CASWA’S 10 self-care tips for when life feels overwhelming
Over the last few years our lives have been impacted significantly… It is normal to feel overwhelmed, anxious and exhausted during these uncertain, stressful and sad times.
The NHS talk about self-care as a part of daily living. At CASWA we know the importance and benefits of self-care and we are HUGE advocates for it for ourselves, our families and the women, child and young people we support. Self-care is personal and unique to each of us and it doesn’t have to be expensive or extravagant. Acts of self-care can be as simple as going for a walk, taking time out to read a book or going having quiet time to yourself (even if it is only 5 minutes to enjoy a quick cuppa!). We are also very lucky to be living in a beautiful part of the country and just by getting outside to appreciate our surroundings can allow time for some self-care and mindfulness
This week, our team have put together our list of 10 self-care tips for when life and the world feels overwhelming, unpredictable and a wee bit frightening:
1. Use social media and the internet mindfully
2. Spend time in nature
3. Spend time journaling
4. Practice Mindfulness
5. Take time out for your hobbies
6. Cook and eat your favourite foods
7. Spend time with friends & family (including furry friends)
8. Develop a good sleep routine
10. Find positive distractions
1. Use social media and the internet mindfully:
We’re surrounded by information at our fingertips 24/7. It can be tempting and part of our routine to scroll and refresh…but this can be overwhelming and exhausting, particularly when the news is stressful, sad and worrying. The internet and social media are now a significant parts of life – a great way for us to keep in touch, remain informed, link up with likeminded folk, etc, etc. It often isn’t realistic to set a goal to just stop using them! What we can do though is be more mindful of how we use the internet and social media – think about how much time you spend on the internet and social media…? Who and what pages do you follow and visit…? How you feel after seeing different types of content…? Etc, etc… Design your internet and social media use around what works for you… This might look like unfollowing certain pages, muting alerts, putting boundaries in place for how often you spend on it a day, when you visit news websites, what websites you visit, etc…
Did you know that you can also review your use of social media platforms? On FB & Instagram go to the settings page, on FB select “Your Time on Facebook” and Instagram select “Time Spent”. You can see how much time you’re spending on the app or manage your time (set break reminders, daily time limit reminders/alerts, quiet modes, etc).
There are also Apps available which help you to limit your time on your phone overall. The Forest App https://www.forestapp.cc/ allows you to grow trees and build a beautiful forest on your phone. However only works while you use the app. Set a timer and watch your trees grow. The tree will only grow while you are on that app. If you open another while the timer is running the tree will not grow.
2. Spend time in nature:
We’re really lucky in Caithness and Sutherland to have some wonderful outdoor spaces on our doorsteps. Let’s not forget about them and the value of getting some fresh air in a green space. Some of our favourite places are our local beaches and forests… In a town or village setting – how about a walk along a local river, a walk down to the harbour area if you’re coastal or simply wrap up and go to a local green space for a seat or a walk. The fresh air and natural world will do you good!
If you have young children, taking them on a nature scavenger hunt can be a really fun way to make a walk an enjoyable experience for them as well!
If you’d like some ideas for some walks, check out this link for some walk ideas in Caithness and Sutherland https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/sutherland/ There are also some great lesser known walks around the Counties.
3. Spend time journaling:
We love a gratitude journal at CASWA! Before you put your head down to sleep at night, think about a couple of things about that day that were good or you were thankful for. Nothing big or fancy necessarily, just something good – it might be that you had 5 minutes to sit down and enjoy your morning coffee, the sun was shining, the sky was blue or you got a nice message from a friend. Write it all down in a note book or get a scrap of paper, decorate an old clean jar and store your gratitudes there.
Some of our team are also fans of morning pages, the minute you open your eyes, write 3 pages in a notebook. Don’t overthink it, just write… Read more about morning pages here: https://juliacameronlive.com/basic-tools/morning-pages/ and here: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/oct/03/morning-pages-change-your-life-oliver-burkeman
Some journaling style apps some of our team love is Finch https://www.befinch.com/ . Finch is a little digital friend which grows and learns as you take the time to dive into your own self-care. Journaling your day, setting goals and achieving them gives your little animal energy which helps them to grow and learn new things.
4. Practice Mindfulness:
Some of our favourite mindfulness practices that we use and share often are:
- 54321 – A grounding exercise. Pause and be present. What are 5 things you can see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste…
- Star breathing – A breathing exercise. Draw or imagine a 5 pointed star, move around the star breathing in and out, pausing to hold your breath for a moment each time the line on the star changes direction. Work your way around the star a few times, breathing in and out.
- Finger breathing – Another breathing exercise, similar to star breathing. Use one finger from one hand and trace around your other hands fingers breathing in and out as you go up and down each finger.
- Focus on what you can hear – A meditation exercise – get comfortable and close your eyes, spend a minute focusing on the sound you can hear furthest away from your body. Then switch your focus and spend another minute focusing on the sound closest to your body.
There are lots of mindfulness information and exercises (including some great meditation exercises) online and via apps.
5. Take time our for your hobbies:
Having hobbies is so important to self-care. We often get burdened by the day-to-day tasks and responsibilities, but it is so important to carve time out of our week to do something we enjoy that is for us! Some of the favourite pastimes of our team:
- Reading (remember your local library!) – a great way to escape the real world for a wee while!
- Getting creative (remember it is the act of creating that’s important, not the perfect outcome!)
- Listening to a podcast
- Wild swimming
- Crochet & knitting
6. Cook and eat your favourite foods:
Comfort foods can make you feel all warm and cosy. But don’t forget the feeling of accomplishment that comes from cooking a nice meal for yourself and your family/friends. You could arrange a dinner with others or simple treat yourself to some of your favourites. At CASWA some of our favourites are: nachos, soups, curries, pizzas, pastas and CAKE!!! Check out this site with lots of comfort food recipe ideas: https://www.thepioneerwoman.com/food-cooking/meals-menus/g32933285/comfort-food-recipes/?slide=4
7. Spend time with Friends and Family (Including your furry friends)
After the past couple of years, it is more important than ever to feel connected to those around us. It can be tempting to isolate ourselves and while sometimes we need to take a wee step back, the benefit of connecting with others is really powerful. It doesn’t need to be a big planned event, a simple, spontaneous visit, walk or coffee ( AND CAKE!). Spending time with the people we love is massively beneficially and helps us to remember that we are not alone. …And don’t forget to talk, sharing how we are and how we’re feeling is important.
8. Develop a good sleep routine:
Spend some time winding down at the end of the day. Create a night time routine around what works for you to prepare you and your body for sleep and to give you rest for tomorrow.
Apps we love:
Podcasts we love:
Exercise doesn’t have to cost anything! Getting outside to get some decent steps in a day, trying out Couch to 5K, find workouts on YouTube (Yoga with Adrienne, Cosmic Yoga (to join in with the kids!), and P.E. with Joe). The benefits of regular exercise are well known, it can help boost your mood, make you feel healthier, promote better sleep, boosts your energy levels and is part of a healthy lifestyle.
10. Find a POSITIVE distraction
Don’t underestimate the power of a familiar, feel good TV show re-run – the predictability and ease of watching something familiar can be really helpful when we’re feeling overwhelmed with it all. Similarly with a favourite book or podcast. It’s okay to allow yourself time to escape into a world of fiction and get lost in the stories told through whatever media you enjoy.
If you’d like any more ideas, check out some of our previous blog posts:
Create a Vision Board: https://www.caswa.org.uk/blog/vision-boards
Connect with Nature: https://www.caswa.org.uk/blog/connect-with-nature
Therapeutic Thursdays with CASWA: https://www.caswa.org.uk/blog/therapeutic-thursdays