Why is self care important for you?
How good is it when we are feeling so good, that we smile to ourselves and just know we’re doing ok?
Feeling good doesn’t just happen by accident, it’s something that we have to consciously practice ourselves and it’s called self care.
So what is self care? Self care is a collection of daily activities and attitudes that help us reduce stress, maintain health and wellbeing so we can feel our best.
How do we practice self care and make a self care plan? - Firstly, it’s taking the time to acknowledge that when it comes to making ourselves smile and feel good it’s up to us to figure out what we need to do, the things we need in our lives that help us to thrive! Self care takes practice and it is not always easy!
It’s paying attention to your energy levels and how we manage them when we’re feeling a little flat and how we fill our tank (and I am not just talking about food, although it’s one of the main things we can control) but with things that make us feel good physically and psychologically.
So let’s talk about food and nourishing our body.
Our daily food choices affect our overall health and wellbeing and we choose foods that help us feel great - think about how good you feel after a meal that is full of veggies, protein and healthy fats, and that’s just in the moment.
Eating a healthy diet filled with vegetables, fruit, nuts, dairy, legumes & meat/ plant based proteins is one core part of self care, even the odd bit of soul/ fun food has its place. But you want to eat mostly nutrient rich wholefoods. This is why we choose a low/ lower carb way of eating, because it helps us feel our best. When it comes to low carb eating - it looks different for everyone.
What we eat has a massive impact on our energy levels, mood and how we manage stress and life changes. Even just modifying your current eating habits to adding more vegetables to your day or reducing the added sugars to your drinks/ meals can make a significant difference to our overall health.
If you’d like some tips on starting out on a low carb diet, we have compiled a great list of resources you may find helpful, take a look at our page ‘What is low carb?’ to find them.Anna also put together a great guide, 5 steps to low carb cooking, to make it even easier. Rather than recipes, it’s a simple ‘build your own’ low carb meal - which means you can pick what you like!
Do we have to meal prep to achieve good health?
Short answer is no, but... most people who eat well do some sort of grocery or menu planning and food prepping.
You can have a big impact on your health & your budget with a little planning, not to mention, the less time you spend stressing about what you want/ need to eat, the more time you have to spend on other things.
Like with any habit, getting into the routine of planning will take a little time and practice, but once it’s there it will take no time at all and you will only fine tune your process as you go.
How to get started?
Write down your favourite meals, ones that you have weekly. If you cook for others, ask them to suggest meals that you/ they like.
- What should you consider when planning your meals?Your time: Why not try making a dish with extra portions means you have another meal ready to go for later in the week? Or could you get an extra few meals in by doing some cooking on a Sunday? That way you are starting your week with some fantastic meals already planned - smarter
- Types of meals: not all meals are made equal or take the same amount of time!,there are meals that can be ‘thrown together’ e.g. Quick salad and some oven fish or picking up a BBQ chook. Cook meals that can be made in bulk, think bolognese sauce that can be used in many ways - on top of veggies, pasta and on top of a jacket spud. Grilled protein, a few different salad veggies - think open burgers, grills etc.
- Pantry Items: Consider what foods do you have on hand that can be added, or be the base to some awesome meals.
- Shop seasonally: What fruit and veggies are available during the season you are in?Take a look at our ‘What’s in Season?’ series looking at seasonal fruit and veg for each month of the year.
- Try new things: Meatless Mondays, Taco Tuesday - a fun way to try new recipes or new ways of eating, without being too overwhelming. Or how about Brinner? (Breakfast food at dinner time) 😉
- Visualise the plate: What does a healthy plate look like to you? Lots of veggies, protein and a small portion of legumes/ carbs (if your plan allows) and healthy fats. Create a menu plan that makes you smile with food you love to eat.
- Keep it flexible: Your meals should not be set in stone, change things up if you like. Have a night for takeaway if it suits your lifestyle - if someone in the home wants to cook something one night, let them (less stress for you) Have a clear out the fridge cook up, always handy right before your next grocery trip.
Food should be enjoyable and we should love what we eat and feel good about our choices. Preparing, cooking and eating is an act of love towards ourselves and others. Find ways to love the process and modify the process so it’s enjoyable for you.
Physical self care is important too - moving your body & why it’s so good for you.
Another way to make yourself smile is to move your body! Your mind, muscles, joints, bones and internal organs, every part of your body benefits from a variety of movement and exercise done daily.
What are the benefits of moving more?
- Increased Lung Capacity It feels SO great to be able to breathe deeply, feeling your body fill up with fresh clean air and exhaling all the old stale air. You will find yourself breathing deeper throughout the whole day.
- Happy Mindset Exercise, especially morning exercise, really gets you in a positive mindset which should make you smile more :-) Just 15 minutes in the morning makes you feel so good and really motivates you to make awesome food decisions for the rest of the day. It also promotes the release of those feel good chemicals (endorphins) - which makes us reduce stress and increase pleasure!
- Metabolism and Digestion Exercise speeds up all your body processes. It gets everything moving and makes you feel alive. When your digestion and metabolism are working well, it’s so much easier to lose weight.
- Burning kjs There’s no denying, the more you move the more fat you’ll burn. Your body needs energy to make it move. If you have no available glucose in your body then it will HAVE to burn fat!”
- Relaxation: Being active allows you to switch off. It’s a great way to focus on yourself and give your brain a rest.
- Sleep Exercise helps you sleep better! Being active during the day ensures a good, deep sleep that sees you waking up refreshed.
How to get started?
The best way to get started is to start small, simple stretches through the day is a great way to get in touch with how your body feels. If you’re new to exercise, start with just increasing your daily steps. Maybe this is enough for you and that’s fine.
If you’re itching to move more. Schedule in a gym session, a class or an outdoor session with some mates. Keeping it social and/ or choosing something that moves your body differently, is a way to challenge it a little. Getting stronger, becoming more mobile and flexible are all great things to focus on as we get older and you ALWAYS feel good afterwards, and that is the whole point right? To make yourself FEEL GOOD!
Prioritising Good Sleep.
I still think good quality sleep is the most underrated activity for self care. It’s one of the things that people struggle with most, and it’s something we try to achieve every night.
Committing to quality sleep takes work, as these days with the technological advances that we have, increased work, family and social pressures and us trying to get more done in our day has made this a little more challenging. Also we have many more distractions that keep us up later than we need to be.
Why is prioritising good sleep important?
Good quality sleep is critical for brain and body function. It strengthens your immune system and regulates your metabolism. Improves your mood and mental health and lowers the risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Improves focus and productivity. Basically we’d get more out of our day if we had better sleep habits rather than pull another all-nighter to get stuff done.
It’s also free, feels good and involves nobody else but you! All good reasons to make yourself smile 😊
How can we improve our sleep?
- Set a regular bedtime and waking time (even on the weekends if possible)
- Try not to ‘work’ in your bedroom, or on your bed.
- If you require some ‘downtime’ before bed, make sure you schedule it in, so you can switch off.
- Try and eat your dinner at least 2 hrs before you go to bed.
- Avoid bright lights at night or dim the lights in your living space/ bedroom in the evening.
- Limit liquids during the evening (to avoid having to get up to pee during the night)
- Create a ‘going to bed’ ritual, maybe you like to read before bed or have a calming tea. However, it’s a good idea not to stimulate your mind too much.
- Make your bed inviting. Ensure your pillows, sheets etc are super comfy so you look forward to it.
Personally I LOVE sleep! It’s my favourite thing to do for myself. I have a Galaxy Projector in my bedroom that I set to ‘sleep’ mode. It makes your bedroom look like space, it moves ever so slowly and puts you to sleep.You can set it to a timer, so it switches off. This makes going to bed even more fun! Highly recommend 🤓
Do stuff that makes you happy enough to smile!
While some factors are out of our control when it comes to happiness, life circumstances etc there are still a few things we can do for ourselves that boost our good vibes.
I hope this sparks the motivation for you to start your own list of things that make you feel good. Just making this list should make you smile, when was the last time you thought about all the things that make you happy?
- Turn up the tunes, blasting some of your favourite music feels good.
- Do some physical activity - even if it is just for a walk
- Get some sunshine
- Grab a coffee.
- Dance, even just at home
- Catch up with a friend or family member (Zoom is fine too)
- Clear some clutter (ok, I’m not saying you have to clean - but, how good does it feel when you clear a space, declutter something that has been annoying you for ages)
- Make plans to do something fun, planning something gives you a boost itself.
- Having a nice pampering shower or bath.
- Singing in the shower.
- Have a chuckle.
- Help someone.
- Show compassion.
- Practice mindfulness.
- Pat a puppy (or 2)
- Chat to some older people and bask in their stories
- Spend time with loved ones.
- Get off social media for a few hours.
- Read your favourite book.
- Hug your bestie.
- Fun with your partner 😉
- Watch your favourite show or listen to your fave podcast
- Wear your favourite outfit
- Treat yourself, buy yourself something special.
- Say no to something. (Trust me, saying no can feel really good sometimes)
As they say, you can’t pour from an empty cup. If you want to be the best for your partner, family, kids, friends, co-workers and your community, it starts with you looking after yourself and making yourself smile! X