Self care: baby steps

How are you, love?

Because it matters. 
How you feel truly, honestly, absolutely matters. And I doubt you ask yourself that question enough.

... We can get so busy worrying about what everyone else is feeling, needing, doing, thinking, that we don’t pause and ask - What about me? How am I actually doing? What do I need?

It’s easier to stop and notice when we feel good. We feel joy, we feel connected, we feel confident, rested, alive.

But sometimes we’ll notice that we don't. In fact, we feel scared, frustrated, sad or overwhelmed. Because sometimes life is really difficult.

Maybe that’s another reason why we don’t stop to ask. Because if we notice that we’re not feeling great - it’s out there. It’s harder to deny. It’s harder to just keep going about our business pretending that we’re OK. And if we can’t deny it, ultimately we have to face it.

Which means we probably have to sit with all those difficult feelings for a while. Which is uncomfortable at best. And then, we have to make changes. We have to move our needs up the list. We have to look after ourselves better.

Denying our feelings, our needs, isn't really an option. It all catches up with us in the end. So, please, do take a moment - and give us both a real answer to the question. 

If you’re feeling low, like you’re not enough, like you don’t have what you need to move forward right now, I want to remind you that you’ve made it this far. And that help is out there - please ask for it. And I want to remind you to take care of yourself - because you are vitally important. And loved. And appreciated - more than you know.

In fact, even if you’re reading this and feeling perfectly fine - magnificently adequate even - the same words apply. You still get to take care of yourself. Your needs still matter, even on a good day.

This is where looking after yourself starts. With something that seems so simple - pausing to ask yourself how you’re feeling. And then asking yourself how you would actually like to feel. And then, “what could I do to move myself closer to that, right now?” That’s self care. Knowing how you feel and what you need. Then giving yourself that when you need it.

It sounds easy enough. But of course, it isn’t always easy to name what you’re feeling. That only comes with practice - it’s why I have endless conversations with my kids about their own feelings... Is it fear or excitement? Is it anger or regret? Is it sadness or loneliness? Where can you feel that in your body? What does frustration feel like? Because unless you’ve spent time getting to know how your particular emotions show up, it can take a while to really understand what’s going on behind the more obvious feelings like anger and sadness.

Brené Brown uses the image of an iceberg to illustrate the difference between the behaviour or feelings we can see on the surface and those underneath (this image often saves me when the kids are in the midst of meltdown - as I desperately remind myself to look under the water to see what’s really going on…)

Start by being curious about what's underneath your own iceberg. And go gently.

The good news is - once you've got clear about how you’re feeling, the next question might become a little easier. Often, how you want to feel is simply the opposite... To start with, most of us would probably answer ‘happy’. Happy is another one of those catch-all emotions, another iceberg tip. To really deliver what we need, we need to look beneath ‘happy’. We need to understand what our own particular 'happy' is made of - is it about feeling revitalised, connected, hopeful, relaxed, safe or something else?

Then, once you know how you feel - and how you want to feel - comes the ultimate trial and error question: what helps you to move from one feeling to the other? You probably know lots of things already that help you to feel better - maybe that's time with friends, getting outside, running, journalling, singing - it's different for each of us.  And - this part of the process is also about allowing ourselves the time we need to explore - to try different things - to find other ways that might move us towards how we want to feel.It’s only by allowing ourselves the time we need to explore - to try different things - that allows us to discover what makes us feel the way we want to feel.

By doing that, over the years, I've discovered that for me, yoga helps, dancing helps, getting off my phone helps. Along with eating good food, getting into nature, watching cheesy rom coms with friends, or spending time along in the quiet...

I only discovered winter sea swimming a couple of years ago - and that takes me the closest of all to my current definiteion of 'happy'. To find that, I kept asking myself what I needed, and making time for that - allowing myself to try new things. I believed that how I felt mattered enough.

I'm finally at the stage when a sea swim, just for me, every day, doesn’t bring me any guilt or make me feel selfish. When I can keep a morning free of meetings so that I don't miss my weekly yoga class. Scheduled things for me, are relatively easy now - in a way they weren’t in the beginning. It’s all the bits in between that are hard…! Even after spending much of the last ten years bringing positive self care into my life - and the lives of others - I still need to remind myself daily to pause and check in. Self care is a constant journey - of learning what helps (because that changes too), and learning how to ask for help. These days, when I’m exhausted and/or emotional, I know it’s OK to tell my family that I need a rest - they’ll survive. And I’ll come back stronger.

If this all sounds too much right now, start small. Think only about the next five minutes.
- How are you feeling?

- How do you want to feel?

- What small step could you take right now to move you closer to how you want to feel?

You might answer that you’re feeling tired. You want to feel energised. ...You could put your legs up the wall, go for a walk round the block, do some deep breathing, or put on a song that always makes you want to dance.
Or maybe you notice that you’re feeling anxious. And you want to feel calmer. ...You could listen to a short guided meditation, shift your focus by drawing a Sea Soul Blessing card or sitting mindfully for a few moments, or reach out to a friend for support.

Mothering is hard - along with all the other things we have to contend with in life. To do it well, you need and deserve good care. Will you ask these questions of yourself today, and give yourself some love? 

Listen to yourself.

Be kind to yourself.

Tend to yourself like you tend to others.

PS We're running another new year day retreat, Beautiful Bold Beginnings on Saturday 18 January 2020 in Penzance - it was awesome last year, the tickets are live now, and you’re the first to know!

PPS Join us on Wednesday 16 October for our next online #somum Mamas' Retreat party in Mamas' Everyday Retreat...

Sea Soul Blessings
May you be CURIOUS

The sea is renewed in every moment, inviting fresh exploration. It calls you to revel in the wonder of rediscovering the world and yourself afresh, without expectations, assumptions or judgements.

May you embody child-like curiosity. May you pursue questions and release answers. May you witness without criticism. May you be inquisitive, and extraordinary.
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