You can’t pour from an empty glass. The art of self care.

There’s a lot written about ‘self care’ these days and a lot of misconceptions about what it means. It doesn’t mean having an expensive day at a spa, although that’s nice to do if you can afford it. Infact, it can simply mean taking a minute or two to take care of you.

What is self care?

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One of the best explanations I found is: “Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Although it’s a simple concept in theory, it’s something we very often overlook. Good self-care is key to improved mood and reduced anxiety”.

Doing something just for yourself can worry some people, especially if they have families to consider. You you don’t want to be seen as selfish, but self care definitely isn’t about that. It’s more a case of take care of yourself so that you can then be in a position to take care of others. As the saying goes “you can’t pour from an empty glass”.

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There needs to be balance, treating yourself to something nice to eat occasionally is one thing, indulging in constant comfort eating becomes ‘self harm’ rather than ‘self care’. Bingeing on cake may make you feel happy temporarily, but not in the long term. The same with an occasional lie in, but when it becomes spending all day every day in bed when you don’t need to, that isn’t self care

Self care also means learning to prioritise, say no and delegate tasks, you don’t have to do everything yourself, if you have a family ask for their help. It’s hard to be positive with a chronic illness but try to start every day with a positive thought, choose a positive mantra and keep repeating it, remember the things in your life that you are grateful for.

So what sort of things can you do for self care?

Do something for your benefit every day, it can be a very small, simple thing, but it has to be just for you.

It can be as simple as taking 5 or 10 minutes out of your day to relax. Sit and daydream, maybe over a hot drink and just let your mind wander. If the weather permits, sit outside as fresh air, taking time to appreciate nature, maybe listen to the birds sing.. If you didn’t get any free time during the day you could always go out into your garden at night and star gaze, personally I like to listen to the birds singing their last song of the day.

A lot of people recommend having a bubble bath (maybe even take a book in with you), manicuring your nails, putting on a face mask. All pretty simple things but we often forget to take the time to do them.

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Read a book or magazine, if you can’t concentrate on a book listen to music. Watch a favourite tv programme or film, again this is for you, so a film that you really want to see, or do a jigsaw puzzle.

How about getting together with a friend over a coffee, this is one of my favourite things to do, you usually end up having a laugh and that of course is also very good for you. If you can’t get together how about giving them a quick call for a chat?

Treat yourself to something, it can be small, but just for you. I love flowers and books so they’re often on my treat list, along with very dark chocolate which is good for you so completely justified!

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Another of my favourite ideas is a cuddle with your pet. As most people know, I have a cat and the sound of her purring away is very relaxing. When I have a nap on the couch she will often snuggle up with me. If you have a dog a little walk with them is also great for both of you, or just go out into the garden with them for a breathe of fresh air.

Do your favourite crafts or hobbies, I love crafting and can while away many an hour this way. Also drawing, painting or even colouring are all very relaxing, if you want to challenge your brain more try a crossword or sudoku if you enjoy them.

Have you always wanted to learn a new skill? Maybe now should be when you decide to put aside the time to do that? Keep moving forwards, keep expanding your mind, maybe just 10/15 minutes a day to learn a new skill or language, this is particularly good for the brain and helps with brain fog.

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Have 24 hours with no social media. I know that can fill a lot of people with horror, but social media can be stressful. A day without it can relax your mind, plus you then have the extra time to do something else.

If you really want to go online, why not look at lovely things on pinterest (I can while away many an hour doing this!). Take a look at our pinterest boards!

Self care includes ensuring you take your medication as prescribed and following up on doctors appointment, all of these things are vital to your well being.

There are lots of ideas online if you need them, but basically self care is being sensible and looking after yourself. Do something everyday that makes you happy and is good for your mental and/or physical health.

If you're still short on ideas click here for 101 Self-Care Suggestions for When It All Feels Like Too Much.

Angie Davidson

The content on this blog should not be seen as a substitute for medical advice. If you have, or think you may have lupus, always seek advice from a qualified physician. Find out more in our Terms of Use.