Below, Ellen Bard writes about better self care and how to look after yourself…. After all we all need a bit of Me-Time!
Do you make a little time in your life just for you?
Or do you spend your time running round after others to make sure everyone’s needs are met but yours? Your partner, children, grandchildren, boss, colleagues, friends?
Better Self Care
Six years ago, I was definitely in the latter camp. My main focus was work. Despite two chronic health conditions I was determined to excel in my high-flying consulting career. I loved my job, but I forgot to have a life as well. Any time and energy that I wasn’t investing in work, was needed to rest, or have the doctor, consultant and wellness appointments that kept me going.
It wasn’t sustainable. It took a lot of soul searching to realise that the job I loved was no good for me. Then, what I intended to be a few months’ break to travel turned into five years of travel, until I finally met and settled down with my life-partner in Bangkok, Thailand. I’m still a consultant (internationally, now, with work in twenty countries under my belt), but I’m freelance and I control my own schedule. I’m also an author, with a thriving, full and wonderful life.
This Is For You
Why this book? Why now?
So why did I write ” This Is For You: A Creative Toolkit For Better Self Care” ?
Working with clients in businesses and through my self-care website, I realised that despite the fact that we need self care more than ever in this chaotic, pressured, overstimulated modern age, it’s something few of us pay attention to. We don’t make time to stop and check in with ourselves. We’re so busy rushing around from one thing to the next that we don’t pay attention to what’s going on inside ourselves.
We’re disconnected from our body, mind and soul. We feel feelings, but we can’t always identify what they are. We feel sluggish in our body, but we’re not always sure why. Something’s missing in our lives, but we don’t know what it might be. And this means our attempts to find solutions for these things – numbing out with television, putting yet more activities in the diary, working with the latest diet fad – rarely work.
Self-care is about paying more attention to our physical, mental and emotional needs Self care is taking care of your self as a whole person. The book is the culmination of many years as a workplace psychologist. Of seeing the impact of not taking enough care of ourselves not only on us, but on others. When we’re tired or stressed or burnt out, it’s hard for us to make good decisions or take good actions. That doesn’t only impact on us, but it ripples out from our little corner of the world to our relationships at home and in work.. From there it ripples into society. Taking care of ourselves can actually make a wider difference to the world as we are able to show up as our best self.
Body, Mind & Emotions
The book makes concrete some of the many ideas, tips and strategies I’ve shared with clients in person and through the website. The core of the book are the Body, Mind and Emotions sections. Most of us would benefit from investing some time and attention in these areas. I’ve also included some less intuitive areas where we could benefit from being kinder to ourselves. This includes our Time, Work, Creativity and Relationships. A chapter on Change provides exercises to help us build resilience in a world that no longer stays the same from one day to the next.
The book isn’t there to tell you what to do, rather, it’s a list of 101 small behavioural experiments you can do at your leisure, and in the order that works for you. The tone is warm and gentle, like the kind advice and suggestions of a friend, but with the rigour and robustness of a psychologist behind it.
Which doesn’t mean I haven’t had to – and still do have to! – work hard on my own self-care. I’ve worked to make more conscious decisions about how I spend my time. After all, our life is nothing more than the many small actions we take every day combined. Every moment truly counts. I’ve learned that self-care isn’t something you tick off a list. It’s a work in progress, something that you do a little of every day to stay in the best shape.
Self care is a life’s work. But it can make for a life that’s truly worth living.
by Ellen Bard
Ellen Bard is the author of This Is For You out on January 3rd available in Waterstones and in all good book stores. Ellen is a work psychologist, writer and digital nomad. She is on a mission to bring practical, personal improvement ideas to those who are short on time. Ellen is an Associate Fellow of the British Psychology Society, and registered with the Health Professions Council in the UK.