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By Ed Lamba, Life Coach

‘Kindness’ is a real buzzword. But whilst we do our very best to act with kindness towards others, we can often overlook ourselves.  The love for our families and friends and commitment to our jobs, clients or communities are fundamental to who we are, but where to draw the line between serving others out of passion, and exhausting ourselves by continuously trying to pour from an empty cup?

What is Self-Care?

Self-care is not about neglecting others to suit ourselves, or about reckless indulgence.  It’s about recognising that as well as being parents, partners, siblings, managers, employees and the myriad of other roles we might play on a daily basis, we are also unique individuals with our own set of perfectly valid needs. 

How to bring more Self-Care to your life?

1. Own Your Joy

What do you REALLY love doing? If you’re stuck for ideas, think back to a time when life was less ‘busy’ and try to remember your passions, big and small. The point is to discover joys that are completely authentic to you, and to find ways of bringing them into your life. Yoga, beaches and dinners with friends are obvious examples (and ones close to my heart)- but if reading comic books, binge watching history documentaries or doing jigsaws bring you contentment and make your heart sing- own it! Self-care is about fully and unashamedly embracing You.

2. Bliss Points

The next step is to actively schedule joy into your day. OK, using my examples we can’t get to a yoga class every day and finding a beach in Queen’s Park is optimistic- but we can take 5 minutes for a few nourishing stretches or spend a little time researching our next getaway. If you have a meditation practice, just two minutes sitting and observing the breath is a great way to come back to yourself. If you’d like to start, there are some excellent short guided meditation videos on YouTube. Build in Bliss Points every couple of hours- a favourite hot drink, a chapter of a new book, five minutes drooling over Interiors boards on Pinterest (*guilty) – anything that helps create a mindset that joy is an instantly accessible emotion, and something we all deserve to feel regularly, no matter what kind of day we’re having.

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3. Set boundaries and learn to say ‘no’

All too often we say ‘yes’ at the expense of our own time and energy. Creating clear boundaries can be intimidating, especially for us born people-pleasers who would do pretty much anything to avoid confrontation!

But here’s the thing, when you have clear boundaries, people actually respect you more. Next time you feel drained, taken advantage of or disrespected after saying ‘yes’ to a request, gently note how you would like to feel instead and ask yourself what you would need to say to create that feeling. 

Remember that ‘no’ can be a complete sentence. 

If that feels too scary to begin with, try buying yourself time before saying ‘yes’ in order to compose your response. “I’ll get back to you tomorrow” is perfectly reasonable. You can also offer a compromise rather than a direct ‘no’. “Yes I’ll pick you up from the airport, but can you drive us to the cinema next week?”, “I can’t help with your homework right now but do as much as you can for an hour and then we’ll look at it together”, or “I won’t be able to do that for you but I can really recommend looking at X website or hiring Y person for that”- are all ways of protecting your boundaries whilst still being kind and also empowering the other person to help themselves.

4. Let go of Perfectionism
In our hectic worlds, we can feel pressured to be perfect parents, friends, colleagues, partners, and often all at once. Acknowledge that there is a real difference between wanting to do your best and using perfectionism as a stick to beat yourself up with. Try talking to yourself as kindly as you would to your best friend, ask yourself if ‘done’ would be better than ‘perfect’ sometimes, embrace failures as learning opportunities, and recognise that you are way more than just the sum of everything you have or have not achieved in your life.

Comparing ourselves to others is a fast-track ticket to disappointment.  Remember that everyone started somewhere, everyone is at a different stage and everyone works from their own set of values. Your uniqueness and authenticity are what people love about you, not how far you fit a certain standard. 

5. Big Yourself Up!

Often we’re very quick to dwell on the slightest unimportant criticism, and even quicker to dismiss heart-felt compliments. Retrain your mind to embrace compliments by writing down any you receive for a week. Notice how you feel when you’re thanked for giving advice, when your boss or a client praises you for a job well done, when someone admires something you wear or create. Learn to accept that people mean these things when they say them, and build up your self-care-bank!

6. Reach out for help

You were not meant to do all this alone! Helping people brings you joy; what makes you think others wouldn’t get that same sense of joy from helping you? Make a list of the things you love doing and those things that always seem to zap your energy, fill you with dread or take way longer than expected. Consider outsourcing these things (hire someone to do the ironing, ask a finance-savvy friend to help with your accounts, invest in Marketing support for your business) to free up your time to do more of the things you enjoy and can really add value to. 

Remember that self-care is not being selfish. It’s about cultivating a kindness towards ourselves that enables us to serve those we love and care about authentically.

Ed Lamba is a Life Coach based in NW6. His aim is to empower his clients to stop tolerating and start living life as their best selves. You can connect with him on Instagram at edlamba_lifecoaching_nw6 and through his website and blog www.edlamba.com for more Life Coaching tips and articles. 

 

 

 

 

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