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Keep Calm and Practice Self Care

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“I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self-indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival.” Audre Lorde

In the past week, I have experienced self care in two very different ways, and it made me realise that what you need to do in order to look after yourself really depends on what else is going on in your life.

Last weekend I attended a full day workshop devoted to self care and expression. This was the first time I have invested in something like this, and it did not disappoint. It was a wonderful day filled with like minded women experiencing beautiful organic food, yoga, meditation, journalling, not to mention some some hilarious and liberating free form dancing. I even enjoyed getting the pencils out and making some patterns, which is saying something for a self avowed colouring in unenthusiast like me! I walked away from the day feeling I had truly filled up my cup, which was just as well because by the next day…

Two out of three kids were home sick from school and I was struck down by a nasty virus

Suddenly, self care turned from an indulgence into survival, and the reality looked a whole lot less pretty than a restorative yoga pose and a neatly coloured in mandala. It made me realise a few home truths about self care, that I thought I would share with you.

 

  • Self care does not have to be Instagram worthy. If I had taken a selfie of what I looked like last week, holed up in bed with a blocked head and hacking cough: well, let’s just say that no amount of exotically named filters would have made me look good, but then neither did I have to. Rest was what I needed, and rest was what I gave myself (as much as was humanly possible when I had sick kids as well).
  • Recognising what was essential and what could be put off, helped take the stress off me. Were you devastated that I didn’t post a blog post last week? No? Good, I didn’t think so, yet we can put so much pressure on ourselves when we work for ourselves that if we ‘disappear’ people will be disappointed. My clients understood that I needed to reschedule, and making a conscious decision not to worry about my blog, took a load off my mind, and put my focus where it needed to be: with my unwell family.
  • Self care is sometimes as simple as lying on the couch with your daughter and watching Anne of Green Gables on DVD. Bliss.
  • Self care can be a beautiful teapot filled with an exotic herbal infusion or it can be a mug with an English Breakfast teabag in it, either works well for me.
  • A beautifully cooked nutritious meal can be a form of self care, but for me if I have to cook it, then it is a self chore in my book. When I am sick, my form of self care comes in the form of toasted cheese sandwiches (with added gluten, dairy, and comfort a plenty).
  • An epsom salt bath with candles and mood music is touted by most as next level self care, however in my experience this is often next level nightmare. If my daughters get a whiff of me near a bathtub, they immediately want to join me, making bath time a game of slippery sardines. So yes, sometimes a hot solo shower suffices as self care in my book.
  • Self care can often mean surrender. Accepting things as they are in the here and now, and getting through the day as best as you possiblly can.  If that means cooking scrambled eggs for dinner, and not caring about the 30 loads of laundry randomly piled around your bedroom* then so be it!

So there you have it, self care two ways, or as I like to think of it: the ideal vs reality. While we should all aim to give ourselves a special day full of self love and expression every now and then, sometimes a DVD, a toastie, and a nana nap are all I need to look after myself! #nohastagorfilterrequired

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*Well I do care actually, but no one else in my house seems to get the elusive concept of laundry. In fact for Mother’s day this year I received a Super Hero poster from my 6 year old daughter. My superhero power? Washing Power! Yes my darling daughter actually wrote “My mum is a superhero because she cleans the washing really fast”, and drew a picture of me with a cape and ‘Washing Power’ on my chest. I am strongly thinking of swapping this superhero cape for one of invisibility instead!

What are your thoughts on self care? Do you regularly take time out for yourself, or is this one  of those things you mean to get around to, but simply never do? I’d love to hear from you below.

23 Comments on Keep Calm and Practice Self Care

  1. Naomi Arnold
    June 24, 2015 at 10:20 am (2 years ago)

    Yes, yes, yes!!!! Starts to cheer followed by a slow clap.

    Love this post, and totally agree.

    I have just said a similar thing to a client of mine this week – she has a self care goal and is unfortunately experiencing cancer. I reminder her that we often need to reinterpret our definition of self care… and remember the role that context can play in it also.

    At the end of the day self care is well…. taking care of the self… and this can mean very different things to each person and their unique needs…. and to each day or week as our lives and needs shift and change…

    Thank you so much for this post. Off to share it now. Love it so much!

    x

    Reply
    • Melissa Jeffcott
      June 24, 2015 at 9:51 pm (2 years ago)

      Thanks so much for your comment Naomi, and thanks for sharing as well. I think it can be very easy to get caught up in the ideal world of self care. Sometimes the simple things are the best x

      Reply
  2. Ainslie Young
    June 24, 2015 at 10:42 am (2 years ago)

    I love this post Melissa! So very entertaining and humorous yet you simply show us the difference between the ideal and the reality of self-care. I’m only just starting out on my self-care adventure and knowing that surrender is a huge part of the process is re-assuring. Similar to you, cooking isn’t really my thing so I love the idea of eggs on toast for dinner!
    Ainslie x

    Reply
    • Melissa Jeffcott
      June 24, 2015 at 9:47 pm (2 years ago)

      Thanks Ainslie, yes you really need to to do what feels right for you in order to look after yourself: if it is a chore it usually isn’t self care!

      Reply
  3. Heidi
    June 24, 2015 at 5:34 pm (2 years ago)

    Great post! I’d looooove a hot bath right now but yr slippery sardine scenario sounds very familiar. Instead I’m standing in my laundry – it’s a place nobody enters – so I’m safe for 3.5 minutes. My angels/Devils do not enter the laundry, they throw everything at it. Anyways, I’m enjoying a late coffee, some Brie on crackers and a catch up on the news- in the privacy and quietness of my laundry. A few minutes away from the daily grind to recharge for the drudgery of cooking. Yes, this is my true reality of survival self care! Not ideal but I’ll take it.

    Reply
    • Melissa Jeffcott
      June 24, 2015 at 9:45 pm (2 years ago)

      I love it Heidi, the laundry is a perfect place to escape to: no one will ever find you in there! 🙂

      Reply
  4. Katherine - The Beauty Of Life
    June 27, 2015 at 11:04 am (2 years ago)

    SO agree, Mel! Self care is absolutely what works for you + what you need, as opposed to what looks good or what everyone else is doing!

    Reply
    • Melissa Jeffcott
      June 27, 2015 at 2:04 pm (2 years ago)

      Very true Katherine, it is easy sometimes to get caught up on what looks good on social media instead of what simply feels good, x.

      Reply
  5. jess
    June 27, 2015 at 2:59 pm (2 years ago)

    Love this post, and you definitely summed up the different type of self care for different people. When I’m sick, self care is mashed potatoes, netflix, couch, naps. When I am well but just tired/stressed, self care is pilates, cooking, massage etc.

    Reply
    • Melissa Jeffcott
      June 27, 2015 at 7:33 pm (2 years ago)

      Thanks Jess, all your self care ideas sound good to me! 🙂

      Reply
  6. Emma @ Life, kids and a glass of red
    June 27, 2015 at 9:51 pm (2 years ago)

    Totally agree on toasted cheese sandwiches when I’m sick, often with plain crisps too for that hit of salt too 🙂 Self care here also involves eggs on toast for dinner or a ‘surprise’ freezer dinner i.e. use up lunch portions of whatever I had stashed for husband’s lunches. A pyjama day never hurts anyone 🙂

    Reply
    • Melissa Jeffcott
      June 28, 2015 at 2:51 pm (2 years ago)

      I just had a pyjama day yesterday with my kids Emma: it was sooo good! 🙂

      Reply
  7. Shannon@ my2morrows
    June 27, 2015 at 10:38 pm (2 years ago)

    Oh it’s been years since I had a hot bath! I really must try and do that soon. What a contrast your week was! Self care for me is a cuppa tea, or if I’m really lucky a pot of loose leaf and my Friday non negotiable yoga class. If I can get that in every week, I’m one happy little Vegemite! Xx

    Reply
    • Melissa Jeffcott
      June 28, 2015 at 2:52 pm (2 years ago)

      Always good to have a non-negotiable self care item in your week Shannon, x

      Reply
  8. Kelly Exeter
    June 28, 2015 at 4:43 pm (2 years ago)

    So much YES here Melissa! From the fact that self-care is not self-indulgent right through to the fact that self-care is also often not at all Instagram-worthy! And that, sometimes, the best form of self-care is simply letting certain things slide for a day or two! I was a bit sick yesterday so had to let the house slide all around me. But gee I am better today for having done that!

    Reply
    • Melissa Jeffcott
      June 28, 2015 at 10:36 pm (2 years ago)

      I’m glad you resonate Kelly. Yes, letting the house slide can be a form of self care (if only there was a magic cleaning fairy to fix it all up again!) 😉

      Reply
  9. Sonia Life Love Hiccups
    June 28, 2015 at 9:38 pm (2 years ago)

    Yes yes and yes Melissa – I love this post. Self care is so important and to me it can be as simple as A PJ day. Absolute bliss. Hope you have had a wonderful weekend xx

    Reply
    • Melissa Jeffcott
      June 28, 2015 at 10:37 pm (2 years ago)

      Thanks Sonia, after the sound of the week you had, I’d say some serious self care is in order for you, x

      Reply
  10. Karin @ Calm to Conniption
    June 29, 2015 at 10:30 am (2 years ago)

    I love this post. Great pointers on where to take time for yourself too. I completely get the bath time sardine trick too. My 3 year old just comes in and starts taking his clothes off to join me. We have a very small bath so usually that is my queue to jump out.

    Reply
    • Melissa Jeffcott
      June 29, 2015 at 2:47 pm (2 years ago)

      Thanks Karin, yes if I want a bath by myself I have to be super secretive (or wait until 10.00 at night!)

      Reply
    • Melissa Jeffcott
      June 29, 2015 at 2:48 pm (2 years ago)

      You should do that Malinda, any form of self care is good in my book! 🙂

      Reply
  11. Marina
    June 30, 2015 at 9:13 am (2 years ago)

    Both of those (minus the virus) sound heavenly to me. Question: Do you ever engage in that simple form of self-care just for its own sake? For women, it seems like it often takes a major event (3 at home sick definitely qualifies) for us to take the time for some routine at-home self-care. Are you planning on making this a regular routine outside of sickness? It took me almost two years of being at home with my kids, and a near-breakdown due to overwhelm, to finally realize that I needed to make self-care (beyond seeing my therapist) a regular routine. I now meditate and journal in the morning and evening. And read a book in the morning while my kids eat breakfast and watch their morning show. Best routine I’ve ever started. Thanks for a great post! =)

    Reply

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