Extreme Self Care
Improving your resilience when life gets tough. Women are usually the care-givers and taking the time to care for ourselves often comes way down the priority list. Extreme self-care is a phrase I like as it adds an emphasis to ‘looking after me.’ I have come to realise this is so important generally, but especially at times of change, difficulty or stress. In 2017 I experienced three major changes: my stepfather died, I gave up drinking alcohol and we took on a rescue dog. I also learnt about extreme self-care and I think it helped me balance what felt like a maelstrom of emotions.
Extreme self-care is an investment in yourself. It will undoubtedly help you through difficult times but it will also help build your resilience for when life throws the next punch. What moved me beyond that typical thinking of ‘am I being selfish spending this time on me?’ was the rationale behind self-care. If you don’t look after yourself, take time to heal and invest in your own well-being, you will not be able to look after and care for others. So I see it as an investment, for today and for the future.
Below are my three key focus areas for extreme self-care – you might think these are not very ‘extreme’ and if you are doing them all, good for you! For me combining all these elements and doing them every day without fail was extreme!
1. Sleep self-care
We all know that sleep is the time when our physical and mental selves heal. However, sleep is often elusive when we are worried, over-wrought and have a lot going on in our lives. I began to develop ‘pre-sleep’ rituals which would trigger my brain into ‘knowing’ it was soon time to shut down, much like the way I got my young children into night-time routines many years ago.
These routines included:
- a night-time herbal tea (no later than) 8pm
- no screens (phone, ipad etc.) after 8.30pm
- a face wash and teeth clean (early so I wasn’t too tired to bother)
- a 10 minute guided meditation (I like the daily calm meditations)
- a diffuser with a calming oil like lavender
- black out blinds
- comfortable sleep wear, and
- good pillows.
2. Food self-care
Thinking about how you feed yourself when investing in extreme self-care is important both mentally and physically. I find soup nourishing and quite therapeutic to make, chopping, stirring and being creative about ingredients. My freezer is full of it, making it handy and quick when you don’t have time to cook. Look up foods that are known for their healing properties for example turmeric, garlic and avocado. (Pinterest is a great source for ideas and recipes) As well as eating as healthily as you can, make sure you also give yourself treats too. Ice cream and chocolate featured heavily for me once I was no longer consuming wine!
3. Exercise self-care
Getting outside and moving your body. Research suggests that just 20 minutes a day outdoors is good for our mental health, combine this with physical movement and you are also helping your heart and investing in your ‘wellness bank’. Interval walking, where you walk as fast as you can for four minutes, then walk normally for four and repeat over 20 minutes can make you feel better in a short space of time. Don’t forget to stretch at the end. If you haven’t done any exercise for a while start with just 10 minutes and build up over time to an hour. Of course you could also get a dog, that way going out becomes compulsory!