Updated: Jun 20, 2022
When someone first introduced the idea of self care to me, ill be honest, I knew nothing of what that actually meant. I had visions of a nice hot bath and a bath bomb... maybe some chocolate. I now realise self care means completely switching off to what is going on around me. Whether that is loosening the grip of responsibilities I may be holding, turning the thoughts down in my head or finding a more compassionate self chatter.
Sometimes it is easy to become worried or worked up for someone else that we completely disconnect from ourselves and what we need. I know when I get too wrapped up in someone else's world, I need to find space to reconnect with me and how I feel. This has not been an easy lesson and I still have to work on it regularly but I am ok with that.
I have regularly been told to meditiate because thats great for getting out of your head; whilst I have tried this I end up becoming more frustrated. As a neaurodivergant myself, I find meditation incredibly challenging. However I can do yoga which I guess can be classed as a form of meditation, but I still find my mind wonders.
What I have found recently though, is gardening is actually my meditation. It is the one thing I become so focused on; when I'm out in the garden, not a single worry, thought or emotion that isn't linked to my garden in that very moment runs through my head. I could be out there all morning, taking regular breaks to sit and look at what needs doing next and I haven't even thought once about anyone or anything else in my life.
Gardening brings its own therapeutic stance too, you are connecting to yourself through nature. You are nurturing plants from babies, taking care to ensure they are receiving the right amount of nutrients/sunlight/water. Watching their growth daily/weekly. You are providing conditions for growth and then sitting back and watching what you have created, every tiny detail of it. Not only are you creating your own habitat but also the habitat for a variety of wildlife which you also get to be apart of. I often sit with my coffee on a morning and watch the bluetits feast on the aphids, the blackbirds who sit on the shed and argue with each other until I fill up their feeder. This year I watched and laughed as the baby black birds would follow their mother to the feeder but would not yet feed themselves; instead they sat squawking on a nearby fence until she returned to feed them.
So clearly, when we think about self care and the need to soften a negative thought pattern or those times when we just need to switch off, it doesn't have to be the same as other people, it doesn't have to look a certain way. It can be whatever makes you feel so content and focused for that time you spend doing it. Whatever gives your mind a rest from the daily pressures of life and however that works for you.
Some ideas for self care:
Read a book
Walk in nature
Colour in, draw, or paint.