Blog,  Health,  Lifestyle,  postnatal depression

Why Self Care Is My Priority in 2018

Making resolutions in the New Year can be difficult when you are battling mental health. Whether it’s a getting fitter, taking on a new job or vowing to travel more, resolutions can be overwhelming.

For me, 2017 was about battling through postnatal depression and anxiety. It all came to a head in December when I found a lump in my breast. I went to my doctor who discovered some thickening of the breast tissue and I was immediately referred to the breast clinic.

It was a terrifying two-week wait, and thankfully everything was fine, however, it was a stark reminder that your mental and physical health should be a high priority.

Here are a few reasons why self-care should be at the top of your list in 2018.

Relaxing to Avoid Burnout

The phrase ‘self-care’ may sound a little self-indulgent but it’s an important habit we need maintain to keep ourselves functioning. With work piling up, children to look after, a house to run, we often forget how to stop, live in the moment or relax.

I know I feel like I’m slacking if I take a moment to sit on the sofa and enjoy a cup of tea. I often push through deadlines and only reward myself with lunch if I meet them. This is counter-productive because all it does is make me hungry, less focused for the rest of the day and stressed.

Studies have found that relaxing and taking a break helps you perform better.  A refreshed brain helps you see problems differently and you are more likely to find a solution.

Walking Fuels Creativity

It comes as no surprise that acclaimed novelists and poets such as William Wordsworth, Charles Dickens and Virginia Wolf were keen walkers.

Taking a break refreshes the mind and helps you become more creative, as found in a study by Stanford University. It found that when people did mental tasks that required imagination, walking led to more creative thinking.

Writing to Deal with Emotions

A study in the Advances in Psychiatric Treatment found that 15-20 minutes of writing in a journal helped cope with traumatic, stressful or emotional events. It resulted in improvements in both psychological and physical health.

Protect Your Time by Saying No

Everything is being thrown your way and before you know it, you’ve said yes to a bunch of things that will intrude on your time and leave no room for yourself. This can lead to feelings of being stressed and tired, to great impairment to the quality of your life.

Learning to say no can be hard to do, but rather than feeling compelled to agree to every request, it might be time to put your foot down.

Start by scheduling pockets of ‘empty’ time into your day and guard them carefully. If you are asked to do something you can’t do then keep your response simple, polite, but direct. For example, say, “Thanks for asking but I’m sorry I can’t do that tomorrow”. If you aren’t sure then buy yourself some time by saying ‘I’ll get back to you.’ This will give you some space to consider your options.

You Cannot Pour From an Empty Cup

To me, the most important reason for self-care is that I need to be able to look after my children and be present as their parent.

When I am absorbed with stress and anxiety, I am not in the moment. I am somewhere else in my mind and always thinking about what needs to be done next. Before I know it, I am running on empty and have nothing left to give.

Life pressures come from all sides and the to-do lists may seem endless. Prioritise things that are worth your energy and time, think about what has to be done today and what can wait. Create a list of activities that make you happy, whether it’s painting, reading, listening to music or going for a walk; sometimes the little things are all that’s needed to replenish the tank.

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    • EmmaMc

      Thank you! It’s hard finding time as a parent, just sitting down with a cuppa feels like an absolute luxury doesn’t it? Hope you manage to find some time to relax too!

  • communicatorstephanie

    I have chronic clinical depression and anxiety and all of these tips are things I have had to learn and continue to be intentional about putting into practice. I tend to be a people-pleaser, so it is hard for me to say no, but it’s necessary because my health suffers when I commit to too many things at once.

  • RawMum

    A very good reminder. It’s all common sense but that seems to be not so common any more! I wish you all the best and hope your empty space tactic works. #dreamteam

  • magicalmamablog

    More “me time” and self care are at the top of my list for this year! So important to get your head out of the every day madness and hit the reset button! Thanks for sharing!

  • nightwisprav3n

    Over the past three years I have made great strides in making time for self-care. It’s super important to make time for ourselves in order to be able to be better parents, better workers/employees/employers, and better people all around. It also helps raise our happiness meter because we are taking time-outs when we need too and being mindful of our mental and physical health. I also love to walk and write. These are just two of the things I do for self-care. Love your post! #anythinggoes

  • The Daisy Pages

    I love this post, self – care is so very important. I always figure that if you take the time out to rest up and recuperate once in a while (as often as you can) – then you’ll have plenty of energy and patience for when you really need it 🙂

  • Winnettes

    This is a great post. I always find writing so therapeutic and always have so the results of that study are not a surprise to me. I am a huge believer in self care. I am pleased the lump was nothing to worry about and I hope 2018 can be a much better year for you.
    Thank you for joining #ThursdayTeam

  • debsrandomwritings

    Hi Emma, it’s all too easy to forget to take care of ourselves. Just taking five minutes to catch a breath outside can make all the difference to our mood. I hope you make self-care a non-negotiable priority, and hopefully, that will help reduce your stress and anxiety.


    • EmmaMc

      It’s very easy to neglect looking after our wellbeing. It’s such a simple thing but it seems to be increasingly forgotten these days. I’m definitely working on it! Thank you for commenting and stopping by xx

  • Nicki T

    I have been making time for self care this year and have been feeling much better for it. I am practicing mindfulness which has helped me ground myself in tough situations. Even meditating for a few minutes a day has helped my mental health so much.

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