Yesterday I celebrated International self-care day. So I thought I’d write a blog post about it too!
My Personal Journey of Self-Care
I’ve been on a personal journey towards improving my own self-care in the last few years. I hope my authentic sharing will help you to see it’s okay not to be perfect, and that we are all on the same journey together to balance caring for ourselves as well as others.
I don’t care for my body the way most people do, I guess. Appearance, although I know it’s important, is quite boring for me! Shopping for clothes is a bit of a torture for me for some reason!
Physical exercise is also not something I’ve massively got into. I haven’t been to the gym for ages. My main exercise for the last year has probably been brisk walking, which I love. The only time I enjoy physical exercise is if it’s part of a sport like badminton or tennis, or if I’m running to raise money for a cause or part of some group.
In terms of food, I’ve been brought up vegetarian and continue to do. In fact, I’m 95% vegan now. I wish I could say it’s a self-discipline based on ethics and the environment, but to be honest, it’s because I’m lactose intolerant. But I’m very happy that my intolerance is very good for the environment too, and whenever I organise events, I encourage vegan food only. Food wise, I mainly eat whatever I find tasty, rather than just healthy. Luckily some healthy foods are also tasty so that works out well!
For my mental and emotional wellbeing, I’m far more interested and self-caring. I do meditate regularly, most mornings, and enjoy other healthy activities like reflecting on what I’m grateful for from time to time, mindful walking, teaching mindfulness and kindfulness and spending time with nice friends.
I love doing acts of kindness, practising being generous and helping others when I can. And I’m also conscious not to doing too to please others all the time, and make time for myself too. I always invest a lot of money and time in attending trainings, conferences and retreats. Going away on retreats is probably the biggest act of self-care that I do.
I know relationships are really important for wellbeing, but I’ve noticed when I don’t feel that good, I prefer to avoid friends! Or anyone! I’m most likely to either sleep, watch comedies on YouTube, go for a walk - usually walking to the park. It’s on these times that the opposite of self-care happens and I can be hard rather than nice to myself. I can end up judging myself - ‘why are you being so lazy?’, ‘why don’t you have more energy?’, ‘you should be working harder’ and so on. It’s not easy to catch these thoughts when in that state of mind. But I’m definitely getting better. If I feel really tired, I do go to bed. And when I’m having one of those tricky days, I don’t force myself to work too hard. I accept my feelings, remind myself that they will pass (although they always feel like they never will for some reason!) and so on.
These kinds of judgmental thoughts can come up in meditation too. Thoughts like ‘Why won’t my mind stop wandering off so much’ or ‘Oh my God, I think I’ve been thinking for that whole meditation’, or ‘I should be better at meditating, I’m a meditation teacher!’. A little bit of reflection reveals none of these thoughts are true. There is no such thing as a bad meditation. And thoughts are just that - thoughts. They come and go. There’s also always a cause for the way each meditation went - it’s not random - due to what’s happening in my life and how I’m feeling at the time.
Try Out My Favourite Self-Care Questions
As it’s self-care day, I’m going to be practising being caring towards myself. Why don’t you try them too?
Dear body, how can I best take care of you today?
Dear mind, how can I best take care of you today?
What responses did you get? Here are mine!
Response from my body: Smile, have a nice tasty but not too heavy breakfast, and make sure you take me for a walk!
Response from my mind: Smile, don’t work too intensively, take breaks regularly and don’t spend too much time on the computer. Would be nice to do some short meditations throughout the day and some deep breathing exercises too.