Taking care of yourself is manifested in small things: drinking a glass of water, stretching or taking a few deep breaths. Or it could be more challenging activities that require more effort or time: getting back in good shape to run 5 miles, tidying up at home, or learning to do grounding exercises.
Why is self-care so difficult?
Many find it very difficult to take care of themselves. It is difficult to find time for this, especially when the pace of life has been changed by war. Changing habits is never easy and can take time. Taking care of ourselves becomes more difficult because we are constantly living in stress, depressed, upset and anxious. And even those things that were given easily before are now difficult to do. In addition, if you have recently experienced a tragic event or are experiencing grief and sorrow, you may find it difficult to take care of yourself for other reasons: you have found other ways to overcome, but less safe or healthy: excessive alcohol consumption or self-harm.
This can give you short-term relief and is therefore difficult to stop. However, in the long run they only do harm. You may feel ashamed or blame yourself for what happened. This, in turn, can make you feel that you don’t “deserve” to take care of yourself.
Remember, you are not to blame for what happened. If you feel depressed, do not have the energy to take care of yourself, try to divide your routine worries into small stages, or find other activities that best suit your energy level.
Maybe today it’s taking a shower, brushing your teeth and making tea. While self-care may seem difficult or out of time, it’s important to remember that even steps that seem small will still help. Be sure to choose the activities that work best for you. And if something makes you feel worse, stop doing it and try another activity.
How to start taking care of yourself?
Your body and space
It is advisable not to start all these actions at once. Choose only one or two activities that suit you the most. Please remember that self-care should give you a sense of security, comfort, health and care, not overload or stress.
Take care of your body – drink water. Try drinking 8 glasses of water.
Eat healthy food. By eating right, we give our body the fuel it needs to fight disease and work well throughout the day. You can try to eat an extra portion of fruit or vegetables a day, reduce unhealthy snacks and remember to eat breakfast in the morning.
Sleep. Sleep is one of the most important factors in our physical and mental health. Most people now have trouble sleeping.
Exercise. Regular exercise will improve your health, help you sleep better and reduce feelings of sadness and anxiety. You will also feel stronger and in touch with your body. It is important to choose what you like: if you do not like going to the gym, try walking, gardening or dancing to your favorite music. Try yoga. Scientists say that yoga can be useful for people who have experienced trauma. Now not everyone can attend yoga classes, but there are many free online classes available.
Take a shower or bath. Taking a shower or bath can be relaxing, it’s not just about personal hygiene. Sometimes this can seem like a big task, remember what you like about it – the warmth or the feeling afterwards.
Amuse your body. Choose the one that suits you: whether it’s applying a moisturizer, a face mask, a new haircut, painting your nails, or perhaps applying your favorite scent. Everything that will give you a feeling of care and relaxation.
Take care of your space. Breathe in the fresh air. If possible, try to walk every day or spend time outdoors. You can also open a window and ventilate a room or house. Do the cleaning. While housework may seem like a chore to most people, a clean and tidy home will help you feel much better. If you still think it will take a lot of effort, focus on one small thing – wash dirty dishes, spread clothes or make the bed.
Pleasant smells. These can be candles, room spray, essential oils, pastries or fresh linen – anything that smells good to you.
Create comfort. Sometimes it’s just sitting on the couch and wrapped in your favorite blanket.
Your mind and communication with others
Take care of your mind. Do what you love. It is very important that you take the time to do things that you find interesting, relaxing or fun. It doesn’t matter what it is: watching sports, collecting puzzles, knitting, cooking, playing games, scrapbooking, drawing, gardening or any craft.
Breathe. Deep breathing can be an effective way to reduce feelings of anxiety and stress. Simple breathing exercise: put one or both hands on your stomach. Inhale slowly through the nose. Your arm and abdomen should rise as the air fills your lungs. Exhale slowly through your mouth. Your arm and abdomen should lower as you exhale. Do this for a few minutes. See how your hand rises and falls while breathing. For many, this breathing allows them to feel calmer. However, if this makes you feel more panicky, stop now.
Try “grounding” exercises. Practicing such exercises will make you feel calmer and better in control of the situation. They are especially useful if you have flashbacks, panic attacks or a feeling of derealization.
Remember, it’s OK not to feel OK. Sometimes we try to hide, ignore or avoid negative emotions. But it is actually more useful to recognize these emotions and express them. If you feel depressed, anxious, sad or angry – let yourself know that this is normal. Sometimes we all need to cry or spend the day under a blanket.
Write down your thoughts. This will help you feel better, express your feelings, explore patterns and reflect. You may want to keep a diary in your notebook or on your phone.
Say good and positive things to yourself. Instead of saying negative or critical things to yourself, try making positive statements (“I’ve survived”, “I’m strong”, “I’m a good person”) or reassuring statements (“Everything will be fine”, “I’m fine”). I do my best “,” I’m safe “).
Try to notice good things. It is so evolutionary that our brains are designed to notice bad or negative things. This means that we focus on these things more than on the positive. You can try to balance this by making an effort to notice the good things around you. Even noticing the little things: a cup of delicious tea or a good song on the radio.
Chat with other people. Send a message. Send a message to someone in your family or friend. It shouldn’t be about how you feel – it could be a silly joke, meme or question for them.
Make plans with family or friends. You can schedule a long phone call, go for a walk, play bowling, drink coffee, play online games and more. It doesn’t matter what the activity is, the goal is to connect and have fun.
Talk about how you feel. If you have someone you trust, you can help talk to them about your feelings. All you need to do is share what you are comfortable talking about: for example, you can focus on what you are feeling now, rather than on difficult memories if you feel better.