What does self-care mean to you? What pictures come to mind when you think of the words ‘self-care’? It usually means something very different for different people. Some of the responses I’ve had when I’ve asked people what it means to them include

· Taking time out for me

· Eating healthy

· Exercising

· Having a massage

which are all great answers!

Self-care to me means simply looking after your whole self, not because you ‘have to’ but because you want to, because it feels good to do so and because you like looking after your own needs as well as other people’s and it is such an important thing to do for yourself. We can only give to others when we have plenty within us to give. If you let yourself get run down, tired, de-hydrated, lacking in nutrients, mentally exhausted and a tired body, you simply cannot enjoy life nor can you be there for the important people in your life.

By taking care of yourself properly, you reduce stress in your own life. You increase happiness, you create a healthier body and mind and you feel more satisfied with life in general. Self-care has also helps prevent burnout, but most importantly, self-care shows you that you are indeed an important person. That your needs matter just as much as anyone else’s needs and that it’s not selfish or self-indulgent to take time out for yourself – it’s simply showing yourself some self-respect.

There’s a difference between eating fast food just because you’re hungry and need a quick fix, compared with making yourself a delicious and nutritious meal. Fast food is taking care of the hunger part of your body, but the nutritious meal is taking care of all of yourself; your hunger, but also your body and mind. You can have a quick shower to get clean or you can prepare a warm bath with some Epsom Salts and essential oils and have a soak. Again, these both achieve the goal of getting clean, but the bath is taking care of all of you – allowing you to relax, unwind, have time out and also get clean, instead of the rush that a quick rinse off in the shower will give you.

Often ladies will tell me that the reason they don’t do much in the way of self-care is because it’s either too expensive or they don’tMeditation in the Sunset have time. It is true that some self-care activities can be expensive but there’s plenty of other things you can do also. Facials, massages, manicures, retreats, yoga classes etc. can all be wonderful ways of taking care of yourself, but of course they come with a price tag. For these type of items, you may want to put a little money aside each week and treat yourself on a quarterly basis for example. Giving yourself these same types of luxuries at home though can be relatively inexpensive and yet you’ll still feel great after doing them.

And yes, sometimes self-care actions are impracticable on a daily basis – no, we don’t all have time to soak in the bath for an hour every day, but there are many self-care actions that you can introduce that can quickly become habits in your life, and other actions you may want to schedule in time for on a weekly or fortnightly basis.

Some cheap, quick and easy ideas for self-care can include:

· Swapping your morning coffee for a slice of lemon in hot water

· Giving yourself a hand massage and manicure

· Taking a nap

· Drawing, painting, creating etc.

· Listen to music

· Meditate

· Going for a walk on the beach (or your other fav place)

· Investing in a foam roller and giving your aching muscles a massage

· Exercising

· Preparing a healthy and nutritious meal

· Reading

· Start a compliment jar. When someone says something nice to or about you, write it down and pop it in your compliments jar. Every now and then re-read through all the beautiful things people think about you

· Stretch your body; or even better find a yoga workout on YouTube and treat your body to that

· Get some sunshine

· Go for a swim

· Slow down. Walk slower than you usually do, put your phone away and try to spot 5 beautiful things in your environment

· Keep a gratitude and accomplishments journal. Each day, write 5 things that you’re grateful for and anything you’re proud of accomplishing that day

· Give yourself a facial

Other aspects of self-care include things like regular doctor, dentist, option appointments for example. Is there some minor health issue that’s been bothering you but you seem to never get around to making that doctor’s appointment? If it was your child or family member, would you make sure they got checked out?

Self-care is often the first thing to get neglected when you become busy, tired or stressed and yet it’s the very thing that you should be turning to at these times. Many people treat self-care as a type of reward or treat, but if you start incorporating self-care into your daily and weekly routines, you’ll begin to notice great improvements in your life. If you’re feeling stressed or you’ve forgotten what self-care feels like, take some time today to pick out a couple of activities you can do every day that is caring just for you and then pick out another maybe lengthier activity you can do on a weekly basis.

Let me know in the comments below what your favourite self-care activity is and what you’re committing to do for yourself this week.

Donna Boylen helps women create the life of their dreams by getting clear on their goals, values and priorities.

Her passion is empowering women around the world to set and achieve magnificent goals both personally and professionally. She loves to work with women who are really ready to break through barriers and create their dream life.

Her goal is to help you achieve your personal and business goals in fast and easy ways that you never dreamed were possible and Donna coaches and conducts training programs for women wanting to succeed.

Join Donna’s group on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/achivinglifebalanceforworkingmums/ and download your free gift – 21 Ways to Balance Your Life Right Now here: http://www.donnaboylen.com/21waystobalanceyourlife

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