Self-care is hard to talk about when we umbrella it all into one big giant ball, don’t you think? As there are several aspects of self-care, talking about each aspect separately makes the most sense to me.
The physical aspect of self-care probably the one harped on about most. I’m not saying that in a way to discredit it, it’s easier to talk about because it’s the most visual aspect and people can physically see the self-care – not something that can be said for emotional self-care (but we’ll get to that).
Our favourite blogger is having a luxury bubble bath, with bells and whistles and fancy body scrub and it looks so good – comforting and self-loving. Someone jogs past us in the street and although we don’t wish we were also running, it’s a caring act for one’s body. Keeping in good health and nourishing our body is undoubtedly important. It’s not all jogging and bubble baths though… (but bubble baths are damn fine).
“Self-care is more than bubble baths and good books.” – Christie Inge
This blog post is the first of my January series, focussing on Aspects of Self-Care. Whilst today I’ll be talking about the physical aspects of self-care (did you guess that from the title?), over the coming weeks I’ll be exploring the other aspects that make up healthy and self-loving self-care. Like Christie Igne says, it’s more that bubble bath and good books, but there’s no harm in starting here, right?
Below I’ve listed some physical acts of self-care that I think does a great job of starting the ball rolling. Feeling comfortable and confident in our physical selves is a learning curve, but practising any of these physical acts of self-care will get us on the right path (and in the right headspace).
Remember to breathe
You know when out of nowhere a massive sigh escapes from your mouth? That always reminds me to spend 10 seconds breathing deeply. Usually when in a very focused activity we forget to breathe a deeply as we should. Taking a few seconds to really fill your lungs with air, stretching towards the sky and letting the fresh air wake your brain up is one of the easiest acts of self-care to practice daily.
Over the festive season, those Calm ads kept popping up everywhere – the Do Nothing For 15 Seconds ones. They were the perfect reminder to take some deep breathes and focus on basic human functions, even just for 15 seconds. Breathing can become such a powerful tool for confidence, control and mindfulness, we just need to remember to do it.
I could have written bathe, moisturise, tone or tan, but time and time again, exfoliation is the thing that makes me feel better about my body. It’s also one of few things about skincare and body care that actually gets rid of the old and reveals the new, which is a great sensation that is hard to find with other physical acts of self-care.
Whether you like to dry brush before the shower, get a coffee scrub out or give yourself a luxurious buffing in the bath, exfoliation is one of my favourite ways to let my body know I’m caring for it. Especially during times of difficult mental health, making your body soft, smooth and worthy of self-care can be a much needed respite.
Wear clothes that fit
Maybe not the most shouted about practice of self-care but I’ve found that wearing clothes that fit and shunning clothes that are too tight and too big has helped me embrace my body now, recognising it and appreciating it. Taking care of the outside is something the easiest route toward taking care of the inside, and presenting ourselves with pride (even if it’s just a nice fitting pair of PJs) teaches us that we are worthy of feeling good.
For a long time, I’ve had to teach myself that fidgeting my feet when at a desk and doing a bit of dancing to the radio was, in fact, moving. It’s easy to think that moving means going running, doing ten hours of yoga or quitting your desk job and becoming a Deliveroo cyclist – moving can be, however, as simple as dancing whilst the kettle boils.
Moving helps us breathe more deeply (see above why that’s important), it helps us sleep better and improves our confidence levels – what’s not to love about doing a little under-the-desk foot dance?
People who hug more live longer. I’m 80% sure that that’s an actual fact. Even sitting closer to a friend or family member can release happy emotions in our brains because we’re human and we need another human’s touch (or at least cats). Hugging your friend when you meet up, your parent’s or just sitting next to someone instead of opposite to them – all little ways to get close to people and get those happy emotions raging.
If there’s no-one around then touch yourself (oo-er). Giving yourself a little foot massage, rubbing in lotion, even sliding your hands down your legs during a stretch-session, don’t be afraid to get skin-on-skin. We need it.
Sleep is a pretty big requirement for our brains to work properly. When we first think of sleep, physical self-care isn’t what pops into mind, but what else is it? Preparing for a good night’s rest and getting our body into a state where we are relaxed and can get the most out of our REM cycles is self-care.
Learn what you need for a good night’s sleep. Listen to yourself and turn the phone off when you’re fed up, get out the lavender-scented everything if that sends you off into a peaceful slumber. Recognise that to sleep is the most basic human need and try not to prioritise less-essential activities over it (I know it’s tempting too). Everything about our physical bodies work better when we’ve had enough sleep.