Caring for ourselves: Psychological self-care in women


What exactly is self-care? Self-care is the process of tuning into yourself, determining what it is that you are needing and providing exactly that for yourself. Basically the stuff we are all generally notoriously bad at!


Why women?

Of course, self-care is necessary for all individuals of any age but in this post I will be focusing on women. Women are often the worst at self-care, neglecting themselves as though there was a medal for self-sacrifice up for grabs J Are we entirely to blame however when society seems to teach us to be the carers and nurturers, often to our own detriment, from the time they can stick a baby doll in our arms? Of course not. BUT we do need to take responsibility for what we do and don’t allow in our lives and you can start today with these self-care tips.


What is self-care?

Let’s first start with fleshing out this self-care concept a bit more. Self-care:= is essentially whatever replenishes you, fills you up, or restores you. This does not have to be the stereotypical idea of “me-time”, such as going to a spa or shopping, especially as these kinds of activities are often not what appeals to many or might be inaccessible due to tie and/or money constraints. In fact, self-care activities can be small things like a 10 minute rest with a cup of tea, listening to your favourite inspirational or spiritual speaker, tending to your little garden, or a 15 minute chat with a friend who uplifts you. Self-care, most of all, however an approach to yourself, an approach of self-compassion, patience, and tenderness.


Lastly, self-care is the constant act of staying attuned to your physical, emotional and mental needs, the same way you might to your child. For example noticing irritability in a young child especially, you might do a little mental check-list and realise, “Goodness, he hasn’t eaten in a while. His blood sugar levels are probably making him grumpy.” Or, “oh, that’s right, my baby hasn’t slept yet today and that is why she is so crabby…” Although we often like to dismiss ourselves and our needs w=once we become adults and take of the caring functions in our families, we are human beings too! And all of the usual stuff applies to us too.


Self-care is often mistaken as selfishness, unnecessary, indulgent, frivolous and is therefore often the first thing to be cut out, compromised on or perhaps never even considered.


Why is self-care important?

So, why exactly is self-care important other than everything I have just mentioned? Well, often women will state they simply don’t have the time and/or energy because they are so busy looking after everyone else. My argument always is though that even if you care far more for your loved ones and feel that caring for yourself is selfishness, know that it is the ultimate act of caring for your loved ones to care for yourself. One cannot pour from an empty cup after all. An analogy often used to explain this concept is the one of the oxygen mask. When you are on an aeroplane flight, the flight attendants will always tell you that, in the evet of an emergency, you are first to secure your own oxygen mask before helping others. The reason for this is that, in the process of trying to help dependents with their masks, you will most likely pass out from lack of oxygen yourself. This oft-used analogy powerfully explains the concept of not being able to help anyone else unless you help yourself first.


It is therefore the ultimate act of caring for others to ensure you have enough of what it is you need in your life in order to be able to give of your time, energy, care and love to them. You will be a more loving, patient, and kind mother, wife, daughter, friend, etc. if you have filled your tank first.


How to know when you are in need of self-care

The first signs that you need to be paying attention to your needs more are that you are feeling irritable and unloving, impatient, fatigued, and generally low in mood. More concerning warning signs include regular tearfulness, deep sadness, having difficulty concentrating and focusing, fits of rage or constant arguing with loved ones.


Stop everything, begin to see the wood for the trees and do something to look after yourself today.

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