Self Care First Aid Kit
One habit that I really encourage you to consider developing is that of taking stock of your self-care; by self-care, I mean your emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing. Remembering that we aren’t just a brain on a stick, we are complex beings with many component parts and many needs.
If we pay attention to our physical needs and neglect our emotional needs, then we will feel an inner tension which opens up the potential for anxiety, likewise if we pay attention to our emotional needs and neglect our physical selves then we will become unwell. So too if we pay attention to our physical and emotional selves and neglect our spiritual needs then we are likely to feel flat, disconnected and even see our own and the lives of others as having low or no value.
To pay attention to our whole selves takes discipline and effort. We must pay focused attention to our needs as a whole person and not compartmentalise our needs just to get through each day.
I have heard so many time girls say, I will pay some attention to my self-care once I’ve finished my exams. This attitude is all too common, but it is not good for our overall wellbeing. In order to be applying an attitude of self-care we need to pay attention in our everyday situations.
A major attitude of self-care is to slow down, slowing down never hurt anyone and taking a few minutes out of each day to ask ourselves “what are my needs as a whole person today?” is certainly good practice. Practising a variety of good habits, such as getting enough good quality sleep, adequate exercise, maintaining a good balanced diet full of real, nutritious foods, practising relaxation techniques, spending connected time with your family and friends are just a few attitudes of self-care. Basically, any activities that give you a “feel good” factor feed your brain with the correct neurochemicals that help you to develop a sense of being grounded, being calm, and will have a positive effect on your overall wellbeing.
Sometimes, however, you may go through an emotional emergency, and just as you would respond if there were a medical emergency, having the right tools in your First Aid Kit is always helpful.
Here are a few things to consider putting in your Self Care First Aid Kit.
An object such as a piece of driftwood, a shell or a pebble - Sometimes just holding and feeling objects like these can help you to feel grounded. Taking notice of something organic and tactile can help to reduce emotional reactions.
Friends and family telephone list - Start by having three or four people on your list, these are people who you know are emotionally supportive and will listen to you if you need to talk.
Note book - writing down your feelings or drawing pictures which symbolise your emotional state can be really cathartic.
Colouring books – this is another way to ground yourself when you feel overwhelmed. Colouring, especially intricate pictures is calming, as you are reducing your focus down to become more mindful, this will have a calming effect.
A Good Book – reading helps us to relax and to reduce our focus and our thinking. Many people find comfort in reading poems, prayers or short stories.
A feel-good movie or audio story – find something that makes you laugh; laughter is certainly one of our best tools for our wellbeing.
Your own list of activities that you know improve your mood. This is something that you know helps you feel better. This may be taking your dog for a walk, or doing your favourite hobby, craft activity, drawing or painting.
Practising self-care takes dedication and effort, you may find this effort hard to adopt initially, but each time you use the tools from your First Aid Kit you are practising self-care and embedding the good behaviours and habits that increase your well-being. So that when you have an emotional emergency, these activities become second nature and your immediate go-to.
Written by Emma Williams, Wellbeing Mentor