pink love heart on pink background being given by stone figure to another stone figure to represent self-care

What is self-care and why should I do it?

I've realised that it's become easy for me to forget to look after myself.

When I first stopped drinking, I put a lot of effort into self-care. I knew that I needed to stay as strong and resilient as possible and that meant looking after my mind and body as well as I could. 

But the longer and more confidently I live life sober, the less time I need to spend working on it. Now that drinking is no longer an issue, I've kinda stopped worrying about nurturing and caring for myself as I'm throwing myself into living the life I want. It seems like less of an urgent need to spend time looking after me the further away I get from my drinking days.

So, I end up not doing all those things I know will benefit me. Because I don’t need to do them anymore, I’ve neglected them. But this is a mistake. The reality is, if I continued looking after me, doing all the things that are nurturing and good for me, I would be taking my life and my well-being to the next level. 

Looking after your own needs and keeping your own battery charged isn't just desirable, it's essential. You can be a better parent, a better sibling, a better colleague, a better friend when you're topped up with energy and self-love. You radiate that outwards and give it to others. How we feel about ourselves kind of ripples out to other people too. Have you ever been around someone and ended up absorbing their stress, their misery, their needs? Better to be the person radiating contentment, energy and calm or the person that attracts people rather than pushing them away.

You can build a healthy and loving relationship with yourself by proactively caring for yourself. Self-care is more important than anything else. Some people think it's “selfish” or “self-centred” to look after their own needs first, to put themselves first, and that's understandable as that's how a lot of us have been conditioned. But, when you put on your own oxygen mask before you see to the child or loved one you're caring for, you give yourself the strength to care for them better. If you were a battery, you'd need to be fully-charged before you could sustainably charge someone else.

It all starts with the kind of self-care that shows your unconscious mind that you're worth caring about.

This image shows 12 simple actions you can take every day to develop a self-care habit.

It provides a neat visual picture of some of the things we could be doing every day to nurture and care for ourselves - to make ourselves stronger and more resilient. And, of course, we can all add to this list with things we know that are particular to us - for example for one person it might be knitting, for another, walking the dog. If you're learning a new habit, like living life sober, self-care is essential to keeping your strength, motivation and resilience levels topped up.

When I saw this image this morning, I decided to do something with it. I’m going to look at it each morning and spend 10 minutes planning how to incorporate some of these 12 actions into my day.

So, today, before I'd even looked at it, I'd already started drinking the water, I'd already done the work out… some of these I'd do anyway without thinking. But, after looking at the images, I realised how many of them I'd been neglecting and that I need to remind myself and plan ahead to make sure I'm incorporating them into my daily routine. Leaving myself to wing it doesn't work.

Today I needed to plan doing some conscious breathing (or mindfulness). And, also, how I was going to make time for "meaningful connections" and talk to friends and family. I know that I can plan all this and incorporate it into my day in easy ways and all of it together won't take more than 20-30 minutes. 

But without the planning, it won't happen.

I like this visual reminder and I know it will benefit with me and I want to share it with you too. Let me know what you think. What one or two things suggested here could you plan into the coming day?


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