Here are eight easy steps towards caring for yourself. If you follow these they can help you to recharge, feel better about yourself and your life.
1. NURTURE YOUR SOUL
It is very important to participate in activities that provide deeper meaning in your life. Lift your sights away from material possessions, and from simply repeating the same daily motions. You could try:
- Pausing each night to reflect on what you are grateful for in the day or writing down three things in a journal. We do this at our dinner table each night, sharing with each other and hopefully serving as a reminder to our children about not taking things for granted.
- Savouring moments in the day. Pausing to ensure you are really present in the current moment. This can be any time during the day but it can be especially beneficial while doing a routine daily task, such as eating your lunch. Simply give all your attention to what you are doing and try to take in all the senses. If you are eating your lunch, take time to notice the texture of the food in your mouth, the flavours, the smells etc. It's likely to increase the pleasure you feel in that moment and also give your busy mind a rest for a few minutes.
- Book in time to be with loved ones. Don't take their love for granted, invest in it and appreciate the warmth and goodness it brings to you. Tell them that you love them and what you value about them.
2. NEVER SPEAK BADLY ABOUT YOURSELF
Don't think or say bad things about yourself. If you notice your inner voice being critical, then gently guide that talk to something much more constructive and helpful. For example, if you made a mistake at work and notice your inner critic beating you up with words like, "you're such a loser, how did you get that wrong?" - you could gently catch that thinking and change it to something more helpful like, "this is an opportunity to grow and learn that I will embrace."
The same applies to saying out loud to others what is wrong with you. If you regularly announce to people bad judgements about yourself, such as, "I'm such an idiot, I always lock my keys in the car", how do you expect that to make feel? Using berating language to yourself rarely changes the outcome; it only serves to make you feel worse. Try something more constructive like, "My mind must have been elsewhere when I got out of the car, I’ll pay more attention next time."
3. NEVER SPEAK BADLY ABOUT OTHERS
Living on gossip and discussing others behind their back rarely brings joy to our lives. Pointing out other people's faults or problems does not actually elevate your importance. Greater happiness and wellbeing comes from within ourselves when we show compassion, care, forgiveness and love. I encourage you to try going for a day without pointing out something that you see as wrong in someone else, and look at them through more compassionate eyes and notice how this impacts your mood.
4. IF YOU KNOW IT'S WRONG, DON'T DO IT!
This might seem pretty basic, yet it's very true. How many times do you ignore that deep inner truth that what you're doing is wrong? When we ignore this, we are generally doing something in conflict with our values. Our own core values guide us to make decisions that are congruent with who we really are. This brings us peace in our life (it doesn't always mean it's easy but it will feel right). If you are doing something that is outright wrong or at odds with your values this is detrimental to your wellbeing and happiness and draining on your energy levels.
5. DON'T BE A PEOPLE PLEASER
People pleasing is toxic for your self-esteem. There is only one 'you' in this world and if you spend your life trying to please others by behaving how they want you to, then you'll deny the world ever seeing the real you. You're a very special and unique individual, own that and shine it on the world. If some people don't like the real you, then they weren't really your friends anyway. Being loved and valued for who you really are, not what someone else wants you to be, is a very gratifying feeling.
6. BE KIND TO YOURSELF
You would have heard all these things many times before, but for good reason, they work - eat well, exercise regularly, meditate. These simple acts show great kindness to yourself so that you can be at your best physically and mentally. Put great nutrients into your body and get it moving - simple stuff - big benefits.
7. DON'T ASSUME - LOOK FOR THE BIGGER PICTURE IN DIFFICULT SITUATIONS
Life won't always be easy and fun but you can help to minimise the amount of pain that you feel during difficult situations. Instead of being very narrow in your view of a difficult situation (usually about how aggrieved you are), look at the bigger context of the situation. We often assume what someone else was thinking or trying to do to us. Sometimes this might be right but often it's not - and anyway it's irrelevant! For example, you are driving along and a car pulls out in front of you and you have to slam on the brakes. You could get uptight and angry, plant your hand on the horn and yell out at them for being arrogant and thinking that they own the road. Or you could notice your first automatic thought and then challenge it (before it takes hold) by asking yourself if you know for certain that is an arrogant person who intentionally cut you off. How do you know that they don't have their child lying across the back seat bleeding because they just tripped and fell through a window, and their Dad is rushing them to hospital? I know, not very likely, but you actually don't know. Rather than assuming the worst, consider what else might be - it diffuses the negative feelings.
8. FORGIVE THOSE WHO HAVE WRONGED YOU
This is absolutely NOT about saying what happened to you was OK. You can still acknowledge that the situation was unfair but choose to forgive that it happened and move on. Holding onto the anger only impacts negatively on your life, not your perpetrator’s life. If they've already hurt you, remaining angry only continues that pain. Forgiving frees you to move on and releases you of those negative emotions.
I wish you every success in choosing to nurture yourself. It's not a selfish act; it's a very powerful act which not only benefits you but also all those around you.