3 Commonly Overlooked Ways to Practice Self-Care

3 Commonly Overlooked Ways to Practice Self-Care

There is countless self-care advise present on the internet these days. Whenever we search for ideas or inspiration in order to care for ourselves, or when we feel especially overwhelmed, we find similar lists of activities or things to consider:

  • Taking time off work and/or to be alone
  • Creating a cosy environment for ourselves at home
  • Engage the senses (relaxing scents, good food, music, etc.)
  • Care for our bodies (movement and nutrition)
  • Get enough sleep

All of these strategies and action to take are obviously good and there’s nothing bad to say about them. However, since they are so ubiquitous and we can sometimes find ourselves practicing them over and over again without truly feeling deeply cared for and satisfied, I’d like to make some space here to talk about self-care differently.

Another way of seeing self-care is as a way of life, established long-term and aiming to care for our deeper selves, to align our lives to our needs and values, in order to feel more at peace and fulfilled. Considering this, here are 3 long-term strategies to help us lead happier lives and take care of ourselves truly.

 

Connecting to peace and calm

Perhaps this is what first comes to mind and what we connect to the most when we think about self-care. Relaxing activities to bring calm and peace into our lives, such as time off, baths, scented candles, skin care, relaxing music, etc.

ways to self-care

a life aligned with yourself

While there’s nothing wrong with these activities if we enjoy them, I’d like to focus today on what is sometimes called inner peace. I am referring to moments, connections or activities that help us regain inner balance, emotional regulation, and, more deeply, remember we have agency to try and live lives that are as aligned with our values and our principles as possible.

Living lives that are meaningful to us personally might perhaps be the most fulfilling and deeply peaceful thing we can do for ourselves. And this doesn’t have to mean changing everything overnight. This can start by something as simple as recognising the positive impact we might be having through our work, or in other people’s lives in different social circles. It can also start by simple activities to reconnect with what’s most important to us, whether that is nurturing relationships, creating something (crafts or arts), volunteering or making space to focus on our spirituality.

Helpful questions to ponder: What places, activities, moments, or circles allow us to feel peaceful inside? In what ways are we trying to lead our lives in ways that bring peace or fulfilment to our inner selves?

 

Connecting to joy, to life, and to our potential

What about what nourishes our inner beings and our bodies? Perspectives, activities or connections that leave us wanting more of life? Things we look forward to with excitement, and at times perhaps anticipation? What helps us feel like we have achieved something (however small) and what brings confidence?

That’s what I mean when I speak of connection to life or grounding into life. One example can be the feeling we get when we learn more about something that we feel passionate about. Or when we achieve something new or different in a craft or a hobby of ours. We then can’t wait to try again, to learn more. And there might be some anxious anticipation too. What if I take on a challenge and fail? There is much to be said for experiencing setbacks and learning to be gentle with ourselves in the process, before trying again.

To each of us, there will be something different and distinct that will help us feel this connection to joy, to confidence, to life. It can be part of our work or related to it, but it can also be something completely detached from a job. In fact, there is good reason to keep it disconnected from our work lives in order to make it something we can experience only for enjoyment and not to “be productive”.

There is a caveat with this one though: we need to be careful with perfectionism and self-criticism. Accepting our setbacks is also part of learning self-care, but it might be difficult not to enter a mental space of permanent challenge for ourselves, constantly setting the bar too high and feeling bad about ourselves when we don’t reach it. If this is something we usually do, I would suggest to practice these activities as slowly and gently as possible.

 

Community care as self-care

ways to self-care

Community care

Finally, this might be an uncomfortable truth for some of us, but we are not made to live in isolation, to be completely independent materially and emotionally. We evolved and survived in community and have created complex systems and interdependencies.

I’d like to invite everyone to reflect on care from a collective perspective. Support networks, people and groups you may feel connected to in different ways and that provide support for you, and of whom you also want to be supportive. Profound satisfaction and connection with life can be derived from the acts of giving and receiving.

This is of course, not easy to achieve for many of us. Past wounds and unhelpful beliefs or relational patterns may be affecting the way we relate to others or the way we let others support us. Profound growth and fulfilment can come from working on these patterns and barriers. Ultimately, we are challenged, nurtured and we experience growth in relationship. By developing our capacity for different kinds of intimacy without dependency, for vulnerability, for connection with healthy boundaries and accountability, we can care for our communities. This will, in turn, provide a powerful source of care for us and for others.

 

As a counsellor, I am here to help. If you are looking into making changes towards improved self-care, and discovering what a meaningful and fulfilling life would look like for you, Contact me to discuss how I can support you.

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