Self-care and self-love are similar, but not the same. To succeed at both, we need to tease them apart in order to understand them better.
Self-care is about how we nurture ourselves physically, mentally and emotionally.
It’s about taking steps to meet our own needs. It’s not complicated either. Here’s a quick checklist of the ways you can make self-care part of your daily routine:
- Eat and drink healthily
- Get enough sleep
- Take up exercise that you enjoy doing
- Make sure you’re properly hydrated
- Make time for the hobbies that you love
- Set aside time for any spiritual beliefs
- Acknowledge any negative emotions such as anxiety and sadness
- Make time for whatever social interaction fulfils you the most
There is no one-size-fits-all method of getting self-care ‘right.’ We’re all different. An introverted student with plenty of daily mental stimulation might need to prioritise time alone to recharge. Their self-care requirements will look very different to those of a busy parent with a full time job, for example.
When it comes to working out the right self-care approach for you, think bespoke.
Self-Care = A Calmer, Happier You
What about when you have kids/responsibilities/work to prioritise? How can you shoehorn in meaningful time just for you? Take a step back. Imagine how much better you will be able to handle all the demanding bits of your life that are clamouring for attention, if you’re firing on all cylinders.
Let’s face it, being calm, well rested, healthy and happy is a great starting point for meeting your goals and obligations.
OYNB and Self-Care
OYNB fits into your self-care toolbox beautifully. Notice when your self-esteem needs a bit of careful handling. Be alert to how you feel when you’ve eaten too much junk food or had one too many late nights. Stay aware of how you’re feeling, and all the different factors that contribute to how you’re feeling.
The profound importance of nurturing yourself leads us nicely onto self-love.
Loving ourselves is so important and we need to do it more. In fact, we need to do it all the time: from the moment we open our eyes, to when we go to sleep. It’s as vital as eating and breathing. And yet so many of us struggle with the idea of cherishing ourselves.
What exactly does it mean to love yourself? Try reframing self-love as self-compassion. We forget to love ourselves because we’re too busy judging ourselves over a mistake we’ve made, or some perceived flaw.
If a friend behaves imperfectly, shows weakness or makes a glaring error, do you ditch them immediately, only pausing to yell how pathetic and useless they are? Unlikely – most of us would react with understanding and sympathy.
Now hold a mirror up to yourself. Can you honestly say that you treat yourself as kindly? Next time you slip up at work, forget your wallet at the supermarket, or snap at the kids in a tired moment, resist the temptation to dive into harsh judgement. Instead, imagine that a friend has just told you they’ve done that exact thing. What you say to them?
‘To err is human; to forgive, divine.’
Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism
Or in our modern-day parlance: give yourself a break.
Mistakes Are Learning Curves
That’s not to say that we should ignore our mistakes. Not at all, but try to see them through a different filter. Falling short of your goal gives you the opportunity to do better next time.
Some people who embark on OYNB don’t succeed immediately. During the first few weeks, the bad day; the frazzled nerves, the exam stress…somewhere along the line, their resolve falters and they reach for an alcoholic drink. Strong, determined people with the very best intentions can still make mistakes.
Be a Good Friend to Yourself
If that happens to you, see it for it is: a glitch not a failure. Try to tell yourself what you would say to a good friend:
- Focus on what you’re achieved so far
- Be proud of yourself
- Don’t be discouraged
- Be kind to yourself
- Keep going
Self-Care and Self-Love: #TeamGoals
If you do – to coin a phrase – fall off the wagon during OYNB, then check in with yourself why it happened. Were you under excessive stress? Did an unexpected life event knock you off course? Did a combination of minor, seemingly innocuous things get the better of you?
Here is where self-care and self-love link hands. Pay attention to yourself. How are you’re feeling? What just happened there? Examine why you reached for that drink to minimise the chance of it happening again.
Learn from the experience, prescribe yourself a big dose of forgiveness and move onwards and upwards.
We all need to love ourselves, complete with our mistakes; flaws, sharp edges and the bits we try to keep out of sight. The very things that make us just like everyone else and yet completely unique: human, fallible and just a little bit wonderful.