This is my meditation space. A small corner of my garden where I've created a sanctuary for myself: a place to hide behind my billowing silk banners that is part refuge, part cosy nest. If you've read my free ebooklet Beautiful Self-Care for the Wild Creative, you'll know that meditation is one of the tools I use to care for myself. It's taken me a long time to figure out what supports me and what kind of self-care I need. For me, it has to be gentle, it must be rooted in the earth somehow and it needs to fit in with my busy life. But this may not work for you. Meditation, slow breathing, herbal tea - they may all sound like torture! You may need to lift some heavy weights in the gym to get rid of your stress, or run 20 miles, or sing your heart out to a musical soundtrack, or clean the house from top to bottom (that's definitely NOT on my list!), or hang from a trapeze.
WHAT you do is not important. It's just vital that you DO something and that you create your own little bag of tools to reach for when life gets tough. If you struggle to know what really supports you, then you're going to have some fun experimenting! Here are my suggestions on how you can craft a self-care daily practice, and if you're the type who loves a pretty worksheet to fill in, click HERE, I've created one just for you.
Set an intention for your day. Make a promise to yourself that you'll set some time aside to focus on one element of self-care. Think about where you need support the most, this could be your physical or mental well being, relationships or work, then select a word of intention that will set the tone for your day. If you enjoy writing, you could also journal around this word throughout the day.
Begin your day with a positive mantra or affirmation inspired by your intention word. Acknowledge where you are now and speak to yourself with a loving voice. For example, if your self-care is focused on your physical body, your affirmation could start with, "I love my body." Don't dwell on negatives - you won't take beautiful care of anything for which you don't have good feelings - focus on the positives, however small or insignificant they may seem.
Having made a promise to yourself through your intention and put your brain into a positive gear with an affirmation, it's now time to invite yourself to take action. Be realistic about what you are able to achieve: many self-care practices fall down because we set unrealistic expectations for ourselves - "Yeah, I'm going to yoga every day for a month!" or "I'm gonna book myself into that really expensive spa that's 100 miles away". Your daily self-care bag MUST contain tools that are easily accessible, achievable and manageable within the constraints of your everyday life. Ten minutes of yoga every day is better than a one month intensive and then doing nothing the rest of the year. Yes, a spa weekend is a wonderful treat, but treats are by their very nature, an irregular occurrence. Better to get your partner to give you a foot massage every week or to take a luxurious shower with gorgeous essential oils every evening. When it comes to self-care, think small, think often.
This is something we don't do enough: we simply do not take the time to acknowledge what we've achieved and to say thank you to ourselves, others, the universe/spirit/God/Mother Earth (whatever higher power you believe in). But this is what closes the loop, this completes the circle of self-care and sets us up for starting again the next day. I know at the end of the day you are tired and just want to crawl into bed, but before you drift into peaceful sleep just take a moment to say "This was a good day. I looked after myself by............and I'm thankful for..............." Without the evening appreciation, we deny our brains the reward - it's the final dopamine rush of the day!
If you want to see examples of the four elements of self-care, then pop your email into my sign up form and I'll send you a free copy of my little ebook "Beautiful Self-Care for the Wild Creative" - it won't be free for long so grab it now!