Have you heard about or do you know what ‘Self-Care’ means? Is it something that’s on your radar or is it more in the Bermuda lost triangle zone as far as you’re concerned? Do you even know what I’m talking about?! Self care is essentially about taking responsibility for yourself, your health and mental wellbeing. It essentially means to look after YOU. I knew of the term but despite doing a lot of things for ‘myself’ I didn’t really acknowledge that what I was doing was called ‘self-care’. Listening to Women’s Hour on Friday (I know, I’m WILD) there was a segment about this topic, where it took one woman finding out she had cancer, going through all the treatment and coming out the other side, before she realised that she hadn’t been taking care of herself at all. She realised pre-diagnosis that she’d been burning candle at both ends, running herself into the ground working and partying too hard. Having cancer made her realise she needed to slow down and start loving herself a bit more. The programme really got me thinking. Certainly leading up to IVF I was really good at meditating on a regular basis, I was getting loads of sleep, drinking loads of water etc but then the pregnancy and sickness stopped all of that, and then after the miscarriage everything went to shit, quite frankly. I went off track by way of rebelling and showing my anger I suppose. I stopped doing all of the things that were good for ME. I realised that I hadn’t been looking after myself at all.
What with the toll of IVF, I threw myself into December with gay abandon. That was what took my mind off things. I concentrated on shopping for gifts and writing lists about gifts, then over the festive period itself I had very little sleep, drank a lot and partied a bit too much. Then before I knew it Olivia was back at nursery, got a cold, gave it to me and BAM! That was me down and out for, well, basically January. The last thing my poor body needed was a month long cough but that’s what I gifted myself with. In hindsight, I allowed myself the crazy xmas to get over things, but when the cold kicked in, some self-care wouldn’t have gone amiss. I should have said no to a few things, and not played those very cold hockey matches (although I hate not to play) Some self-care may have saved me the horrendous cough and sleepless nights on the sofa that ensued. Listening to the show made me realise that all my self-care stopped after my miscarriage.
I saw a dear friend recently whose mother passed away early last year. She realised that she wasn’t taking care of herself and as a result burned out in December. She was working too hard and having crazy late nights at the weekends, resulting in sofa Sundays and not wanting to spend time with her kids. It took it’s toll and over Xmas, waking up yet another day feeling exhausted, she took a step back. She realised that she needed to look after herself more carefully, she needed to inject some self-care into her routine. So come January, she did a month of no drinking, early to bed and just slowing down a notch, and unsurprisingly she found that she felt remarkably better and more positive about life. So simple, right? Sometimes it takes us reaching that low point, to work out what it is that we need to do.
I had a think about what elements of self-care I actually do. I do go through phases of listening to a meditation scripts here and there, more so when IVF was taking place but day to day, I struggle to stick to this. Time, life, the small child etc gets in the way. And I often feel guilty about turning the lights off and zoning out for a bit when I know the husband is at work and Olivia is in nursery (it’s not the nursery bit so much, more the husband) but I guess I shouldn’t, right? Hockey is an element of self care. This is time out for me, time when I’m not thinking about our problems or what is or isn’t happening. It’s also my core fitness and social thing for ME to do. Also getting out and about in the fresh air is definitely self-care, although obviously I usually have the kid with me which isn’t so relaxing, but being outside, seeing a view, and taking a lungful of fresh air is wonderful for the soul. Going forwards I want to be more conscious of these things. I want to try and meditate at least once a week (aim low and all that), I’m playing hockey but also doing a bootcamp at the moment which is something new and good for my inner strength (grrr) and I want to just be more mindful of looking after myself, be that with more early nights, drinking more water, less booze -ideally stopping for a while altogether, self-care and self-love Emma.
Self care really can be in any shape or form. It could be playing sport, meditating, yoga, lighting a candle and lying under a blanket for twenty minutes when everyone is out of the house (because you’d totally get bothered if the kids were about) or having a solo coffee and cake. Basically making time to look after YOU. As a parent I think self-care is something that probably passes the majority of us by. I know it’s a slightly hilarious thought as many barely have time to dress and shower themselves every day, bar find ten minutes to get ‘zen’. Perhaps being aware that you aren’t making any time for yourself is a start. It’s great to concentrate on the kids and family, but if you’re feeling knackered and pissed off, then that feeds through into the mix. Let your self-care kick in. What will you start doing?