From Pinterest quotes all the way to IG hacks, the word ‘self-care’ has been on everyone’s lips for the last two years. On google alone, there are 5 billion results linking self-care to food, workouts or meditation.
Yes, self-care is a big word that means everything and nothing simultaneously. So how can one hack it?
Where does one find the time or money to embrace it during a pandemic or economic crisis? And should you know what self-care even means, where the hell do you start?
Start by building a habit.
The Self-Care Federation defines self-care as:
“the practice of looking after one’s own health using the knowledge and information available to them.”
But this definition implies that one has access to content and/or people to enhance their life. And since it isn’t true for everyone, let me share my first
tip to get into the self-care game.
Phillippa Lally, PhD, a senior researcher at University College London, has shown that it takes 66 days to create a habit. Right now, you are probably wondering how one can even stick to a habit for that long?! YOU do! You brush your teeth and shower every day, don’t you?! Self-care IS a learnt
behaviour. So, until it is one, pre-book self-care time in your diary. Here are some examples:
- Cook a nice meal once a week instead of ordering Deliveroo
- Wake up five minutes every day before your kids to sip away your coffee in peace
- Journal your emotions and enjoy their cathartic purpose
- Meditate ten minutes a day during your commute using the Calm app
Practising self-care means you care enough about your well-being to carve time outside of your obligations. It is about acknowledging you are WORTHY. You are worthy enough not to have to work super hard or help others so that you can put yourself first. It is about throwing away the dated belief of ‘no pain, no gain’.
Explore the world
Since April 2022, I have read at least one book monthly. Over the last year, incredible individuals have transported and inspired me. I have learnt resilience tips and scientific concepts from Viola Davis, Will Smith and Dr Julie Smith, just to name a few.
Some evenings, I read as little as five pages and others ten chapters. It helps me disconnect from the busyness of the world; whilst expanding my knowledge and fostering my creativity. Reading benefits everyone. It has up to twenty known benefits, from building vocabulary to alleviating depression to expanding lifespan. In case you need some inspiration, here are some of my favourite picks: Why has nobody told me this before by Dr Julie Smith, You belong by Sebene Sellasie, Why I am not longer talking to people about Race by Eddo-Lodge, Gut by Giulia Enders and last but not definitely not least, The longevity book by Cameron Diaz. I got hooked on amazon’s second-hand purchasing option.
Move your mind, body and energy
Did you know that physical activity has up to twenty health benefits? I have noticed its mental ones firsthand during the pandemic. Whatever you are into, any movement has health benefits; whether it is walking, running, stretching, HIIT, yoga… Exercising promotes brain health, strengthens bones, reduces stress as well as lowers the risk of disease. If you are not a natural fitness guru, know that you are not alone! The key is to create an
obligation. It can be a pre-paid class, having a workout buddy, booking a course… I love the quote,
“what feels today like a workout; one day will be your warm-up.”
I have been there, trust me.
Unlocking the power of confidence
During the first year of lockdown, I hardly wore any makeup, something unusual for a beauty binger who has been in the industry for over 15 years. Lack of many skincare advocates, I dedicated the first two months to letting my skin breathe. As months went by and I gained ten extra minutes of sleep, my confidence slipped away.
A year into lockdown, as I got back on the makeup train, something happened. My confidence came back. But what surprised me most was that my self-esteem had never been linked to makeup. Weird right?! Applying serums, moisturisers and toners meant that I was showing up for myself. From coloured pencils to sparkly eyeshadows, makeup brings playtime to my busy diary.
Think about how this idea might translate to something in your life: clothes, accessories, shoes…
Altruism can boost one’s happiness.
I volunteer for more than five networks in and outside of work. I mentor, coach, blog, podcast… I am not telling you this to brag. I tell you because volunteering has so many unknown benefits.
Of course, it can help you gain skills or build a network of influence for your next job. But it is not it. Volunteering can bring one joy by making them feel part of something greater than themselves.
Altruism has been scientifically proven to improve both the giver’s and receiver’s life. The giver’s self- esteem can be boosted, and the risk of depression is curbed as it promotes social connection.
You are only human
Let’s be real. It is okay if you are scared of not getting ‘self-care’ right. But let me tell you that it is impossible to get it wrong. Self-care is self-care. Something I am often reminded by my friends, when I blame myself for falling behind on my skincare routine or volunteering gigs.
After all, we are ONLY human. Even Mary Poppins says, ‘she is practically perfect in every way’. So, day after day, I learn to get it right and accept that being disciplined can be hard in a fast-moving word. I learn that self-care is about self-grace.
To close this blog, I would like to share Audre Lorde’s words of wisdom:
“I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self-indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival.”
This blog contribution was made by Gaelle Couberes.
Gaëlle COUBERES is a French but Londoner at heart; she has been living in the UK for over twelve years.
She believes in the power of sisterhood, championing both diversity & inclusion and mental health.
Gaëlle works for Unilever as Sr Global Innovation Manager, taking pride in being a content creator, a mental health champion, and a mentor. She truly believes in the power of community and solidarity, the magic dust that makes a difference in life’s wild ride.
Besides crafting content for the Like-Minded Female Network as a Blogger, she leads Lean In London. Beyond that role, she is also a Mental Health First Aider and volunteer for the incredible #IamRemarkable initiative.
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