A short while ago I went to a conference at the Sudima Hotel near Auckland airport (a little bit fancy, but lots of parking - the ideal combination!).
I went to a fascinating session on Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) presented by Neuropsychologist Esther Yong, who talked about all the ways that personality and various other factors can affect symptom reporting, and recovery. It makes sense doesn't it? That the way you generally approach life might have some bearing on how you experience your symptoms. She talked about the people who tend to 'push through', and 'ignore' pain, who then often end up not being able to recognise their body's messages, (take a look at this post for more on that!) and those who already experience any kind of discomfort as very unpleasant perhaps doing the opposite.
Another thing she talked about was how people with well established positive health behaviours tend to recover faster. That's what I wanted to talk more about in this post - self-care.
It was also the topic of a specific presentation I went to the same day - presented by psychologist Vania Miteva, it was about therapist self-care, and how we can make sure we stay healthy and well, despite demanding times.
That led me to think about self-care for the 'average' person. You might not have an injury or be a therapist, but how do you take care of yourself so that you're able to weather the more stressful circumstances? The term 'self-care' may invoke some thoughts of 'wishy washy' or 'hippy' practices but really it includes any intentional actions you take to care for your physical, mental and emotional health. It includes checking in with yourself to be aware of how you are in each moment so you know when to increase self-care - before it's too late! Self-care often goes out the window for people when they're stressed, as people feel that they can’t afford the time. However it is essential to prioritise it as good self-care reduces stress and anxiety and increases energy and concentration.
So what delicious and nutritious things do you fuel your body with? What hobby do you practice to give yourself some me-time, a mental challenge/feeling of mastery, some relaxation, or just a bit of a change? How do you move your body? How much time do you get a week to really relax, without thoughts of a thousand things you feel you should be doing?
And a good reminder: Self-care is not a one-time deal to do once and tick off your list. It is the constant repetition of many tiny habits which combined will keep you at your optimum - emotionally, physically and mentally.
What are you going to do for your self-care today?