practice self-care or have any ideas for how else I can take better care of myself I’d LOVE to hear from you! You can leave a comment for me below or on my Instagram posts or write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Okay then, Month of Self-Care here I come!