This post was written by Saint Belford Co Founder, Alex Phillips.
I wasn’t always a self-care advocate. Quite the opposite actually.
I was all about the hustle.
I even had a poster up that said “good things come to those who hustle” which now makes me CRINGE because the only “good thing” I received was an involuntary timeout. Even though it felt like punishment at the time, it was a blessing in disguise.
I had finally learned my lesson.
Neglecting your wellbeing to chase your goals is unsustainable and unproductive.
Look, I’m not saying practising self-care daily is going to make you immune to exhaustion and anything remotely negative. It won’t, but it will certainly improve your quality of life and alleviate a lot of the suffering that comes from neglecting your health and wellbeing.
I know, it doesn’t sound as sexy as hustling hard and being the busiest bee of them all…
Give it time, it’ll grow on you.
If you’re curious why self-care is worth every bit of your time or perhaps in need of a gentle reminder to kickstart or resume your self-care routines and rituals, then this is for you.
Your body is constantly sending you little signals, telling you what feels good and what doesn’t, so that you can make the right adjustments and be the healthiest version of yourself.
The problem is, making these healthy “adjustments” doesn’t always appear on our list of priorities because we don’t feel the immediate consequences of neglect.
Not to mention, it can often feel like an unwanted chore, right?
It’s only over time that we feel the weight of our actions and even then, we can be slow to take the first step…
When you actively listen to your body’s signals, you naturally become more in tune with your needs and how to address them.
This means you can proactively care for yourself by anticipating your needs, based on the environment and situation you’re in.
“But how do I listen to my body?” Glad you asked.
Start with a body scan exercise. Begin by bringing your attention to your toes, then your feet, ankles, all the way up to the top of your head. This can help you cultivate awareness of your entire body and notice any tension, pain or discomfort that needs to be addressed.
For example, I know that sitting at a desk for long periods of time affects my lower back. I’ve realised stretching in the morning and taking regular breaks to stand and stretch helps immensely.
I didn’t always practise this. In my last “desk jockey” job, my lower back was a constant issue because I didn’t take any steps to improve it.
Ignoring these signals ultimately diminishes your quality of life. The idea is to listen to the whispers of your body and address them before they turn into screams.
Giving yourself a mental break allows you to focus on what’s going on internally and work through any internal battles you may be experiencing, whether it’s anxiety, confidence, body image issues, letting go, forgiving yourself – the list goes on!
The more you tune in to how are you feeling, the more you’ll notice emotional patterns and triggers.
You may notice certain social situations leave you feeling empowered while others increase anxiety and promote destructive behaviour.
Similarly, certain people might knock your confidence and trigger negative self-talk while others encourage more positive dialogue, keep you accountable and help you follow through with your intentions.
These powerful insights can help you identify what changes need to be made in order to improve your mental health.
Bad days are part and parcel of being human, but you don’t need to suffer unnecessarily.
You can say no to things that don’t serve you. You can reduce your exposure to situations that affect your mental wellbeing. You can exit toxic relationships.
To a certain extent, whether it’s your Instagram feed or your social life, you can curate your environment to work for you, not against you.
Feeling energised is the byproduct of proactively looking after your mind and body.
You can’t expect to feel your best if you’re not consistently refuelling your tank.
Yes, you will still have sick days and low-energy days, but for the most part, prioritising the needs of your mind and body unleashes the stamina to do the things that excite you, not just the tasks you have to do.
Getting sufficient sleep, nourishing your body with the right foods, moving your body, speaking kindly to yourself, pausing as often as you need to – these are all basic prerequisites for replenishing your energy levels.
The rest is a game of trial and error.
We can provide the inspo, but it’s your responsibility to figure out what self-care routines and rituals work best for you and your lifestyle.
How you treat yourself influences how you show up in the world and your capacity to care for others.
You simply cannot pour from an empty cup.
As much as society gravitates towards the idea that self-care is selfish, putting yourself first allows you to show up as your best self for your partner, family, friends and everyone else you cross paths with.
There’s a reason why they tell you to put your oxygen mask on first.
There will always be obstacles to cross and challenges to overcome.
Feeling exhausted and burnt out doesn’t exactly put you in the best frame of mind to strategise or problem-solve your way through life.
Speaking from experience, you’re more likely to feel defeated and emotionally fragile, than optimistic and determined.
Feeling physically and mentally fit equips you with the resilience to better handle what life throws at you. It fosters a more positive view of the world where setbacks and hurdles are perceived as opportunities for growth.
The fact is, self-care is an underutilised antidote to stress.
Slowing down helps you clarify what you want, what you don’t want, and what is important to you.
Clarifying your goals helps you prioritise your time and energy, instead of saying yes to everything and everyone. It teaches you to respect your time.
Too often, we waste our time chasing goals that belong to a different version of ourselves, instead of checking in to see if this is something we still deeply desire.
It’s amazing how much you can achieve when you disconnect from the chaos. It gives you space to observe and assess how you are spending your days. It’s also an opportunity to exercise gratitude, embrace the present moment and acknowledge your progress.
If we don’t consciously slow down to savour the journey, we’ll miss out on all the priceless moments that shape our life.
Mindlessly speeding to your destination to cross the “finish line” instead of honouring your needs is a recipe for burnout.
Not only are you depriving yourself of the little joys, fulfillment, inner peace, bursts of energy and FREE hits of dopamine that come from pressing pause and embracing the PRESENT, you are waging a war on your future self.
Go easy on yourself. Take it slow and steady and cherish the journey you’re on.
Wherever you are, be 100% there.
In a culture that frequently glorifies the hustle, the need to slow down, reconnect with yourself and recharge your mind and body has never been more important.
Self-care doesn’t have to be anything glamorous and it certainly doesn’t have to break the bank.
It’s about listening to what your body needs and engaging in activities that enhance your wellbeing and overall quality of life.
Have a think about what habits, routines and rituals you can start integrating into your life today!
If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed and unsure where to begin, let me assure you that I have been there too.
I remember my first attempts to meditate and my first yoga class – it was uncomfortable because I didn’t know what I was doing, but now I couldn’t live without these rituals and here I am two years later rambling on about self-care and how important it is.
Download our FREE Self-Care Resource Guide: 150+ Self-Care Ideas and Resources to nudge you in the right direction.
We’re also posting one self-care idea on our stories every day, so make sure you’re following us @saintbelford for some realistic self-care inspo.