It’s amazing what can happen physically, emotionally, mentally (even spiritually – if you are into that) when you start to care for yourself.
It can be hard to care for yourself initially, especially if you have spent most of your life putting others or everything else first. There may be self-sabotaging patterns or behaviours that get in the way, you may not feel like you have the time or even deserve it.
Sometimes it’s having a good reason ‘why’ you want to make changes in the first place – it could be for family, your children perhaps, or you may have a health concern or issue you are trying to address, or you may just realise that your current way of living/being isn’t working for you anymore and something HAS to change.
I’d like to share a few of the realisations and things that happened to me in the beginning of my self-care journey, when I was experimenting and starting to make small, healthy changes. I hope they might inspire you if you are in the early days of your self-care journey or perhaps further along and just need some motivation or another ‘why’ to keep you going.
These changes didn’t all take place at once. In the beginning I experimented with different actions and behaviours and it’s only over time that more and more stuck, when they became habits as I realised how awesome I was starting to feel.
A few of the things I personally tried at the start of my journey were:
- Stopping drinking alcohol for a month
- Eating fresh fruits and vegetables every day and cutting out processed and refined foods
- Drinking no caffeine for a while
- Experimenting with moving my body in ways that felt good to me (this ended up being yoga)
- Starting to say no more (without feeling guilty – which took some time) and put my needs first
- De-cluttering everything in my life (physically – I had 13 years of stuff I’d accumulated. Also friendships that had become toxic or just weren’t right for me anymore)
- Healing my relationship with myself through journaling and meditation
Here's what happened:
1. I realised I didn’t know how bad I was feeling until I started to feel good
When I started to spend more than only a day here or there looking after myself I began to notice all the effects of the positive habits and behaviours, exercise and nutrient rich foods, as I was actually giving my body time to adjust and assimilate all the ‘good’ I had been giving it.
Some of these changes were more energy, feeling happier and calmer, losing weight more effortlessly, and softer, glowing skin. I noticed how awesome I could actually feel in my body, realising that for years I’d actually been feeling bloated, tired, moody and anxious, which I had just accepted as my normal.
2. I felt a number of physical and mental benefits
Aside from things like losing weight, more energy, glowing skin etc, which are all wonderful benefits, I noticed I became more resilient and had more stamina so was able to handle a lot more without feeling overwhelmed. I had a throbbing pain in the back of my left ankle for months and irritable bowel syndrome that lasted a few years (at separate times), which both completely went. I needed less sleep, was waking up feeling energised before my alarm went off, and wasn’t exhausted at the end of the day ready to crawl into bed at 8pm. I also felt happier, even on grey days (which used to really affect me), and my moods were much more stable and upbeat.
3. I was able to be so much more for myself and give so much more to others
As I started to put myself first and feel good inside, I started to grow in confidence too. I found I stopped saying yes to things I didn’t want to do, so didn’t feel so depleted and like I had all these overwhelming obligations. Also as I felt stronger in myself I stopped feeling guilty for saying no.
Instead I had time to do things I wanted to do like yoga, reading and learning, catching up with friends on a much deeper level, cooking and writing. These things totally nourished me and I was able to be fully present and available when friends or family needed my support. Rather than feeling like I was in one place and my mind was in another.
I also found that I inspired a few others along the way to start putting themselves first and prioritising their health and wellbeing, which was awesome!
4. My world started to reflect how I was feeling
This might be a bit ‘woo woo’ to some, but it’s what happened for me. Of course there are always things that happen out of your control and we all go through loss, heartbreak and other sad events (that is just life), but I noticed that my day-to-day flowed more easily. I found that exciting work and collaboration opportunities came to me, I met people into the same things as me almost by chance, and even met the man I’m with today (four years later), after having been a serial dater for six years, and ready to give up!
These are just a few of the great things that happened to me, and of course we are all different and what I experienced may not be what you do. But what I can say, is that when you start to give yourself the best and prioritise YOU, magic starts to happen in all areas of your life.
You can sign up to my next FREE 30-day seasonal self-care challenge here: http://bit.ly/30daysofselfcare. They include daily self-care tips, actions and inspiration straight to your inbox, so you can find out what works for you and include more in your life.
Photo by Cristina Gottardi