Kathryn Says- How Do You Practice Self Care?

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Kathryn is 42 years old and mother to 3-year-old Grace. She lives with autoimmune conditions, fibromyalgia, Me/CFS and recovering from breast cancer. Kathryn’s parents live in an annex on her house so they are on hand to help a lot due to Kathryn’s health issues.



 

How do you practice self-care?

By Kathryn Says



Self-care is a term we hear banded about all the time. The practice itself is good and something we should all be developing and taking heed of, however what does self-care actually mean and just how do we develop a healthy way of caring for ourselves? When talking about self-care the first thing most people will think is treating themselves to a massage or a hot bath. These types of treats are wonderful but there’s so much more to self-care. We need to establish our boundaries, learn to love ourselves and be happy to put ourselves first without feeling selfish. This is very hard when you have kids. Self-care is a life time practice and it needs to be sustainable.


I used to be terrible at self-care. I like to think I’ve got better at it because my health has screamed at me and given me little choice, but I am certainly far from having perfected it!

There are some activities I need in my life for my self-care but I still can’t manage for the moment; for example, regular alone time in nature and around ponies really lift my mental health. I crave this time but I very rarely have the opportunity to get it, and even when I plan it, I regularly have to cancel because I am too fatigued to manage the drive. That doesn’t mean I won’t stop trying or scheduling that time in my diary in the hope that I can make it as it is an invaluable tool to my healing and state of mind when I do manage it.

Here are some examples of the self-care I now practice and some tips that might help you:


Private and together ‘time out’

Two times a week my mum will get up early with my daughter so I get a morning lay-in and time to have a relaxing hot bath with Epsom salts and essential oils. I might also read a bit in the bath, do a meditation or listen to Audible.

My partner and I alternate who puts Grace to bed so we both have evenings when 7pm comes and we can just relax. This is wonderful as for the first 2.5 years of Grace’s life I’ve put her to bed, as I was the only one who had the boobies to feed her to sleep and I would also be up at the crack of dawn with her 99% of the time. When I'm flaring badly my partner will do all bedtimes.


Set boundaries

If I don’t want to do something I tend not to because my energy needs to be saved for what’s important. In the past I would have done things I didn’t necessarily enjoy because I didn’t want to put others out or upset them by saying no. Don’t feel bad about saying ‘no’ to extra commitments you don’t want to do, or don’t have time for. If you are having an uncomfortable conversation with someone, say so, and that you don’t want to continue. If you need time to give someone an answer, take all the time you need. Don’t be pressurised or be afraid to tell people you won’t be discussing things further if you don’t want to.


Make lists

I love a good list so I don’t forget things and it means I can keep track of what still needs doing. I may have a list at the beginning of the week with high hopes of completing the actions, but come the end of the week, only one thing may be crossed off and that’s fine! Don’t be afraid to limit your to-do list if it doesn’t feel feasible and prioritise what is most important to you.


Listen to my body

My body talks to me all the time and is very quick to tell me when I am starting to overdo it. The sore throat and ringing ears and heavy feelings in my body start slowly but soon scream! I’ve learned to check in regularly throughout the day and recognise when to call it quits rather than push on and regret it. If I push on, I will end up stuck in bed.

On occasion, life doesn’t allow me to listen fully because there are things I have to do. This happened recently when I had to push myself to try and start back at work. This situation resulted in me feeling very ill and sick come one Friday afternoon and I spent the weekend in bed feeling envious of my partner going out and having fun with Grace. This is why pacing myself and listening to my body is so important and if I don’t, I can’t be there for anyone else and I want to be there for Grace. I was off work a further five months following that attempt to return to work and now I’m finally trying to go back on reduced hours but I have found myself in bed and off sick yet again. I could have pushed and tried today, there was a time when I would have, but my health is too important and I'm putting my self-care in place.


Stand up for my beliefs

I used to just agree with everyone else, only liked what was popular and didn’t voice my opinion as I feared confrontation, being ridiculed and was a bit of a people pleaser. No more! I am who I am, and I believe what I believe. I am a more authentic person for this. As a result, I have found amazing friends who are just as authentic and discovered how great friendships really can be when everyone is just their true beautiful selves!


Reiki Healing.

I discovered Reiki and healing when I was at a very low point in my life due to my health. Reiki turned my life around. I learned all three levels of Reiki, did 2 years learning horse healing and took other courses in animal healing, animal communication, crystal healing and a year-long shamanic development course. This way of being is what helped me to realise what I needed for self-care, combined with practicing mindfulness it has taught me how to listen to my body. In addition, I met the most amazing people.