So in summary of last week, self-care is about recognising our own needs and actively engaging in behaviours to try and meet those needs. Hopefully after last week you managed to have a think about your own needs. Sometimes this can come to us really quickly and other times it can be more challenging. For example today I can recognise that I feel tired. So my need might be for rest, or sleep. I also might be bored and feeling tired, so my need might be for fun. Or I might be tired from repeating the same kind of behaviours, so maybe my need is for change or time to reflect, for example journaling. Understanding our needs is a difficult thing to do and it takes time, practice and patience!
What makes understanding our needs even more difficult is when our basic needs are going unmet. These include our need for safety and security, food, water, sleep etc. Think about it, when you’re hungry what use are you to anyone? Or how do you feel after a couple of nights of no sleep? We are pretty useless right? These fundamental human needs are common to us all, and they are a priority. If you are not sleeping, or you do not feel safe, there is no point in trying to journal to address our emotional needs, or do mindfulness for psychological needs for example. Basic human needs always come first.
Always address your basic human needs first.
So what do we mean by this? Think about someone you love or care for. A family member, a child, a pet, a friend. If you were responsible for them, would you allow them to go a few days without good food? Without water? Without safety? No. We prioritise these needs for others, but we are not so good at doing this for ourselves. I recently had a long conversation with a client about food. She described how she doesn’t need to eat healthy as she doesn’t gain weight. This led to a long conversation about how food is not about body image, but rather about fuel for our bodies. Our bodies need fuel to function. Healthy food gives us energy, improves concentration, releases good endorphins. Food makes us feel strong and motivated. Or it can make us tired, lethargic, exhausted and fed up. It depends what we put into our bodies. Trying to function well without good food, water or sleep is like trying to drive with no petrol.
Trying to function well without good food, water or sleep is like trying to drive with no petrol.
It can be the same with out environment. If your environment feels unsafe or stressful, it is going to be extremely hard to focus on any other form of self-care. We need a healthy, safe, clean environment in order to be able to function well.
So the homework for this week is to start with your basic needs. Does your environment feel safe? Does it feel clean and comfortable? Have you had some healthy body fuel (food) today? Have you given your body some water? Have you had enough sleep? And if not, is there ways to address these things first? If you feel stuck think about how you would care for a loved one, or a child. What would their basic needs be, how would you meet them, and how can you apply this to yourself. Try this out for a few days and see how you get on. It seems so basic, but it regularly amazes me how much we neglect our bodies physically, and then wonder why we don’t feel good. Let’s start with the basics.
Good luck and take care,