The 3 biggest mistakes people make about self-care

I woke up feeling groggy. I had been put on steroids for 4 days following an allergic reaction to what still remains a mystery. To say I hadn’t been feeling my usual self for the past week would be an understatement. That coupled with the paranoia of what I could and couldn’t eat was driving me to distraction. Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t do drugs if I can in anyway help it. My preference is nutrition, followed by herbs, then supplements; and if all else fail, then bring in the drugs. So being jacked up on steroids to treat the allergic reaction for me is a big deal. Still no one wants to walk around with puffed-up eyes and swollen lips, so my vanity won out. Plus, I didn’t think the A&E doctor would have taken too kindly to me saying: ‘My throat might be closing, but no thanks the steroids, I will just sit here and quietly sip on this herbal tea and hope for the best’!

I don’t know what caused the allergic reaction and neither do the doctors, but I know on some level my body is trying to tell me something, so I am going to do what I know best and take care of myself while I await more tests. Self-care I know and understand, and indeed it has been a part of my life for a long time, however we all fall off the rails when life gets hectic; and this is what brings me to 3 biggest mistakes that people make when it comes to self-care:

  1. It has to be expensive
  2. It has to be time consuming
  3. Needs involve a weird ritual

Thinking about self-care like this stops us from doing the little normal things we can do in passing, to help us along.

Expensive

Self-care can be expensive, if you let it, or it can be as cheap as chips. The problem is, people don’t see simple things are self-care. They only see self-care as booking into an expensive spa with your friends in tow. That is not self-care, that is having fun with your friends, but true self-care should be easy and accessible and done often. Like luxuriating in the bath once a week. This can be as decadent as you like, and most of the time you will have everything you need like candles, essential oils and bath salts knocking about. Anyone can build this into their lives and enjoy the benefits.

Time-consuming

Let’s squash this one right now. In the case of a bath, you will need to have a shower at some point, so rather than 10 minutes you spend 30 minutes in the bath. Are you seriously telling me you can’t spare 30 minutes during the whole weekend? How much time do you spend on social media? Ok, bring your phone into the bath if you must and kill two birds with one stone, but from my point of view that defeats the objective of relaxing and taking your mind of your mundane worries.

I sometimes like to sit and drink fresh mint tea in a beautiful cup and watch the bumblebees flit from flower to flower on my patio. I can sit anywhere from 10 minutes to 30 minutes just doing this. This helps me clear my mind and gives me a sense of connectedness. This is just a simple self-care habit.

Weird Ritual

There are those who when they hear self-care, conjure up images of weird implements and unguents to be applied, foul-tasting teas to be ingested, and massages involving being trod on by sumo wrestlers! Each to their own, but self-care shouldn’t be that complicated. Self-care is simply taking time out of your day to get off the hamster wheel and just grab some time for yourself. It can of course take any form, such as:

  • Going for walk in nature
  • Wild Swimming
  • Listening to soothing music
  • Massage
  • Drinking your favourite brew
  • Having a bath
  • Reading your favourite book
  • Having a long chat with a good friend

You can add to this list, but you get my drift.

In my book, Octopus on a Treadmill: Women, Success, Health, Happiness I explain the importance of self-care to women, particularly during our menstrual cycle, as that is the time take it easy.

My favourite form of self-care, and to me the easiest, is having a luxurious bath. When I woke up this morning, feeling a bit worse for wear, I knew I had to put my self-care on steroids, literally. This is what I did:

I got lavender, peppermint and rosemary from my garden and scattered them in the bath and started filling it up with just hot water to get the oils out of the herbs. Then, while the bath was running, I went and made myself a herbal tea of Star Anise, Turmeric and Orange; and before you think this is fancy, this was literally putting a tea bag in a cup of hot water. These days you can get all sorts of tea mixtures. The only difference this time was, because I was in self-care mode, I used my very pretty china cup, rather than a mug.

I brought my tea back to the bathroom to have in the bath and started adding cold water, and few drops of lavender oil to the bath I had been running. I also added a cup of Epsom salts for detoxification. Then before getting into the bath, I gave myself a dry body brush, to help activate my lymphatic system, and also get rid of any dead skin. Now I was ready to luxuriate in the bath, which is exactly what I did, while I sipped my herbal tea; and yes, I stayed in there for an hour, because I am worth it, and I also felt that was what my body needed.

This little self-care session of mine engaged me on lots of levels. First of all, the fact that you are taking time for yourself sends a nod to your self-esteem. Did I already say you are worth it? Well you are. Then just seeing the beautiful bath full of herbs, essential oils and salts is a feast for the eyes and olfactory senses; more signalling to yourself that you deserve it. Then the body brushing is such a tactile and nurturing act, and then finally submerging yourself in the warm water and allowing yourself just to let go of all your worries and just luxuriate. How is this not one of the best things to do in the whole world? And to think you can do it for yourself and on the cheap if so choose.

I am now going to take easy for the rest of the day, as it is my first day without steroids; but after such beautiful start to my day, I know I will be just fine.

Now that you know how easy it is to take care of yourself, what self-care routine are you going to build into your life?