18/06/20 BLOG 2: THE FIVE CATEGORIES OF SELF CARE
Welcome back to the Together Alone blog! How have your weeks been? We are still just in phase 1 of lockdown and some of us are struggling with still being unable to see loved ones, working under very different conditions and full-time childcare. Here at CLiCK, we are well underway with our self-care tips and resources from our wonderful workers on our social media and are looking forward to hearing your tips about what you’re finding helpful. We are so excited to have this space to discuss what self-care means to you.
We have been doing a lot of thinking about what self-care is recently. I feel that self-care is a belief that we are important, even when external pressures - such as messages we receive daily from the media telling us we aren’t enough, that our bodies, faces, hair all need to change to meet a certain ideal - try to tell us we are not. It’s being allowed space and time to recharge our power, to know we are enough and that we deserve energy, effort, joy and rest. It’s not a one-size fits all approach, nor is it something we women always have the time or capacity for, but it’s about finding ways to understand our value and tools to help with this. Guardian article on the marketing of self care.
When lockdown began, it felt as though so much of what was being put out there was around being productive, focusing on learning and doing, rather than just surviving which is what so many of us were actually doing. I don’t know about you, but for me this led to guilt and frustration that I wasn’t learning a new language or becoming a professional yogi. We wanted to shift the conversation away from productivity and onto how we can look after ourselves right now. For some, that may be about learning something new, for others there might not be the space for that – self-care needs to be flexible and individual to reflect this.
When we first began thinking about self-care – what it is and what it means to people – we realised that a lot of discussions around it categorise it into different forms and outcomes. We decided that could be a useful way for us to frame our discussion. Thinking about both what you do as well as the outcome or effect it can have can help us all think about why self-care is important to us.
In the last blog I mentioned the 5 loose categories we had chosen for Together Alone and now we are going to look at in a bit more detail this week. We wanted these categories to reflect the physical and emotional outcomes that we hope for when undertaking any form of self-care.
These categories are GROUNDING, CONNECTION, JOY, MOVEMENT and COMFORT.
Grounding is all about activities that ground us in the here and now, connecting us to the present. They can be activities that help when we are triggered if we have experienced trauma or experiencing things like anxiety. Examples of this could be mindfulness techniques, grounding yourself in nature. Something that I have found helpful with grounding in the present is the 5-4-3-2-1 method of grounding.
Connection is all about making links with other people, yourself, and issues you care about. This can be about finding the time to connect with loved ones or taking time to explore feelings you have that you are struggling to connect with. Right now, that could look like meeting someone at a social distance to connect face-to-face or using a tool like the emotion wheel below to check in and name how you are feeling right now. This tool can work to help you identify what you are feeling right now and to accept it without self-judgement, hopefully then helping you to understand what you can do to help to manage that emotion. This doesn’t have to always be around more negative emotions either – it can be about connecting with yourself and exploring positive ones too, such as naming something you are grateful for and then using the wheel to identify exactly what emotions this produces in you.
Joy is about feeling able to allow yourself to take pleasure in things and taking time to yourself to do something you really love. This will absolutely be different things to different people so to use a personal example, I love love love the smell of roses and have found some pretty spectacular ones recently so have tried to plan my daily walk around being able to literally stop and smell the roses. I don’t know if the smell reminds me of something or someone, or why it just really appeals to me but I take real joy in that moment of giving them a right good sniff as I wander past them and not worrying what anyone thinks of me as I do it!
Movement is about finding a way to move your body that works for you. This will depend on your personal circumstances and will look really different for different people. It’s not just about exercise either, it could be moving while completing tasks that you’ve been putting off, or cleaning or decluttering to help your mind feel clearer. It could be finding an online fitness class that suits you, getting outside for a gentle walk, dancing around with wild abandon for 5 minutes or cleaning the house to help with anxiety. Article on the benefits of dancing.
Comfort in self-care involves finding things that make you feel comfortable and safe. This is about connecting with the need to feel safe and looked after that we all have at different times. It could be finding something that reminds you of happy memories, finding a blanket to wrap yourself up in to feel contained or giving yourself a hug when you feel you need one 1. It can also be about revisiting things you take comfort in such as a favourite recipe or book. Here’s my favourite blanket that I use to wrap around myself when I’m feeling the need of some comfort.
Another idea for a comfort-based activity could be making a comfort box. Select things that you could connect with – soft gloves, a favourite scent, a picture or quote, a happy photo, some fabric etc and when you feel yourself getting anxious, stressed or fearful –take the box out and find a quiet space to look through it. Hopefully, it will provide some comfort
It may be that things you find useful for your self-care fit into more than one category – I would say don’t worry too much about that, they are loose categories after all! You could try noting down one thing you do or would like to do for each category and make a plan to do each of them over the next wee while, or draw a mind map with different ideas of what you do./would like to do within each category. Feel free to share these with us for the toolkit! We would love to hear from you about what you find useful – do you have any tips for the 5 categories that you think other women might find useful?
You can contact me HERE or via firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll be back again next week to start talking more about creativity and self-care, take care till then.