It’s easy to stick to your guns when things are going well. Staying on track with goals, eating healthy, exercising, delivering at work, self care habits.
But what happens when things don’t follow the path you planned?
I’d argue that’s when you need self-care the MOST and not just the ‘I had a hard day I’m going to take a bubble bath’ kind of self-care that fills your Instagram feed.
When things don’t go our way we can be really quick to judge and blame ourselves, to treat ourselves badly and punish ourselves for some perceived flaw or mistake. And that can make the situation 10 times worse. We can slip into bad habits, neglect our wellbeing and retreat from our life.
What really needs to happen at this point is the exact opposite. We need to show and tell ourselves we’re deserving of good things and that we’re capable of surviving whatever stress we’re facing. Looking after ourselves gives us the best possible chance of coping with the situation better.
1. Get curious not judgemental
Instead of blaming yourself, the world or the situation – get curious instead. Ask yourself what you can learn from the situation, explore what’s happening and consider different ways to manage it or work with it. Get advice or support if needed to do this, working with a coach is a great option.
2. Speak kindly to yourself
This isn’t about negating your responsibility if you need to take on board some lessons, but you can be gentle and kind to yourself in the process of doing this. What lessons can you take away, where could you improve and what could you learn for next time? On the flip side what did you do well, what has been achieved and what can be built on in future.
3. Don’t neglect your physical wellbeing
When we’re stressed we often turn to food (and booze!) for comfort. It’s easy to believe you’re coping with a bad day when you pour a glass of wine at the end of a long day or devour a chocolate bar, but that simply dulls the senses and provides a quick fix. Respect your body enough to fuel it well with a varied balanced diet, that can include wine and chocolate but it’s a good idea to add some healthy fats, protein and vegetables too! Getting some exercise fills your body with endorphins and lifts your mood, even if that’s just going for a walk.
4. Get some shut eye
When we’re stressed or facing challenging situations, it’s not uncommon to find your sleep is interrupted or different to normal. We can find it hard to sleep, have nightmares or just find we’re restless. Do your best to create a relaxing bedtime routine, ban tech from your bedroom and try journaling before you go to bed to get your thoughts on paper so you’re not holding onto them during the night.
Mel Noakes is the author of The Little Book of Self-Care published by Penguin. She is one of the UK's leading health coaches and self-care experts. Her vision is for a world where people embrace their uniqueness, nourish their bodies and thrive. She has shared the stage with Denise Lewis, Victoria Pendleton and Madeline Shaw, and written for various publications including The Huffington Post and HATCH.
Find out more about Mel at her website here www.melnoakes.com