NINE: Self-Care: The Art of Being Unapologetically Selfish

Bless, someone cares about me!

Me, receiving “anonymous” gifts (from myself)

Isn’t it a great feeling doing something special for someone you love? Taking your Ma out for lunch, making your spouse dinner, doing that little bit extra work around the house to make life a little more manageable for your housemates. They’re all great, you can display an unspoken appreciation for the influence they have on your life, and it leaves you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside when you see how grateful they are for those little extra efforts.

So if doing things to make others makes us feel so good, why don’t we ever do these things for ourselves?

Given the current circumstances with COVID-19, it’s more important than ever than we are in tune with ourselves, trusting our gut, and listening to our needs. All of these are important when it comes to self-care. We’re all guilty of neglecting our own needs as we go about our daily lives, but it’s time to stop ignoring it. In a time of uncertainty, when some of us are unable to go about our routine without interruption, you gotta start doing you, boo.

During the initial phases of COVID-19, when there was still very little known about what the disease was and how to prevent it (not that I have any clue now…oops), I was stuck in the house by myself in a foreign country where I could count the number of people I knew on one hand. I found it really tough, and it tested my mental fortitude, because clearly moving to the other side of the world wasn’t already taxing. What got me through was prioritising self-care in any way I could, by keeping regular contact with friends and family, exercising where I could, reading books and listening to music. I listened to myself, identified what I needed and did all I could to fulfil those needs. While times are tough, there is still so much more we can learn, and there is no better time than now to start working on our relationship with ourselves. Face it, we can’t break up with ourselves, it’s a 24/7, 365 day a year commitment for your whole life, you may as well nurture the relationship.

So, for those who have left self-care on the top shelf collecting dust with your childhood toys (which are never dusty, it’s almost like my space ranger is alive or something…nah, that can’t be right), there are a few things I consider when I’m overdue a little time for reflection. It won’t be the same for everyone, but I hope you can take something out of it and make it your own. So here are my self-care priorities;

Setting Time Aside for Myself – if I’ve had a busy week, whether it be with work or extra-curricular, and I’ve not made time for myself, it’s important for me that I set routine times for myself. As a shift worker with a constantly changing roster, for me its about setting a day where I dedicate my free time to me and my mental health. For me, it’s Monday (because, as we all know, it’s Mental Health Monday).

Being as Comfortable as Possible – Self-care to me means removing any of life’s stresses or negative stimulus, even if it’s only temporary, so I can unwind. It’s about being as physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually comfortable as I can possibly be. Some days, it’s putting a Bastille album on and laying on the couch writing, others it’s a session on the PlayStation, sometimes it’s as simple as turning my phone off, taking a book outside and going for a swim. There’s no right or wrong, it’s about listening to what would make us most at peace right now.

Hitting the Reset Button – Ideally, when I put some time aside for me, it’s an opportunity to flush out any lingering negative emotions and clean the slate for a new week. It doesn’t matter how I go about this, sometimes I might have a little cry (because boys can cry too, REMEMBER?), sometimes I’ll journal my current emotions, acknowledge them, reflect on them and allow myself to let them go.

Making The Week Easier for Future Tim –  When he has the chance, Monday Tim does all he can to ensure that Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday Tim has less to worry about. In times when I’ve got the day off, it’s a great chance to put some music on, give the house a tidy,  throw some washing on and cook some meals for the week. Yes, I’m talking about chores. But if I’m in the midst of a busy shift, nothing makes me happier than the ease of being able to heat up some pre-prepared food so I can actually take a break on my break (funny that). Not to mention, taking the time to prepare food in advance prevents me from ordering take out, as it’s more convenient to opt for the healthier option already in my fridge. As any nutritionist (literally dropping this because my nutritionist pal would get a kick out of this) will tell you, cleaner food means cleaner energy. A less lethargic Tim is a happy Tim.

The beauty in self-care is that it comes in a great many forms, shapes and sizes. It differs from one person to the next, because at the end of the day, no two people are the same. Your self-care routine comes down to…yep, you guessed it, yourself. The even more beautifuller (great word, right?) thing about self-care is that you make your own rules, so if you want to change any or all of the things you used to do, ain’t nobody going to disagree with you.

Alright kids, it’s Mental Health Monday, and the Mental Health Messiah bequeath unto you the task of doing something for you today. Self-care, much like any journey, requires that first, small step forward. Not that I will be mad if you don’t take that first step today, but I would be very disappointed. Offt, that stings, doesn’t it?

So go ahead and take it, in whatever form you need to, and feel free to share it with me in the comments below! Happy Monday!

Instead of worrying about what you cannot control, shift your energy to what you can create

Roy T. Bennett

Mental Health

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