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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Armstrong

Self-Care

Self-care. We hear about it every day but how many of us are doing it? In this week’s blog I aim to share my own story on the journey to self-care and how I aim to keep it as a part of my life.


For quite some time I saw self-care as something other people did but never considered it as something I also needed to actively participate in. For many years my main priorities were my family and my work – essentially the ‘essential’ things in life and I didn’t consider myself a priority.


In 2019 after 5 years of trying to become pregnant I eventually gave birth to my daughter and although this should have been a joyous occasion, I struggled for over a year with post-natal depression. Looking back on that time now I remember it being one of the most difficult periods in my life and I think a lack of self-care practices not only contributed to the post-natal depression but also rescued me from it once they were established.

Everything changed one late autumn morning whilst my 6-month-old daughter was sat in her bouncer seat, and I was sat next to her drinking another cold cup of coffee after another horrendous night’s sleep as the autumn sun trickled through the window highlighting the bags under my eyes. I clicked on a YouTube video about self-care and suddenly something clicked. The lady on the video talked about having a self-care box at the side of the bed with things in it like hand cream, lip balm and a journal, but most importantly she said to never put a lid on the box, or you wouldn’t end up using the items.

Suddenly I had a “light bulb moment”. For the first 6 months of my daughter’s life, I couldn’t identify what was keeping me in this cycle of low mood and I assumed that I was destined to stay caught up in this loop forever. But then I realised that since becoming a mother I had put the ‘lid’ on the metaphorical box that contained everything in my life that made me – me.


I had stopped wearing my favourite perfume in case the baby didn’t recognise my smell and I laid awake at night anxious that she would cry instead of reading my favourite book. I avoided going out because my baby had colic and would often cry and I worried what others would think so I stopped walking in the woods near my home, and even though I had my husband to support me I stopped going to the gym in case anyone ‘needed me’.


By not building self-care into my life as a new mum it meant I was frequently becoming overwhelmed with my responsibilities.


Once I started to put self-care into my routine, it didn’t cure my post-natal depression, but I definitely felt happier. I had avoided looking after myself because I wanted to be the best mother that I could and give all my time to my daughter but what I discovered was that caring for my own needs helped me to become a better person for those around me.


Self-care is not something that is only needed following a dip in mental health, it is needed as a constant in your life to maintain positive mental health in the first place.


Maintaining regular self-care in my life now helps me to help those around me and has been life changing in terms of my mental health. A good friend told me recently that she has learnt to metaphorically ‘Fill up her own orange juice jug first before she fills up the glasses of her friends.” And I for one would raise a glass to that.


Often social media leads us to think that self-care has to be expensive like visiting a spa or going on an expensive holiday, but self-care doesn’t have to be expensive. It could be as simple as:


Taking a hot bubble bath

Going for a relaxing nature walk

Doing something creative

Spending time reading a book under a blanket on a rainy day

Keeping a gratitude journal

Exercising

Having a coffee with a friend

Cooking a new recipe


I hope you find a self-care method that works for you and can be part of your daily of weekly routine to maintain good mental health. Always remember to consider your own needs too in order to be able to take good care of those around you.


Wellbeing wishes,


Rebecca,


CBT Therapist/Director

Littlemoor Therapy Practice



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