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The importance of self-care and how to do it, especially around grief

The importance of self-care and how to do it me and my tattoos

Today, 23rd August, would have been my mum’s 85th birthday. It is the first one she has not been here for since her passing six months ago. I often wish I could see her, but especially today. Last week was my dad’s birthday and as we sat in my mum and dad’s favourite restaurant, I said mum should be sitting there, and dad said, yes, she’s missing out.

Missing out… that made me think. Yes, of course she is missing out, as her life would have probably gone on if she hadn’t got those mini strokes and vascular dementia. Our lives can, and are, ripped from us with or without suffering first. We simply MUST make the most of what we have. We must try to live our best lives; to be good to others’, but especially good to ourselves via self-care. I talk a lot about self-care as a counsellor and do try to practice what I preach! 😊

Self-care validates our life on this planet.

To give you some ideas I will talk about my self-care efforts…

Self-care for me right now consists of a few things. Some have been longer term and others I have introduced since my mum’s passing, like choosing to give up smoking cigarettes. (It has been incredibly hard, but it’s been five months already!)

I took up the bereavement counselling offered by the palliative care team who made my mums last hours comfortable, despite comments that could have put me off. It’s helping me with all aspects of my life and a huge amount has come out in just 3 sessions. All stuff that had been pushed back due to the stressful and non-stop events of the last 5 years, and a whole lifetime so it seems.

If I suddenly burst into tears over a memory or a song that reminds me of mum, I do not berate myself, I remain in the moment, appreciate the emotions and the memory, and let it pass.

I make sure I have time to eat properly, and don’t stuff down junk food on the hop.

I am able to say no, if I need to.

I appreciate that that my thoughts and emotions are my own – I do not compare or feel I should deal with things in a certain way. I go at my own pace.Plants and flowers for self care

I do not worry what other people think of me. Of course, I do care, but worry is another matter entirely. I essentially can be myself and not what I think people want me to be. Some evidence of this is my collection of tattoos and not being ashamed of my loud laugh! Ha ha ha.

Sparing lots of time to play with my animals or watch my fish 😊

I’ve started reading again; it’s relaxing! 😊

I listen to my body… Actually this one needs work! I tend to hear what it’s saying but do it anyway, causing a bad back or stomach ache etc. However, I do my back exercises if I need to and have baths or rub in peppermint cream, so I’m halfway there.

love your homeI like to dress how I like, and keep my nails neat etc.

I practise expressive writing as self-therapy.

Being optimistic.

I practise mindfulness.

Spend plenty of time outdoors. I remember when I could barely go out due to anxiety and paranoia, and don’t ever want to go there again. I love the outdoors!

I make time to socialise – I love a chat!

Having lots of potted plants inside and out. I have no garden, but I create a garden and I love it.

Getting jobs done at my own pace; the washing up can wait sometimes! 😊 But, generally keeping my home nice so I have a pleasant, comfortable area in which to live, surrounded by things I love. (Living in a shared home can make this harder, but it’s important to always have a space that is just yours, with your things, so you have some personal space)

Flossing my teeth – mmm getting a bit boring now!!! I could go on, but you get the idea.

There are lots of other things I could be doing that I am not, and although they are on my ‘to change’ list, I don’t beat myself up about not doing them. Small steps.

Have a think what you do for self-care and maybe there are a few more things you could add to further enhance your life. What do you like doing? Imagine you are someone else that you really care about – what advice would you give them? Whatever it is, take that advice for yourself and do it. If we take care of ourselves, we can take better care of others and have more to give, so anyone who thinks self-care is a selfish act (many do, especially mothers) it is the opposite. If not for yourself, take care of yourself for those you care about.

Thanks for reading 😊

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