October wasn’t an easy month for me. Whilst I spent the whole of September milling about thinking “WOW I am the queen of productivity! This juggling blogging and working and having a social life malarkey is easy”, my third-year work load really crept up on me. Suddenly, I had 5,000 words to write, three books a week to read and a blog schedule to keep up with. Something had to give. And as I said in my last post, I didn’t want that to be my £9,000-a-year education. Even after I stopped posting and doing everything else blog related, I was exhausted. I was staying up late and waking up early. I wasn’t taking the time to cook any decent food. Basically, I wasn’t looking after myself at all. So, I guess it’s no surprise that I came down with several illnesses at once. I can now see that that should have been a sign to slow down, but at the time it was just another reason for me to stress about how I was going to get everything done on time.
The whole thing made me realise that I’m not all that good at self-care when I actually need it. I think, like a lot of people, I’m good at talking about how important it is to look after yourself, but rubbish at actually doing it when I’m having a bad day. Stressed-out-Beth truly can’t be trusted to practice what she preaches. Which is why I decided to create a personalised self-care checklist, to take any need for thinking out of the equation. Because thinking is usually the point when I say “nah…I’ll just keep working instead”.
Even though I’ve seen a few “Self-Care” checklists floating around online, I found that most of them didn’t really apply to me. That’s not to say that they aren’t incredible, but self-care is such a personal thing. So, whilst I considered just sharing my own practical self-care list, I also realised that it might be relatively useless. After creating my checklist I decided to strip it back into a basic template that anybody can use. Because, let’s be honest, we could all use a reminder every now and then. If you can stick that reminder up above your workspace or save it on your phone, even better!
Physical self-care is the ‘basics’; it’s those things that we do regularly when we’re feeling normal but that it’s too easy to let slide on a bad day: Showering, eating well, exercising, getting out of bed. Whichever suits your situation.
Social self-care is extremely dependent on whether you are an introvert or an extrovert (may I recommend taking a personality test to find out?) If you’re inspired by human interaction, going to see your friends or family could be on your list. If you’re an introvert, then simply saying “no” to an event counts just as much as self-care.
Spiritual self-care does not necessarily mean praying or doing yoga, although it can, of course. It just means connecting to what you think is your purpose. It means taking time to learn about yourself.
Finally, mental self-care are those things that specifically help to calm down your brain. For me, that’s journaling, but it could be running, singing or creating art for you.
As you’ve probably noticed, a lot of these categories overlap, but don’t worry, I’m not going to be marking you based on accuracy. I just wanted to get us into the mindset of looking after ourselves in a multiplicity of ways. I think it’s important to recognise that self-care isn’t always Lush baths and face masks (even though I certainly incorporate them)! Equally, I decided to create a “things to avoid section”, because self-care is just as much a case of doing positive things as it is not doing negative things.
Sometimes, we all need a reminder that we’ve got to nourish to flourish. For me, this little list is an easy way to look after my future-self. If you decide to use it, be sure to take a picture and tag me on Twitter or Instagram! Let’s create a self-love club.