Why start with the basics of self-care?
When I entered the rooms of Al-anon for the first time someone mentioned looking after me. I, as a co-dependent thought they were mad. As you can imagine, like all good co-dependents that came before and after me, I always put myself last. I’d take care of my own needs when I’d taken care of everyone else’s. Of course 99.9% of the time I didn’t even make it to the end of my ‘helping others’ list every day. So, as a result, I never learned how to take care of myself. At that moment I knew I needed to go back to learn the basics of self-care.
As a parent of five, I’d learnt to keep running around like most mothers with good intentions. So much so, that I forgot how to take care of myself first. Most parents are now saying: ‘What take care of you first? Are you mad? The child comes first!’ Well, yes you are responsible for the wellbeing of your children as they grow up, but think of it in other terms. It’s like they tell you on the plane, put your own oxygen mask on first, because you can’t help anyone else until you do.
The basic list
So what’s that got to do with the basics of self-care? Most co-dependents don’t do the basics of self-care even.
I mean the basics as in:
- Sleep 8 hours every night or try to.
- Eat regular meals daily
- Drink water daily – cut back on caffeine. I know caffeine is the staple of every busy person but you’ll feel and sleep better too.
- Exercise 30 minutes; 5 days a week: I know, break it up into either 10-minute intervals or combine it with a hobby to make it more fun.
- Shower regularly
- Dress the best you can, every day. Something that helps you feel good. Not what others say you should be wearing.
- Wash your clothes every week
- Pray/meditate daily
- Journal: include some things you’re grateful for – daily
- Take time for your own interests and hobbies – it’s ok to do this
- Meetup with friends and family – only if they are supporting you. No negative vampires need apply.
- Parents, take time out to be a couple every week, it doesn’t mean it has to cost anything
- Ask for help – speak to a professional if necessary, your doctor could be your first port of call.
- Have regular check-ups: Doctor and dentist appointments.
- Attend therapy, recovery groups: if needed weekly
- Use appropriate self-soothing techniques instead of using alcohol, drugs, food etc. Self-soothing techniques are good habits, so use these to replace bad ones, or introduce them while trying to quit bad habits. You can find a list of these starting here
Want a Basic Self-care Reminder Checklist? Check out our free resources it comes in 10 colours for your planner or put it up on the fridge to remind the family too.
This is not a lecture, but a piece of advice I received and found very helpful during my dark days.
I’m not going to lecture you and tell you, you have to do all of the above. But you’ll know who you are, you’re most likely be a co-dependent, parent or caretaker who looks after everyone else but not yourself. You’re probably the one everyone else comes to in a crisis. Well if you aren’t doing the very basics of self-care for yourself and you treat everyone else’s needs first as if you don’t matter, then I ask you when will you matter and to whom? You have to start looking after yourself and learning to say NO. No is a full sentence and a full statement. It doesn’t require explanation. You don’t need to explain to anyone why you are looking after yourself. They shouldn’t even ask you that question.
So if like me, you find yourself feeling stressed, anxious, dishevelled or just need to rebalance yourself and learn some self-care technique basics. Why don’t you schedule some time for yourself on a daily basis and make sure you are doing all of the above.
For help and support call me on +353 894373641
I have a book which helps people deal with self-care; from learning mindfulness, improving sleep, changing negative self-talk into more positive self-talk and more. You will find it here
I talk about self-care on my YOUTUBE channel here
Al-anon is a support group for family and friends of alcoholics, based on the 12 steps program.