February is the month of love and most importantly it’s become the month of selflove thanks to the selfcare movement that is quickly gaining momentum both on and offline. I’m so happy that selfcare has finally been recognised mainstream as a serious topic, especially for mothers and new mothers. I’m fascinated by the variety of selfcare centric businesses and professions that have been created as a result, especially running one myself.
It's disappointing that it’s taken what seems to be an epidemic of postnatal depression, anxiety and overwhelm to make this such an important topic. But none the less there's progress, yet something is still missing.
These challenges have always been there but thankfully it’s now OK to experience and talk about them. It’s ok to admit that we’re struggling, it’s ok to not be ok and it’s such a relief. As mothers in 2018 we’re able to openly talk to others about the challenges of motherhood without feeling judged or isolated if we so choose thanks to a range of great groups and organisations.
We’re able to take time for ourselves with less guilt that we’re failing our children or responsibilities as a Mother thanks to this movement. I’m so glad that I have this opportunity that I wonder what it must have been like for my Mum who had to do all that I’m doing now working and raising two children without taking anytime for herself and without any or considerably less support than I have now.
With all the talk, activity and events around self love taking place, it does feel as though there’s something missing and that’s the importance of knowing ourselves well enough to look after ourselves properly. Without knowing ourselves well, how do we know what’s right for us and what we truly need?
Many of the blogs and articles about selfcare seem to only scratch the surface, which I know I’ve been guilty of myself at times.
It’s easy to look at the more obvious side of selfcare such as beauty treatments and baths as the main selfcare solution. It's so easy to do if you don’t usually have the chance to enjoy the simple things especially when the simple choices often provide quick fixes that make a BIG difference in how we feel and our energy levels. and so seem like the best fixes. But the simpler selfcare solutions often don’t help us to figure out what we truly need, most of all over and above the quick fix that we're looking for.
I’m often drawn to making sure that I give myself what I want sometimes at the expense of what I need. For example, I want time alone to recharge but what I really need is time to reflect on what’s causing me to feel frazzled and run down.
Is it just that the kids are demanding and I’m losing my patience or is it that there are other things going on that are leaving me and lead me to lose my patience? Then again, am I losing my patience because I’m in a negative environment that I need to remove myself from? So many questions, that aren't often asked.
I want space but I actually need time to think and figure out what’s going on. I want to escape and forget about it all but I need to pause for a moment and breathe.
The question that often isn’t being asked is, how can we look after ourselves without knowing what we really need?
So how do we figure out what we need? There are 4 questions that I find really help to make my needs clear.
1.What are you thinking?
I’m not a negative person but find that when my words and thoughts are more negative than usual I look at what I’m doing. Take a moment and think about whether you’re voicing negative thoughts that are reflecting concerns that you have? If so, it’s good to take some time to identify and deal with them.
Yes, this can take a while, but it helps to be aware of the pattern and start to look at the various causes instead of spiralling into further negativity.
2. How are you feeling?
Do you feel energised or lethargic? Have you looked at your diet or is the lack of energy likely to be something is weighing on your mind or bubbling in the background that you’re not dealing with.
More often that not I find that I may not be as energised as I’d like because I’m not doing what I should be doing, there’s a mismatch somewhere which leads me nicely onto….
3. What choices are you making?
Are you making choices that reflect what’s important to you and reflective of your values. This may sound a bit full of it, but I’ve noticed that I often don’t feel good because I’ve made a choice that isn’t quite in line with what I believe or expect of myself.
Yes, this can be a self- shaming cycle but it’s also important to recognise when and where we could do better so that we pull our fingers out and either fix it or recognise it and move on accepting the mistake with the intention to do our best and not to make the same choice again. This can be a challenge bearing in mind we’re all work in progress but has really helped me stay on an even keel when the proverbial has hit the fan.
4. What are you doing?
Don’t laugh, I know it’s the ultimate question we often ask ourselves in disgust or incredulously but it’s also a great question to ask to get a sense of what can happen. Ultimately, is what I’m doing going to be good for me or am I taking the easy way out for an easy life? If I’m taking the easy option which isn’t the right option I’m not looking after myself.
This really helps me to make decisions or to remind me where I’ve previously made bad choices because I’m so over learning the same lesson the hard way AGAIN. More importantly, l don’t have the time or inclination to faff around repeating mistakes because every second is precious. I used to be someone who felt I had to make decisions with conviction and quite quickly but I’ve learned that actually there’s usually no rush to make most decisions other than that split second Mum decision to catch or clean up!
So, there you have it, 4 questions that have really helped me through and brought a sense of calm to my life, helping me to figure out what I really need which can help you to do the same. I’d love to know what you think and whether there are questions you often ask yourself to check in.