The past few years have been extremely hard on everybody in different ways, with lockdowns, loadshedding and recessions. With life starting to return to normal, many of us are still reeling and struggling to cope with the hustle and bustle we were once so used to.
If you’ve been feeling down, I can assure you – you are not alone. When we’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s so easy to neglect the self. Looking after our mental health has never been such a priority. bounti believes in the wholeness and holistic wellbeing of the individual – inside and out.
Why is self-care so important?
I always compare self-care to the air mask analogy – when you get on an airplane, you make sure your own air mask is on securely before you assist others with theirs. We simply cannot help or benefit others without taking care of ourselves first. The pursuit of happiness and health is seldom selfish.
Self-care is also something that is so often misinterpreted as ‘pampering’ or ‘luxurious’, when, in reality, it’s a necessity to maintain sanity in our busy lives. Putting ‘me time’ on the back burner is one of the main reasons why we can sometimes feel run-down, frenzied and burnt-out. Self-care is vital in staying resilient through tough times, which are a dime-a-dozen recently.
Modern life seems to revolve around either working ourselves to the bone or spending months in lockdown with close to nothing to do. These are two very drastic extremes to adjust to, so it’s critical to be kind to yourself and prioritise self-care.
What is self-care?
Contrary to popular belief, self-care is not all mani-pedis and face masks. According to VeryWellMind, self-care has been defined as "a multidimensional, multifaceted process of purposeful engagement in strategies that promote healthy functioning and enhance well-being". Essentially, this means self-care is a conscious act taken to promote one’s mental, physical and emotional health.
According to the World Health Organisation, self-care can promote health, prevent disease, and help people better cope with illness. Through practicing self-care, you’re also likely to experience:
- Stronger interpersonal relationships
- Increased life-fulfilment
- Decreased risk of anxiety and depression
- Better self-esteem
- Improved overall wellbeing
Self-love vs. self-indulgence
A lot of the reason why people neglect self-care is because it’s so often confused with self-indulgent behaviour. This misconception makes us feel guilty for needing a break or doing anything for ourselves.
It’s important to spoil yourself once in a while, however know your own line. Treats are healthy in moderation, but excess treats lead to self-indulgence, which is not a sustainable route to health and happiness. If we had treats all the time, they would lose their appeal, and we’d lose our appreciation for them. Like I always say – balance makes perfect.
Self-love is sometimes tough love
Taking care of oneself involves a lot of discipline. Sometimes, self-love involves showing up for yourself and taking care of yourself, even when you really don’t want to.
Sometimes, we need to do tedious, boring or hard things in order to benefit ourselves in the future. Self-love is squeezing in that extra hour of early morning work, so that you can have an extra hour of ‘me-time’ later in the day, or waking up extra early to exercise because that’s the only time to squeeze it in.
Do the hard stuff now, and your future self will thank you and love you for it.
Our relationship with ourselves
The relationship we have with ourselves, although so often neglected, is actually the most important. While others come and go, the only person you cannot get away from is you.
You’re stuck with you, so think of your relationship with yourself as though it’s a relationship with a significant other – it requires effort, commitment and nurturing. It also involves discipline, sacrifice, respect and effort.
While it can be hard to love yourself, life is harder when you hate yourself – so pick your hard. It’s better to put effort into growing your relationship with yourself, rather than spending your life being miserable as a result of hating yourself.
You have to wake up with yourself every day and go to sleep with yourself every night, so make sure you’re kind, you forgive and you take care of YOU.
Types of self-care
1. Mental self-care
The ways in which we think and the things to which we expose our minds tend to have great influence over our psychological wellbeing. It’s so important to expose your mind to content that inspires you, challenges you to think or interests and educates you.
It’s important to fill your mind with positive practices, such as positive self-talk and self-compassion and acceptance. Having good self-esteem and a healthy relationship with yourself is largely dependent on having a healthy inner-dialogue.
The world is full of harsh words and critique — don’t add yours to the mix. Speak kindly to yourself and celebrate yourself! If you have trouble with this, practice self-compassion by talking to yourself in the same way you would to a close friend or a younger sibling.
Make time for mentally-stimulating activities, and be proactive in ensuring your mental health.
2. Spiritual self-care
Nurturing your spirit doesn't have to involve religion. It can involve anything that helps you develop a deeper sense of meaning, faith understanding, or connection with the universe or a higher power.
You can express this spiritual self-care through meditating, attending religious events or praying.
3. Emotional self-care
On a daily basis, we go through various emotions – some days more than others. Regardless of what these emotions are, it’s critical to have healthy coping mechanisms in dealing with the more uncomfortable ones like anxiety, sadness, anger and fear.
Emotional self-care involves acknowledging and allowing yourself to express your feelings regularly, healthily and safely. If you’re feeling angry, consider taking a walk or doing some exercise to release the tension and clear your head. If you’re feeling sad, try talking to a close friend or family member for support.
Journaling is also a particularly useful tool for processing, understanding and expressing emotions in a way that is psychologically healthy. It can also be helpful in recognising patterns in your emotional responses to certain situations, as it provides a tangible record of them. Therefore, it can make you more in tune with your feelings and result in healthier, more self-aware emotional responses.
4. Physical self-care
Self-care actually starts with taking care of yourself physically, which includes nutrition, stress reduction and exercise. There’s such a strong mind-body connection – feeling good often starts from the outside in. It’s impossible to nurture your mind and soul when you haven’t taken good care of your body first.
Ways to practice self-care
Getting outdoors is a great way to improve your mental and physical health. It’s so beneficial for your brain to get some fresh air and a change of scenery. Living in an area with more greenery, such as parks and gardens is associated with greater life satisfaction and less mental stress.
Consider taking your workouts into nature as well. Rebounding enables you to train absolutely anywhere at any time. One of the ways I stayed sane during lockdown was bouncing outside every day. Even now, I really enjoy hiking with my family or even heading to a lovely park on a Saturday or Sunday morning. There’s something about being out and about in nature that really puts life and all its stresses into perspective, and makes it all a little bit easier to handle.
Be mindful to stress less
We all know the dreadful feeling of stress. In moderation, stress can actually be good for motivation, however in excess, it can be a real burden on your health.
With all of life’s challenges, that are oftentimes unavoidable, it’s difficult not to succumb to stress. However, it’s important to have stress management strategies in place to help you tackle these challenges to the best of your ability.
Mindfulness can really help with this. Although it may be difficult to focus on the present moment in a world that is constantly demanding our attention, it’s definitely worthwhile to at least try. Studies have shown that mindfulness improves wellbeing and reduces stress.
Meditate and try yoga
Meditation proves that you don’t have to spend tons of time to benefit your mind and body. A few minutes of some quiet time can boost emotional stability and relieve stress.
It’s no surprise that yoga is a healthy practice. It can also relieve anxiety, stress, tension and depression, all while boosting energy levels and improving your overall sense of well-being.
If you don’t know where to start with meditation or yoga on your wellness journey, you should consider trying our bounti Boga Programme. Join Yogi Paige in this world-first blend of rebounding and yoga practice. Boga is a full mind, body and soul practice that allows you to reconnect with yourself, uplift your spirit, rewind and relax. The aim of the programme is to build a strong mind through rebounding, yoga and meditation.
Move your body
It doesn’t matter how or for how long. It can be a full hour workout or just some dancing. Whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed, just move around. Staying active doesn’t only burn calories, it also improves your mood, body image and quality of life.
Try rebounding! One of the absolute best feel-good styles of rebounding is Tertia’s bounti Beat and Burn classes. Tertia’s contagiously happy energy, positivity and motivation blend with the natural joy that comes with dancing, and the endorphins of rebounding exercise. Tertia’s upbeat playlist is also guaranteed to put a smile on your face!
Nourish your body
Add more fruits and veggies to your plate to practice self-care all throughout the day. Studies show that eating berries may boost brain health, and peppers may help to reduce the risk of Parkinson’s. It’s also important to make sure you’re getting a healthy balance of all the other important macro-nutrients.
Get enough beauty sleep
There are sometimes things that get in the way of our sleep – whether it’s a late night at the office, catching up on Netflix or a fun night with friends. While it’s okay to get fewer hours of shuteye occasionally, skimping on sleep consistently can wreak havoc on your body.
Sleep deprivation can hurt your productivity levels, influence your diet and dietary decisions and may even lead to diabetes or heart disease. Prioritise sleep for a healthier and happier you, even if you have to catch a quick cat nap when you have a gap in your busy day.
Indulge in a massage
One of my personal favourites – I love a good massage. When I’m too stressed, it’s just what I need to soothe both my mind and my muscles. Massage can also improve sleep quality, and reduce stress.
With our increasingly technology-driven society, it feels like everyone these days is glued to a screen – myself included! It’s no wonder we feel overwhelmed when everyone has access to our attention at any and all times of the day. As a social media presence and owner of an online business, I definitely struggle with this and often feel like I’m drowning in messages. With so much online migration as a result of the pandemic, I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels like this!
Studies also show that our Facebook and Instagram scrolling is actually depressing us, especially our younger generation. We often compare ourselves to filter-perfect pictures we see online. Some of us spend almost 11 hours a day staring at a screen, and it’s not making us any happier.
I really have to focus on taking deliberate breaks from social media and all my devices in order to recharge and give my brain some much-needed downtime.
See a friend
Socialisation is key to self-care. Often, it's difficult to make time for our friends. It's so easy to neglect our relationships when life gets busy. However, close connections are important to maintain for our well-being. Human beings are social by nature!
The best way to cultivate and maintain close relationships with others is to put time and energy into building and fostering relationships. Everyone has different social needs. Figure out what yours are and build enough time in your schedule to create an optimal and fulfilling social life.
Stop worrying about others
While we are socialised to be competitive beings, it can be dangerous when comparison exceeds healthy competition. Focus on yourself and your own journey. If you are competitive by nature, make sure that it doesn’t reach dangerous levels or too strongly affect your mental wellbeing. It’s also helpful to focus on competing with yourself in order to become the best possible version of yourself, instead of focusing so much on others.
In the same vein of not worrying so much about others, try not to worry about what society thinks or expects of you. Although it’s easier said than done, take it from me as someone in the public eye, it’s impossible to please everyone – someone will always have something to say. While it’s good to take constructive criticism into account, don’t waste your time or energy trying to please everyone.
The bottom line
bounti fundamentally believes that when it comes to truly holistic health, mental and physical wellness are intrinsically intertwined. Investing in caring for yourself is the best thing you can do. Focus on holistic living and view your mental, physical, spiritual and emotional health as equally important. It's not selfish to focus on yourself first – you need to be in a position to give from a full cup.