Once you type into google “Self-care activities”, there is an abundance of lists. Instead of repeating the same stuff on Google, I’ve put together some tips about self-care that might be a bit more effective:
- Check in on your motivation/intention
If engaging in any self-care; check in which system is activated (see previous post) and what is your motive? For example, are you doing it to avoid feeling anxious (red), because it’s on your to-do list and must achieve (blue), or because it’s what you actually need (green)? If you are engaging in self-care out of a red or blue motive, it may not be as effective. If you are expecting for it to automatically change your mood, you might be left feeling disappointed and possibly not feeling comforted at all.
If you only do self-care when you are feeling anxious, low, upset, (i.e. threat based (red) – when you want to stop feeling such a way), it may not be hugely effective or sustainable. It is beneficial to take care of yourself even when you are not experiencing unpleasant feelings. Self-care may then come to you more naturally when also practiced during non-stressful times and may even minimise overall unpleasant feelings. (See window of tolerance post).
- Do what works for you
It does not matter what works for your friend or what Google tells you will “make you feel better”, trust yourself. One person’s self-care activity could be someone else’s nightmare. Forcing yourself to go for a run when you hate running (but Google say it works), is unlikely going to soothe you. Ask yourself “What do I need in this moment?”
- Have a variety
Let’s say a cup of tea is your go to. However, one day you have a sore throat and the doctor says to avoid hot drinks as it will irritate your throat. How useful do you think that cup of tea is going to be on that day? Probably not and may even create additional pain and then frustration. Hence, it is useful to have a variety of “go-to’s” instead of relying on just the one.
- Have a “go to” place
Sometimes it can hard to “think” of what you really need. Therefore, it can be useful to have something physical you can go to. You can use something like a shoe-box (and decorate if you want) and put in different items like photos, scented oils, candles, pencils, soft items, sticky notes with ideas etc.
- Draw in on your interests
What are you interested in? Let’s take music for example. You can do activities revolving around more than just listening to music. Maybe it is creating a scrapbook of your favourite songs, going through old photos of concerts you’ve been to, learning about your favourite artist, watching music videos etc. Be true to yourself, your strengths and get creative with it.
- Make a conscious effort
Your autopilot might want to keep pushing through to the weekend before you do something for yourself. A self-care activity doesn’t have to extravagant; it can be taking a two minute break to just breathe. Perhaps create an alarm to remind you when to take a time out to help with developing the habit.