SELF-CARE - YOU ALWAYS MATTER / THE SMALL THINGS MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE
You matter, yes YOU! A statement most of us cringe at hearing, would scarcely believe to be true all of the time, let alone purposefully act on with any conviction to care for our ‘Self’.
SELF-CARE: WHAT IS IT?
“Just as a motor vehicle can travel further when fuelled by a full tank of fuel- the correct fuel- we can give more, be more and help more when our tanks are full” The Self-Care Project, Jayne Hardy.
What does the phrase ‘self-care’ make you think of? Does it make you cringe and avoid at all costs, feel selfish and indulgent, or does it seem obvious and fairly futile to you?
‘Self-care’ is a term that’s become widely used and has gained support from key healthcare professionals and organisations, but what does this popular notion actually mean? And why does it matter?
Self-care is all about encouraging people to take action to better care of themselves; physically, mentally, emotionally. Self-Care is all about the small things, making a big difference.
Self-care isn’t just about the sweet treats and sparkly bath bombs, though these things are great! It’s not a feminine notion, or about spending heaps of money, it’s for everyone and it’s personal.
Real acts of self-care are often about achieving the basic, dare we say boring elements of day to day life; it’s knowing what’s good for you and doing it. Keeping ourselves clean, eating well and getting enough sleep are just a few of these.
What can you do today, that you will thank yourself for tomorrow? Sometimes we can feel fonder of our future self than of ourselves right now, we need a perspective shift.
Brene Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston has spent two decades studying: courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy. She says ‘Loving ourselves through the process is the bravest thing we’ll ever do’. Taking hold of this can help us to make healthier decisions, today.
SELF-CARE: WHY IS IT GOOD FOR US?
A recent study undertaken by the BBC suggests that the number of students seeking mental health support while studying at university has increased by more than 50% in five years.
The outcome of this study indicates that more students are in need of support and are seeking it; the aim of this article and the collaborative work of AUBSU and Student Services is to raise awareness of self-care to provide longevity in support.
In the pressures of juggling life, work, relationships and responsibilities, our own self-care is often the thing that gets squeezed out first, put to the bottom of our to-do list, so perhaps we don’t really understand its importance, just yet!
Self-care and self-worth: They are good friends! Our relationship with self-care is intrinsically linked to our self-worth; that is how we value ourselves, think of ourselves, and look after ourselves. The more you know your worth, the more you will care for yourself, and rather than this being selfish, this will enable you to be at your best and care for others too.
Self-care is good for our health: The Self Care Forum recently launched nationwide Self-Care week to profile its necessity for us, our families and society. Acts of self-care provide a form of protection that helps prevent mental health issues arising. Stuff that’s good for us includes: Varied exercise, maintaining a balanced diet, adequate rest and going to sleep at the same time every night.
Self-care is good for the heart: Our emotional wellness can be improved when we practice self-compassion. Those activities that we love, the end feeling of that clean and tidy bedroom, or maybe it’s a screen-free evening to spend quality time with friends. Sometimes a bit of discipline can go a long way!
Self-care is empowering; whilst we can’t control everything in our lives, we can be empowered by taking actions that we know will impact our lives positively. For many, this might be the liberation of saying NO to the things you know you just can’t fit into your time, or it might be saying YES, I can do that thing for someone else- I can take responsibility for doing this one thing. Learning to take responsibility with good boundaries is key to growth.
You can take small steps to self-care today and be confident you will reap the big benefits.
SELF-CARE: WHAT'S MY NEXT STEP?
Your acts of self-care will be those things that nourish YOU, this might look different to others around you.
We have found some resources that we think you will find useful:
Social Enterprise platform Blurt does a great job sharing free resources and articles to promote awareness and understanding of Self Care, particularly if you are affected by depression.
One of their articles ‘No-Nonsense Self-Care Ideas’ provides those simple steps that will help to get some of this stuff into your life! They also offer a self-care printable planner and starter kit.
If this is something you want to explore further, Jayne Hardy, Founder and CEO of Blurt authors ‘The Self Care Project’ and 365 Days of Self-Care A Journal’.
Self-care isn’t selfish, self-care is essential.
It’s not always easy to address our issues alone, particularly if we are having a tough time. Self-Care is asking for help too!
This article is part of The Small Things Matter, a wider mental health campaign put together by AUBSU and Student Services. If you are concerned about anything mentioned in this article, or anything else for that matter, then get in touch with AUB Student Services. They provide a drop-in wellbeing service from Monday-Friday (10.00-14.00), which offers practical support and a focus on the importance of self-care, when considering our wellbeing needs. A free confidential counseling service is also available to all students.