Natalie Silvester is a lifestyle blogger from the Isle of Wight. She runs two businesses focusing on wellness (Beauty Therapy) and photography. Natalie is our first ‘guest blogger’ and shares her thoughts and tips on the importance of self-care.
We see the words ‘self care’ thrown around like confetti these days but what does it actually mean and is it more than just looking after ourselves?
In my personal opinion, it isn’t the over-glamourised term that all the celebrities and influencers are using now. To me, instead, it’s as simple as re-charging your batteries before they run too low and I strongly believe that ‘self care’ is a simple term for protecting ones self (and sanity).
We live such busy lives where mental health problems are on the rise, the pressures of being and doing it ‘all’ weigh down on us so it’s no wonder that many of us are left feeling a little frazzled in our day-to-day existence.
We easily recognise that we have responsibilities to our partners, our families, our children, our jobs and so on (lets face it, the list is ever growing) but sometimes we forget about the biggest responsibility which is looking after number one. In doing so, we could certainly be setting ourselves up for failure. You’ve heard the expression time and time again, but, you really can’t pour from an empty cup and nor should you ever have to. No matter how hectic life gets, if there’s no time in your day for ‘me-time’ it could well be time to re-jig the priorities list.
We’re supposed to live and not just to survive so why on earth are we all so bad at giving ourselves the care and attention we desperately need? Partly, I think that we are from generations of people-pleasers. It may also be that in a world where everything is instant, most of us have forgotten or were never taught the importance of looking after ourselves. With our busy lifestyles, we need to take positive action and start to focus on our own wellbeing so that we can continue to support and care for those around us!
When I talk about self care, I’m not talking about lavish spa days, spending hours of the week pampering yourself or taking a holiday every other month (although these things would obviously be lovely!). I actually believe it’s the small changes that can have the biggest impact. It could be anything from quietly sipping your coffee in the garden for five peaceful minutes of the day, an exercise regime that offers you some well needed headspace, getting out of the house a few times a week to blow out the cobwebs or enjoying a nice hot bath and a glass of your favourite tipple (mines a berry cider or a nice glass of red!).
Self care can also be as simple as cooking whilst listening to your favourite music, taking a drive just for the sake of it or watching a few episodes of your favourite TV series of an evening. Whatever it is, it should be something that brings you joy and gives you the ability to be present and mindful. If you’re anything like me, you’ll have to-do lists coming out of your ears and it’s nice to shove these aside sometimes and let your mind be completely clear of it all, even if its only 10 minutes a day or an hour a week!
I don’t have children, so admittedly my days aren’t quite as busy as some I could imagine, but with running two businesses as well as living with a chronic illness (Fibromyalgia) and also (high-functioning) anxiety, I’ve certainly had to learn a thing or two about self care over the years.
Both experiences in my job (Beauty Therapist and photographer) and my personal life have helped me to guide others in practicing self-care and reminding them to take those mindful moments. These are just some of the ways I’ve been able to fit this into my life and that you may also find helpful. They’re probably things you do anyway but it can’t hurt to have a little reminder to spend some time focusing on you:
- Do more of what brings you joy! Whether its a long-standing hobby, or giving yourself 5 minutes to read a chapter of that book you’ve been meaning to finish or even dancing to your favourite music in your kitchen, just because you feel like it! Do something that is just for you and that allows you to fully switch off. You deserve it, you always deserve it.
- Exercise regularly! Get your blood pumping, its so good for you! Even if its doing squats whilst you brush your teeth or downloading an app such as ‘the 7 minute workout’ because, lets face it, EVERYONE has 7 minutes in their day! Exercise has been proven to release endorphins and therefore uplift our minds and mental health so even if you can only squeeze in a few lunges whilst you drink your morning cuppa, you’ll soon start to feel the benefit of it!
- Hydrate! This is the most important thing you can do for your body! We think and function better when we’re hydrated and there’s even recent studies that suggest it could improve our mood too! So grab that reusable bottle (because lets face it, the planet could use some love too!) and fill it with water and make sure you keep yourself hydrated every day! You’ll soon find that when you don’t dehydrate your body, it (and your mind!) will thank you! I promise!
- Rest….make sure you’re getting enough Zzzz’s. Take time to switch off before you go to sleep – ideally an hour before bed you should switch off your screens! Aim for 7 hours sleep a night as a minimum and if you’re not getting this, try to just adjust your bed-time by 30 minutes! It’ll do you the absolute world of good!
- Spend time with people who’ve got your back! Having people who make you happy around you can only be a good thing for your mental health! Make the effort to spend more time around those who know you, love you and support you and take yourself out of friendship groups/relationships that don’t make you happy and actually drain you of your energy. It has also been proven that people who grow up in close-knit circles and communities generally tend to live longer and happier lives because they are surrounded by a good support system.
- Unplug and switch off! Would you dare to go a few hours in the week without your phone in your hand? Life was definitely more simple without technology and so its probably quite healthy to take a break from it every now and then. Social media scrolling, especially, can often be the opposite of self care, filling our heads with too much information, high expectations and the worst of all…comparison! Which leads me onto my last point..
- Be kind to yourself! The best form of self-care there is! In a world filled with imitation, stay true to yourself and who you want to be rather than who other people expect you to be! Life is short and you should fill it with people and experiences that bring you joy and allow you to live authentically and live life to the full! Everyone will experience this differently but do prioritise the things that make you happy and try hard to not fall into the trap of comparison. You’re you, and you’re pretty great! Don’t forget it.
So give yourself permission to take that much needed self-care time, and adopt a slower pace to life. You’ll be surprised at the lasting effects. You’ll recharge your batteries which will help you be a better partner, mother, father, colleague, employee, employer, friend etc – you’ll feel more content, more rested and happier and hopefully it’ll show on the outside as well as in! My best advice? See self self care as a necessity and not just an option.
You can find Natalie’s blog here
All pictures are the copyright of @nataliesilvesterphotography