• Kate Henry

The #selfcare movement isn't enough.

This blog isn't technically physiotherapy related, or... is it?

This has been bugging me for a while. Quite a while. Today I sat down with a cup of tea to write about it because I think there are probably a lot of people out there that agree.

There are a lot of definitions for self care on the internet but this one sums it up the best I think:

Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health.

Firstly, I'll say just how much I love the concept of humans taking more time to look after their physical, mental and emotional well being. I love the idea of people not feeling guilty for taking time to themselves, to support their development and to look after their dreams and goals!

In a society where "busy" is a badge of honour, the #selfcare movement was very welcome but...(and cue the haters here) but I think that we might be doing it all wrong. In the last 3 months I have had family members, friends and also myself experience sickness and flu's plus an alarming number of clients rescheduling appointments because of either their own or their child's illness. If we are doing so great at this self care business, then why the heck are we all so sick and suffering at the moment?

My thoughts on the subject ...

The #selfcare movement was meant to be about promoting healthy behaviours like relaxing with a book, going for a run, walking outdoors, spending time with doggos, catching up with friends and putting phones on silent, enjoying meals together, eating well and working on the #hustle to chase your dreams!

I personally feel like instead of this it has in some ways just become a vain competition to see who can post the best picture of their brunch or selfie with a sunny background. Or sell a product. At the time of writing this, if you type in #selfcare into instagram search almost half the content in the first few scrolls is quotes, unrelated posts and products. It disheartens me. When instagram removed the number of likes shown on a post I was SO happy! People were suddenly able to just focus on SHARING and ENGAGING with friend and community rather than likes and social media traffic - such a great action by Instagram/Facebook. However, I think there is still work to be done.

Now, you may be sitting there any thinking that "Kate, you've posted about self care before - what makes you different?" and the answer is simply this - nothing! I've definitely posted about self care before and I definitely post about brunch because its one of the best meals of all time (obviously). However, these days I am trying to be a little more conscious. I take a quick snap of what I'm doing e.g. yoga on my back patio or a cup of tea or my book and then I put the phone down and immerse myself in the activity and enjoy it, really let it envelope me so that I feel content and restored after and when I share about it, it is to encourage others to enjoy themselves too in whatever way floats their boat (not everyone loves chai lattes as much as I do!).

Running a small business means that any time I am not working - I get MAJOR guilt. Like I'll think "shoot, I should answer that message" ... at 2pm on a Sunday (no, I shouldn't, it is my time to relax but my business brain wants to action it!) and so it takes real effort to leave the text until Monday or to respond later when I sit down to do a bunch of work all at once. Delaying and instead focusing on looking after myself IS self-care.

YOU, my lovely friend, are no different. You may not run a business (or maybe you do!) but you are human. The demands on you can be family, partner, kids, work, side hustle, sport, health - the list goes on!!

Taking time out from that to focus on YOU can be really difficult. You may feel guilty. Or find it really difficult to relax with your to-do list whirring around your head!

Like all good things, it just takes practice...

But in the meantime, here are my pro tips!

1. Actually take care of yourself.

If you're sick. YOU. ARE. SICK. Stay home, drink fluids, see the GP, rest and recovery and for Pete's sake do not share your germs. If you have something super contagious like the flu, a virus or gastro - wait 48 hours minimum until you socialise or go to appointments or daycare etc so that you keep the buggies at home and don't spread them. This one tiny action prevents so many people from getting sick - think of all the people you'll save from the heartache of being sick!

2. Stop feeling guilty! Time spent on yourself is time well spent.

This. Just this. Stop feeling guilty. Think of it as an investment in yourself. You don't feel bad putting together taking care of other people do you? So stop feeling guilty for taking care of yourself.

3. Stop missing your appointments, put yourself first.

Seriously. This is a HUGE gripe with me. Now, I'm probably a little bias because I am a health professional who owns a business BUT whilst there are definitely some legitimate reasons to miss/cancel appointments (being sick or kids sick or family emergencies to name a few) - cancelling appointments because you're just not feeling it is silly. Health professionals are here to HELP YOU. To assist you in your journey and help you to achieve your goals! We can't do that if we don't see you!

I have clients who come in and sit down and go "Kate, my life is a genuine shambles and I didn't do any of my exercises and I hurt - help". I go, okay, and we start talking about barriers and how to get back on track (whilst getting in some delightful massage at the same time!). Again, invest in yourself - it is the BEST investment you will ever make! Hands down!

4. Block off time to RESPECT your health.

Schedule time for looking after yourself into your week ON YOUR CALENDAR. Put in your gym sessions, block off time for reading or your favourite activity. Schedule in catch ups and family time!

One of my favourite quotes is this:

"Don't get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life".

5. Give the gift of health this Christmas

This one is a little random but I thought it would be a great idea. Rather than random boxes of chocolates from the local major chain supermarket - give the gift of health!

A voucher for new running shoes, a massage voucher, a box of raw treats, a 10 class pass for the two of you to do yoga or fitness classes or even pay for someone's initial consult to see a physio, dietician, personal trainer - whatever! I can honestly say if someone wanted to call up and pay for a voucher for their friend to see a physio I would not say no to that - it is SUCH a lovely thought!!

So there you have it, my thoughts on how we can better do #selfcare and stop feeling guilty about investing in ourselves! Share with your friends and family! Make sure they all know that taking time for themselves is important and that you respect that.

Kate Xx


© 2020 Kate Henry Physiotherapist