Self care – why it matters

Emma Brown - Nutritionist | 13 Apr, 2020

Life is testing all of us in many ways at the moment, no one saw this curve ball coming. Which is why it is more important than ever that we try and take time to check in with ourselves and practise some self care. This is not selfish or self-indulgent, but a really important part of looking after our mental health and keeping ourselves in a positive place.

A great way to start is practising mindfulness. It's free and simple, and can be done anywhere for as much or as little time as you like. Mindfulness is a good first step into incorporating self care into your daily routine. Here are some tips how – why not give it a try?

How mindfulness can help

Mental wellbeing – Essentially mindfulness is about connecting with yourself and your environment, so that you know and understand what you are feeling and how the world around you makes you feel. Incorporating this into your lifestyle can do wonders for your mental health, happiness and overall wellbeing. In current times especially, we could all do with checking in with ourselves more frequently.

Anxiety – Research has shown that mindfulness can help reduce stress, improve our relationship with ourselves and others, help us get more enjoyment out of the world and much more. Paying closer attention to your inner conversation can help you take note and consider how those thoughts are affecting your mental and physical state. Our thoughts often get locked into a cycle which goes round and round – recognising our own thought patterns is the first step in breaking them. Many of the things we spend days of our life worrying about never happen. It may help to write down your anxieties – you can then look back at these in time and see this.

Mood – So one day you feel your fuse is particularly short. Ignoring the reasons for what caused this could lead you to continue to feel het up all day – but taking a second to recognise your mood and analyse why, can help you better manage your feelings. Once you've identified the source of your anxiety or anger, you can start to think about ways to manage this. If you are worrying about a situation outside of your control, it may help to talk to someone and share how you feel. Schedule in a video call with a family member or friend. Or write down how you're feeling in a diary and just get out your inner thoughts. This proactive way of listening to yourself can be really effective in managing feelings of stress and anxiety.

mindfulness

5 ways to fit mindfulness into your day

  1. Walk consciously – when you venture out for your daily exercise, head to a local park or footpath. If you can, go on your own and don't take headphones. Instead, do nothing but listen to the sounds around you – how do your footsteps sound on the ground, the birds in the trees, a vehicle in the distance, the wind in the trees. If your mind starts to wander to thoughts of the day, catch yourself and bring it back to the sounds around you – it's about staying in the moment.
  2. Connect with your body – lie or sit in a comfortable place and connect with how every part of your body is feeling. Start at your toes, relax each part of your body, mentally work all the way up to the top of your head. How do your toes, feet and ankles feel? Can you feel any tightness or aches in any areas? Listen and connect with your breath, noticing how it fills your lungs and the rise and fall of your stomach.
  3. Eat mindfully – sit at a table and eat your meals without distraction, paying attention to each mouthful. Consider the smell, taste and texture of the food and appreciate what it is giving you – nutrition, satisfaction, enjoyment, energy.
  4. Remove distractions – head into the garden with a cuppa and find a comfortable spot to sit and relax. Leave your phone indoors and instead take some time to enjoy the moment (hopefully in the sunshine). How does your drink taste? How does the sun feel on your skin? Try to disconnect from the world outside and connect solely to your world in that moment.
  5. Pay attention to your inner thoughts – try to listen more to the way you talk to yourself in your head. If you make a mistake, do you chastise yourself? If so, take a second to think about what you would say to a friend if they made the same mistake. Often we would be much kinder to a friend, but we should all show ourselves the same compassion.

We have a unique opportunity to take down the pace of our lives a notch or two for a short while– let's use it and learn more about ourselves. Make some time for mindfulness and see if it improves your sense of wellbeing!

Nutritionist Emma Brown (ANutr), MSc Human Nutrition is passionate about how food science applies to the human body, and how the nutrients in what we eat affect us and ultimately have an impact on our health.