Practising good self-care alongside professional counselling can be really beneficial, but if you’re not quite sure what it is, why it’s important or how to do it, then read on as we explain all of that and give you some practical self-care ideas.
Recovering from abuse, trauma or grief, or overcoming anxiety or depression can be a long journey, and it’s personal to everyone who goes through it. Whilst professional support can help guide you along the path, there are steps you can take yourself to make the road a little less bumpy.
What does self-care mean?
The term self-care refers to steps you can take in order to look after yourself, physically, mentally and emotionally. These steps can aid in your recovery and overall wellbeing.
Whilst ‘me-time’ is important, self-care is more than that. It’s about planning and taking deliberate action to ensure you are looking after yourself and have good health, especially emotional health.
It’s important that you understand that self-care isn’t selfish. If you don’t take enough care of yourself, you won’t be in a good position to take care of others. Just like when on a flight, you’re told to put your own oxygen mask on first in order to be able to help others.
Why should I practice self-care?
Self-care literally means to take care of yourself, and this can be empowering – especially for those who are feeling lost or not in control of what’s happening (or something that happened) in their life.
Self-care can also have a positive effect on your physical, mental and emotional health.
When you first start implementing good self-care, you will have to take deliberate action, but these little steps can become habits if you practice them repeatedly over time. And building these sorts of habits in your life will help you stay resilient.
There are loads of steps you can take to look after yourself, but to get you started we’ve put together a handy list of self-care ideas.
Self-care can mean having more alone time or doing more socialising. It can be doing exercise or taking time to rest. It can be creative or passive. Try some of the 47 self-care ideas below and see what works well for you:
- Snuggle up on the sofa with a book or magazine
- Take a relaxing bath
- Go for a walk in nature
- Take up regular exercise – at home, in a gym or outdoors
- Take up a sport
- Join a local walking group – ask your GP surgery about local health walks, or find a Ramblers group near you
- Try yoga – at home or a class
- Try laughter yoga (yes, it’s a thing!)
- Download a meditation app – try Calm or Headspace
- Colour, paint, draw or do something else creative
- Write or journal (no one ever needs to read it if you want it to remain private)
- Take up a new hobby or revisit an old one
- Cook from scratch – this can be therapeutic and help nourish your body
- Buy a new cookbook for inspiration
- Socialise with friends
- Spend time with family, and make an effort to see those you don’t see often
- Find new groups or events on Meetup
- Attend an acting or improv comedy workshop
- Watch a play or stand up comedy at your local theatre
- Go see a movie – alone or with a friend
- Have a duvet day every few months and binge watch your favourite Netflix series
- Put on your favourite song/playlist/radio station and dance
- Sign up to a course and learn something new
- Buy some flowers – you don’t need to wait for them as a gift from someone else
- Say no to things you don’t want to do – put your needs ahead of others’
- Have an early night or a lie-in
- Get enough sleep on a regular basis (it’s essential to health and wellbeing!)
- Drink more water
- Skip the alcohol – you don’t need to drink every evening, or every time you go out for a meal
- Avoid drugs – if you’re using drugs to cope with your feelings, reach out for help, we’re here for you
- Explore new places nearby or take time to travel
- Take a different route to work – it’s surprisingly refreshing
- Turn off your phone (or put it on airplane mode) for an afternoon
- Try device-free Sundays
- Start a jigsaw
- Play a board game with someone
- Phone an old friend for a catch up
- Write a letter to an old friend, or send them a postcard
- Write a letter to your younger self
- Diffuse some invigorating or relaxing essential oils
- Declutter and organise things at home – tidy space, tidy mind
- Have a spa day – at a spa or at home with a face mask and some bubbles
- Moisturise – and take your time to massage your body
- Use your favourite scent or perfume every day – don’t keep it for best
- Wear your favourite underwear – that isn’t just for best either!
- Throw away any worn-out underwear or clothes (send to a clothing bank where possible)
- Make up the bed with fresh sheets and wear your comfiest pyjamas
You can even combine actions, ie taking up a sport would combine exercise and socialising. You could colour, paint or draw at home for some quiet time, or join a class for more social interaction.
Think about what your needs are and how you could meet them in a positive way, and don’t underestimate the joy both quiet time and human connection can bring.
Do I need still counselling?
Self-care is a useful addition to your counselling, rather than a replacement, so we suggest you do them both and don’t end your counselling sessions until you’re completely ready.
If you feel like something is holding you back from relaxing or socialising you may need to talk through your thoughts with a trained professional. If you’re not a current client and feel that you need some extra support, we offer professional counselling within a safe space. Contact Liz for an informal chat.