Updated: Jul 26
Mindfulness, getting out for a walk, yoga and limiting time on Zoom calls have been recommended again and again as the solutions for looking after ourselves.
What if you’ve tried all of these things and you are still not feeling great? Self-care is primarily about change. Sometimes self-care might look like taking a yoga class, and sometimes self-care might involve creating boundaries, being more assertive and holding yourself accountable.
Let’s take these one at a time:
Speak up for yourself – at work ask yourself, is this part of my role? Is there someone else I could delegate this to? It’s ok to push back, if you are continually replying to emails and calls outside of work time you are sending a message to others that it is ok to do this.
Create boundaries – When we lack boundaries, we find ourselves doing things we don’t want to do, taking on too much leaving us feeling exhausted and burnt out. The COVID situation has been waring, without adding the additional stresses and strains of normal family life, often still lived out on top of each other.
Think about what is your responsibility, and what is someone else’s. Be prepared to give back to others what you know, deep down, is theirs. Do you have friends that call just to ‘vent’? No matter what you suggest to help them, they don’t listen. After the call you feel exhausted, and then the pattern repeats. Suggesting that they take their problems elsewhere is not selfish, it is necessary for you to keep a healthy relationship with this person.
Assertiveness – say no! How many of us have had a friend call us, and we feel obliged to answer, often finding ourselves agreeing to zoom calls with friends when we have been online all day. If you find yourself in relationships that are draining, or constantly working out of hours, putting other people first, this can lead to resentment.
Saying no also has another side, do you find yourself saying no to people offering help? When people ask if you are OK do you reply ‘Yes I’m fine’ when you really aren’t. There is nothing wrong with being vulnerable, letting people know how you feel and / or asking for help.
Holding yourself accountable – Make time for you. It is so easy to prioritise others during this time, if you want to learn a new skill, language or hobby, think about what is really getting in the way – and does it have to. Mindfulness is not just about meditation, you can also mindfully complete craft projects, bake or write creatively. Prioritising your own desires goes a long way towards the other three points mentioned above.