Self-love: the most underrated love story 13 February 2019 Advocacy Self-love is the kind of love we should all be searching for. It is the kind of love that makes you feel good, unapologetically. The kind of love that you work on by yourself, for yourself. The key to finding this kind of love is caring for yourself. Naturally, once you have mastered the art of self-love and care, the people around you will also benefit from your newfound balance. So how do you actually care for yourself when life is busy and you have people who are relying on you to love and care for them too? Start by listening to the signals your mind and body are giving you and take these signals seriously. If you feel overtired, get to bed earlier. If you feel overwhelmed, find it in yourself to open up to a friend or family member. To help understand what self-care is about for you, try this exercise. Get two glasses, fill one with water and leave one empty. Now think about what drains your energy and leaves you feeling exhausted. Pour some water out and into the empty glass for everything you notice that depletes you. Now think about what restores you. Is it a hot drink with a friend? Watching your favourite series on Netflix? Begin pouring the water back into the original glass. This exercise shows you the need to find balance. You cannot have an empty glass; for everything that really takes it out of you, try and do something to regain what is lost. Unfortunately, looking into the mirror one day and telling yourself, “I am strong and independent; I can cope with anything,” does not mean you will immediately feel like a brand new, relaxed version of yourself, filled with self-confidence. However, there are steps you can take each day, to work towards a happier and more balanced you. Here are some steps you can start practising today: Give real thought to your triggers. Are Thursdays always difficult? Are you on the school run on your own? Is it your busy day at home or work? Are the evenings full of chores and preparations for the next day? You need to find something to help ease these pressures. Can you make arrangements for friends or family to help with just one thing that day? Can you take a full lunch break and eat your favourite meal? Whatever you do, make sure it restores you and makes Thursday just 5% easier. Practise gratitude. It may seem like a foreign idea for you to celebrate the small but good things that happen each day that are positive, but the benefits of doing this are endless. Take time to reflect on the things you are grateful for; doing this daily will slowly start to change the way you perceive situations. If it loses its impact and becomes mundane, change it up and think smaller. Instead of saying, “I am thankful for my family,” say, “I am really thankful for this cup of tea right now.” You can say it aloud, write it in a journal, or just take time out of your day to think about it. Introduce apps such as Headspace or Insight Timer to your schedule; they provide hundreds of themed sessions on everything from stress and sleep to focus and anxiety along with bite-sized guided meditations for busy schedules. For once, you won’t feel quite as guilty reaching for your smartphone. Introduce a new coping technique, and make it a habit. Whether you decide to take full, restorative lunch breaks, get out for a daily walk, read some fiction or keep a journal, the key is to find what works for you and stick to it. Top tip: tell a friend you can trust what your new system is, and ask them to check in on you to make sure you keep it up. Small steps. Find just one thing that helps you and persist until it becomes routine, only then should you introduce more change. Change can feel a little overwhelming so take it easy – slow and steady wins the race. Norwood’s Children and Family Services have a multidisciplinary team of highly-skilled and experienced professionals who run programs such as Strengthening Families, as well as one to one parent support. These programs always have a real focus on self-care; if you would be interested in joining us for any of these sessions, please get in touch.