Do you ever forget to take care of yourself?
Practising self care is crucial for everyone, but more so if you live with chronic and/or mental illness. Finding time to look after you and nourish your body and mind is important and doing so regularly will hopefully help you to manage any physical or mental health conditions. Scheduling even one or two evenings a week where you do some of these activities will help.
So, here are some simple things you can do to practise self care.
- Keep a list of accomplishments for each day, to help you reflect on what you should feel proud of. If getting out of bed was difficult, this is even an accomplishment. Sometimes we can get bogged down in what we haven’t managed to get done that day, but we should be focusing on what we did do, as well.
- Tidy, clean out or reorganise a draw, cupboard, space etc. Getting something organised can feel therapeutic and it could be something small like a draw in your desk, the clothes in your wardrobe or your whole spare room at home. Just take your time and don’t over do it. You should feel accomplished and a sense of control after finishing.
- Schedule in a regular phone call with a friend or family member for a catch up and just chat about whatever comes to mind. A weekly half hour phone conversation with a friend can help combat feelings of loneliness and stress, and in our busy world, it can sometimes feel difficult to keep up with and in touch with those we love. Making it part of your routine can help this and you should find you’ll start to look forward to it.
- Go for a walk in a park. If you can’t physically walk too far, find a spot to sit and watch your surroundings. Listen to the sounds and look closely at the details around you. The way the breeze feels on your skin and how sunlight penetrates through the trees. Take a blanket to sit/lie on and possibly a book.
- Read a book. Reading is well known to be relaxing and an escape from reality.
- Take a bath. I do love a good bubble bath but I also like an Epsom salt bath to help me relax and recharge. Lighting some candles and putting on some relaxing music whilst you relax should help, too.
- Fix a small annoyance at home that’s been bugging you, such as a missing button, a broken door handle, a light bulb that’s gone, a picture that needs hanging etc.
- Try meditation. It can help you feel back in touch with yourself and ease stress.
- Try acupuncture. It has been reported to help with pain and stress.
- Unplug yourself for an hour or even a day. Switch off from phones, computers, the TV, social media etc.
- Whilst we’re on about social media, edit your feeds on Facebook and Instagram for example and take out any negative people or sources. If you don’t want to unfriend, unfollow or delete them, you also have the option to hide their posts from showing up on your feed.
- Also look at removing any negative people or energy stealers from your life, too. Life is too short to have people who bring you down in your life. They’re not good for your mental or physical health and even if they’re family, you shouldn’t feel bad about removing them from your life or limiting contact for your health and well-being.
- Try a massage. You could go to a masseuse, ask your other half to give you a leg or back massage or even have a go on yourself. YouTube has helpful videos on giving hand, neck, head, leg and feet massages which you could do yourself. They can be super destressing, help you get ready for sleep and feel rejuvenated.
- Listen to music. I truly believe that there’s not much listening to music can’t help. A good sing or even boogie can raise feel good chemical levels and raise spirits. Make a playlist of songs that make you feel motivated and give positive vibes and play it when you’re feeling particularly low, stressed out or in need of some good songs.
- Give yoga a go. Just like acupuncture and meditation, it can be good for stress levels and can even be practised in the comfort of your own home. YouTube has helpful videos.
- Try cooking a new meal. Something healthy and wholesome. Pick up a cookbook or look up some online. It’s important to give your body what it needs and eat well. Take some time to prepare something your body will thank you for.
- Find something that makes you laugh. A comic series, your favourite TV show or even some old photos and memories. Laughing is a very powerful mechanism.
- Animals and pets are proven to lower stress levels. If you don’t have a pet, maybe visit a friend or family member who does, more often and see if it helps. Offer to look after their pets for them. You could also visit a zoo, sanctuary, rescue centre, cat cafe etc. (Yes, cat cafes do exist!)
- Give a TV show or film you’ve never seen a go and see if you discover something new you love.
- Do something crafty. Make a card for an upcoming friend’s birthday, create a pin board or positivity board, try knitting or even making a sock monkey. There are countless arty ideas you could try and there’s bound to be something for everyone. Visit a hobby/craft store for inspiration.
- Hang out with friends. Maintaining a good social life can help a lot mentally. Go for coffee, a sit in the park or watch some Netflix together and spend time with someone else.
- Light a candle, some essential oils or other fragrances and relax.
- Write your thoughts and feelings down. Whether it’s with good old fashioned pen and paper, your phone or laptop, write out how you’re feeling and any thoughts you have at that moment in time. Create a mind-map of all your worries and stressors and take them one by one.
- Write down compliments. When someone says something nice about you, write it down and put it in a notebook or even a jar. Read them back to yourself on low days.
- Have a duvet day. Grab your duvet, some snacks and drinks and snuggle in to the sofa with books, DVD’s and a cuddly toy or your other half.
- Consider support. If you’re struggling with your mental health and wellbeing, you could consider whether you’d benefit from help such as counselling or therapy. There are many options and services out there, but often most convenient for chronic illness patients is online therapy and help. Better Help are one service offering this support: https://www.betterhelp.com/start/
Is there anything else you would add to this list? Let me know in the comments below.
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Written by Rachel, The Invisible Hypothyroidism
Rachel is a Thyroid Patient Advocate and Expert with Six 2018 WEGO Health Award Nominations. She is a highly ranked writer appearing in the Top Hypothyroidism Websites and Top Thyroid Websites 2018. Currently studying for relevant qualifications and certificates in Life Coaching, Diet and Nutrition, Reflexology and more, she has worked with The National Academy of Hypothyroidism, The BBC, The Mighty, Dr. Hedberg, Thyroid UK and ThyroidChange, to name just a few. She is well recognised as a trusted and useful contributor to the thyroid community.