Updated: Sep 12, 2019
"I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self-indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival." Audre Lorde.
Stop The Guilt.
Why do so many of us experience feelings of shame when we need to take time out for ourselves from our daily routines?
Well unfortunately, despite all the available medical evidence advocating the benefits of self-care it’s still not uncommon for a great number of people to dismiss it as self-indulgent, or worse still, as symptomatic of narcissism rather than a necessary step towards self-preservation.
Day in, day out we're there, busily organising our time to meet life's demands. Whether it's building a career, balancing finances, nurturing relationships, looking after children, or caring for ageing parents, it seems that in every corner of our world there's something or someone somewhere crying out for our time and attention. It's little wonder then, given our pressurised and frenzied life-styles, that we can sometimes feel unable to justify taking "me time." Perhaps, what's more surprising, is that some of us are so wrapped up in meeting our daily deadlines we've forgotten, or simply have no idea where or how to start.
So with these points in mind, in this, the second part of our series on self-care, we're sharing some more of our favourite tried and tested ways to look after you in the hope that you'll benefit and grow to appreciate them as much as we do!
Mindful Walking - Baby Steps To A Healthier You.
"The mind can go in a thousand directions, but on this beautiful path, I walk in peace. With each step, the wind blows. With each step, a flower blooms." Thich Nhat Hanh.
Walking has always been one of my favourite strategies to de-stress and unwind. Even as a child I loved setting off on a country walk excited to discover and take in the beauty of my surroundings. When time and funds are limited it's reassuring to know that even today there's still a free way to look after ourselves.
So what is mindful walking? Well, in a nutshell, it involves retraining your focus through the act of redirecting your mind away from thoughts about the future and the past, instead keeping it in the present. The theory being that by staying mentally tuned into the activity we're doing in the here and now and filtering out any other distractions, we rest our minds. An additional benefit of course, is that this helps to build up stores of resilience to manage the day to day running of our lives.
However, like most things this is easier said than done. Mindful walking takes perseverance to master. It requires one to practice seeing rather than simply looking and listening as opposed to merely hearing. As you walk and become more in tune with your body‘s responses you will learn to be more conscious of your breathing, noticing and familiarising yourself with changes in rhythm. As this starts to feel more natural it will also become a habit to take in the sounds, smells and textures of nature, thereby helping you to fully appreciate the beauty of the changing seasons.
Take A Retreat - Pause, Breathe and Reset.
"Nowhere can man find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than his own soul." Marcus Aurelius.
Gone are the days when retreats were considered a luxury, based in impossibly exotic locations accessible to only the rich and famous. In fact, in a bid to escape and recover from the frenetic madness that's become our world, an increasing number of Westerners are seeking physical, psychological or spiritual intermission or healing. Retreats now come in a variety of types, aimed at all levels/individual needs, and can be taken alone or in a community. Whether you're an artist, a business person, an overworked mum or simply needing headspace, you can discover the perfect fit.
If the prospect of being too far away from electronic devices, friends, family and commitments appears a little overwhelming, then retreats are available in different lengths and can be found in a wide range of locations. The experiences can include luxury pampering treatments, detox diets, nourishing food, mindfulness, restorative meditation, massage and walks, there are so many options to choose from! Just enter your keyword, hit google search and you can expect to find havens with a wealth of different activities geared towards long term personal development. What most have in common is that they're designed to provide a sanctuary away from daily life and help one embark on a journey of self discovery that will last long after the retreat has ended.
Quiet Time - Embrace The Sound Of Silence.
"Solitude is where I place my chaos to rest and awaken my inner peace." Nikki Rowe.
Punishing workloads can often make the very idea of taking time out for your lunch break seem almost laughable. However, the benefits of stepping outside for a few moments during the working day can be numerous. Firstly, it allows us to top up on vitamin D, which according to experts at Healthline.com "Vitamin D deficiency is very common. It's estimated that about 1 billion people worldwide have low levels..." Symptoms of a deficiency can range from fatigue, lower back pain, delicate bones, slow healing of wounds and depression, to name but a few. As a preventative measure or if you've already been diagnosed as lacking in this vitamin, getting outside whenever and wherever possible during the day (at least 10-30 minutes around midday) can help to boost levels. In addition, in a study of their employees conducted by Bristol University, it was revealed that those people who take regular walks or exercised "returned to the job with a 41 percent increase in their motivation, and a 21 percent uptick in their concentration." If this still hasn't convinced you, experts have also linked spending time outdoors to lowering anxiety levels and heart rate, thereby, in some recorded cases, improving defence against heart attacks and strokes.
Start Today - Restore Equilibrium.
If you've ever felt like a stranger to yourself or a visitor in your own life story, then chances are it's time to pause, recharge and take back control. Self-care can be carried out by taking small steps each day, and in part 3 of our series we'll be bringing you further great ideas about how to prioritise and maximise your approach. In the meantime, should you have any tips that you'd like to share, simply comment below, we'd love to hear from you!
*Please note, this post is based entirely on the writer's own experience and is intended to support and motivate those who have found themselves in a similar position.
If however, you are experiencing pro-longed periods of stress or any of the symptoms mentioned above, please consult a professional prior to embarking on the activities described in our self-care program.
**Disclaimer: No monies, gifting or promotion has been received from any third party in return for products included in the above post.
For further information about " Handpicked, tried and tested luxury wellbeing retreats." Discover: iamcharliwall.com
"Combining my years of experience in helping women with their physical and mental wellbeing, together with a love for yoga, fitness, sunshine, sea, nutrition and pampering." Charli Wall, Health Coach.