This week, whilst undertaking some well deserved self care and getting my eyebrows waxed, I found myself debating the best ways to survive a nuclear apocalypse and I realised that 2017 is really doing a number on me. All of a sudden I’m anxious about the fact that I stopped watching ‘The Walking Dead’ after season two and I don’t know how to open cans of beans without the use of my left-handed tin opener. I am a terrible millennial who survives on ‘Sushi to Go’ lunches and next day delivery purchases and I know I am completely unprepared for what is about to happen in Post Brexit Britain. For someone who experiences anxiety in most situations in my life this current state of world affairs is really distorting my chi. I’m about two signed executive orders from locking myself in a cupboard with a box of pinot and waiting for Will Smith to come and rescue me.
If like me, you’re are feeling the pressures of the tiny handed Cheetos world domination and you need to find a way to calm your knickers before you start raiding B&Q for barbed wire and nails guns then below is a few helpful tips in how to manage your self care and maintain your sanity as we step into the abyss.
Lets Get Physical
Tired, sick, exhausted? The number one rule of self care should be meeting your own physical needs. If the shell in which you are working out of isn’t functioning then how can you expect to even to begin to address all the other bits? If you have been to the GP and he has given you prescribed medication, then take them. Meet your own health needs and make them a priority, and whether that is drinking more fluid, getting more sleep or seeing to your medical needs then don’t procrastinate, get on and do it. I am a great believer in the occasional mental health day and taking some time to your self to recover from the everyday stressors of life. So whatever it is that you need to do to keep your body fit, healthy and functioning, make it the number one of your to do list today.
No, put down your crusty copy of Fifty Shades of Grey, I am not talking about that kind of master. I am talking about the skill of master-y. The ability to become a bloody boss of something and enjoying the feeling of control that comes along with it. Self care isn’t all bath bombs and face masks. Whether you’ve decided you’re going to become the bad ass bitch of cross stitching or Instagram’s new favourite yogi, find a skill and master it. It will take hard work and there will be times when you are a complete fail, but as you learn and develop your new skill, the sense of achievement and confidence which will come from this will help you feel confident in mastering other aspects of your life. So go forth and knit until your hearts content.
Get Out of Your Head
My head is a busy place to be. Its like a medieval market up in there, a cacophony of noise, chatter, debates and the occasional deluded woman running through it, ringing a bell and screaming “The Plague, The Plague’. At best, it’s a place I need to vacate from occasionally and I find the best way of doing this is grounding myself in reality. Not the reality of Twitter, Facebook or (in the darkest of days) Tumblr, but in actual real life. My favourite way of doing this is with a little self careened awareness exercise.
Grab a fragranced hand lotion and pop a bit in your hand. Smell it, look at it, and recognize how it feels. Now spend the next 3-5 minutes massaging it into your fingers, palms and wrists. Be aware of how it feels and every time your mind drifts off to that medieval market, bring it back and refocus on what you are doing. It sounds weird, it might look a bit weird, but trust me, and a five-minute vacation from your thoughts is a marvelous thing to do.
Increase your “Ahhhh Yes!” Moments
Tell me the last nice thing you did for yourself? Not for your kids, partner or next door neighbours cat – but for you… If you can’t think of anything then you need to be spending a bit more time on yourself, like now! Life is a struggle, as an adult we probably learnt long ago that chasing the ‘Happy Ever After’ has not really worked out for us, and if anything, it can leave us feeling a little flat. The best way to counteract this is with little moments that make us feel good. The skill is to input little positive events that increase our pleasure and our overall well-being throughout the week. It can be an extra long bath, a candle lit room, a dance class, singing to the radio at dial 11 or a nice meal and a cuppa with friends. Whatever tickles your fancy? I like a nice long bath (sans phone) with a candle flickering on the bath side. I like to watch the flame flicker and jump for 5 minutes and notice the thoughts I’ve been carrying around in my head during the day. It’s worth noting, that at first, these might not always feel as good as you had planned they would be, but over time, adding things in our lives that are purely there for our own enjoyment will cause a snowballing effect and remind ourselves we are worth five minutes of our own time.
When it all just gets too much and you want to bury yourself inside your duvet until 2030, just stop and breathe. I never really understood this before I started therapy, like we breathe all the time, how can that bring comfort? Then I found my favourite ‘breathing technique’ and it all made sense. Sometimes the easiest forms of self care come from something we do everyday to survive.
Sit comfortably and focus on how you breathe, notice your lungs filling, your stomach moving, feel that breath in your chest. Now breathe to the count of “Inhale 1” and then breathe out to “Exhale 1”, then breathe in again, repeating in your mind, ‘Inhale 2’ – repeat this 10 times until you get to ‘Exhale 10 ‘and voila, you will feel a lot more calmer and less crazed, I promise. The same with the awareness skill earlier, when you mind drifts off, bring it back to your breath and start again – Inhale 1…
If All Else Fails – Pass the Gin
If you try all these and life is still going to the shit then I advise we all bundle round mine for a pint of gin and watch the nuclear explosions from my kitchen. At least we will be together.
In all seriousness, the current mood of the world is a little scary and placing that on top of all other day-to-day worries can feel a little overwhelming. It is more important than ever to see to your own mental health and ensure you have little moments in your day that support you to cope. I am sure we will need all our strength over the coming months to support those around us who may be struggling too. Here is a big fat glass of Gin to our health and happiness.