Something that I have learned about myself during my lowest periods is that caring for myself is not something that always comes naturally.
For a very long time I looked after myself, ate well, didn’t drink or smoke, went to the gym and stayed away from drugs. I never really thought about it, I just did it, it was easy to say no and I felt fantastic.
How well I cared for myself is linked to how much I value myself. When I feel like a good person I take care of myself and when I feel like a bad person I treat my self the way I think I deserve.
When I talk about caring for myself I mean actively recognising the things that are toxic in my day to day life and then taking action to avoid or eliminate them whether they are people, thoughts, food, whatever. It also means making time for the things that genuinely add to my happiness, good food, real friends, adventures and keeping fit.
Caring for yourself is something that you need to think about every day and you need to be deliberate in the way you go about it. It’s more than just waking up and deciding to eat better or exercise more. Caring about yourself means
- Recognising the negative influences in your life and letting them go. Whether they are people, substances or negative thoughts. It won’t be easy, some of them are pretty serious demons that will require more than champion talk. Deciding to see a psychiatrist made a big difference for me but caring enough about myself to finally admit I needed help was not easy.
- Be mindful in the moment of your thoughts and actions. You know deep down when you are hurting. You may not understand why but the pain is there. Don’t hide from it acknowledge it and choose not to allow it to overwhelm you.
The more mindful I am the better I am able to recognise when I’m not caring for myself and make an effort to change my behaviour or my thinking. It’s not easy but the more that I do it the better I get.