Do you have a self care routine? A little space each day for you? We live in this go-go busy world, work harder, do more, social media merry-go-round and sometimes it can be difficult to know how to find time for you.
We know that when women nourish themselves well, eat well and feel cared for they will usually make healthy well grown babies. Yet how can we advise and support women to look after themselves if we can’t practice what we preach?
And where can we find our inner strength and resilience if we are feeling exhausted and depleted?
This is where creating your own self care basket comes in…
I love what I do. In varying ways I have worked with birth for around 20 years and the calling to be with women hasn’t yet subsided. At times it has felt challenged, and I have experienced burn out from the combined effects of stress, both in and out of work, family struggles and demands, feeling bullied, and generally not looking after myself.
It has been a long road to get to a place where I can recognise my own needs, knowing when to slow down, let go or stop completely.
Two years ago I was working as a research midwife, whilst continuing to cover bank shifts in the community. Two of my children needed lots of support due to what was happening around and to them, and I had started having palpitations and anxiety affecting my ability to be on call. I remember the adrenaline coursing through my veins at top speed at even the mere thought of getting a call in the middle of the night. Luckily I was able to self refer for counseling through the occupational health department, and would soon have an opportunity to understand my own situation, and ways I could help myself to come through this.
Being honest with ourselves and what we need for our wellbeing is crucial to being able to practice from a place of strength and integrity.
Over time I have learned what I need to control the feelings of anxiety that were enveloping me, and have been able to return to on calls, attending awesome birthing women at home. Anxiety can destroy your ability to be yourself, but with support – especially in the workplace – and with diligent selfcare we can find ways to reduce, or hopefully eliminate the hold it can have on us.
For me self care has become a habit that I incorporate into my daily schedule, to help me unwind and release the busyness or stresses of the day, and enables me to find that equilibrium of wellbeing in mind, body and spirit. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time. If you can spend time on Facebook you can spend time on you. I get up earlier than everyone else in the house so I have my quiet time in the morning. A cup of tea, a short meditation, write in my journal. At the end of the day I put on my headphones and listen to some meditation music, just before going to sleep. I’ve come to see this time as special and meaningful to me and really value those moments. I tell women it can be listening to music as you drift off to sleep or colouring a mandala book. Switch off the screens and the time appears. I’m not perfect and still learning but these are my top tips.
Yoga is something I always return to. I started some years ago, just with a book and a mat at home. Sometimes I go out to a class, but mostly I follow a simple routine with sun salutations and stretches, and time for balance and stillness. I aim to practice most mornings, probably around 20-30 minutes, but sometimes I’m just too tired and it might not happen. I feel like I’ve managed to create a morning habit that is now part of my life, but on tired days it might be 5 mins or not even at all, but that’s ok. Returning to the habit is the most important thing, a little most days, rather than a lot once a year…
My absolute must on an almost daily basis. This can be something as simple as a guided meditation or stillness, quietening the mind, noticing my breathing.
I’m a vegetarian and follow a whole food plant based diet most of the time. I make time to eat my meals, especially at work, try not to eat on the go and choose healthy homemade alternatives to processed, packaged food. We’ve been transitioning to a plant based diet at home over a few years, and the whole family feels so much more well, and it feels ethically and environmentally the right way for us to go.
A practice I started many years ago…read more here.
Take a water bottle everywhere to stay hydrated – don’t rely on caffeine as it can make any symptoms of stress or anxiety worse.
Rescue remedy – drops in the water bottle – everytime you take a sip you get hint of the remedy and it’s a trigger to remind you that you’re ok.
Handcream to use throughout the day. I use Bodyshop hemp handcream as I love the smell and it reminds me of feeling relaxed, plus the act of massaging your own hands and arms helps to release oxytocin into your body, which is a ‘calm and connection’ hormone.
I carry my own essential oil roll-on perfume created simply and cheaply mxing a carrier oil such as sweet almond, with my favourite oil – ylang-ylang. It’s a great scent to promote relaxation and positivity, and I just love the smell.
Stop, take time to eat a nutritious lunch. Even when it’s mega busy, plan a lunchbreak. Don’t answer the phone. Don’t check emails. Just stop and take a moment to enjoy your food.
Take one minute to breathe deeply. Everyone needs a loo break. One minute can feel like a lifetime when you stop and be present. That’s the Power of Now – to be in the moment, where at that time, nothing else matters; just for a moment.
Why A Basket?
Because I actually have a basket at home that I pop in all my little self care goodies. I can take it around the house, and everything is all in one place to remind me of my daily practice. It contains the latest spiritual guidance or self devlopment book I’m reading, some dark or raw chocolate, my water bottle, handcream, essential oils, daily vitamins, homemade lip balm from a friend, my angel cards (yep, I’m into that too) and my pencil case.
What could you put in your self care basket?
I would love to see your thoughts and ideas. When we have our own daily practice of self care, then it becomes so much more real and honest when we encourage and support women to make that time for themselves and their baby.
Small habits can make a big difference.