Welcome to the second installment of my October guest blog series on SELF-CARE. Today I am sharing a beautiful and thought-provoking blog by the lovely LizBu at BuBakes. LizBu talks about her personal journey towards realising the importance of self-care and looking after herself. She brings you through a range of really helpful self-care ideas described under the titles stop, look, start. I know it gave me a lot to think about, I hope it does for you too.
LizBu describes herself as a passionate and persistent soul; who is ridiculously happy when up to her eyes in fondant and frosting. She is the proud owner of BuBakes, a beautiful cake business. She loves the fact that making bespoke cakes allows her to give people something to suit their exact needs, adding that extra bit of awesomeness to their occasion! LizBu is also passionate about advocating and writing about mental health, having experienced her own mental health issues. BuBakes is committed to reducing the stigma attached to Mental Health, and personally donates 25p for every order received to MIND. This is kindly matched by three generous supporters, meaning a £1 donation is made per order.
Ok. This is possible. I'm a fairly sturdy individual. I live in a lovely flat; I have food in my stomach. I've managed to make it into my 4th decade on this planet, so I must be able to look after myself. Right?
I am guessing that when I was asked to write this piece, nobody was after a run down of how I manage to keep myself physically functioning each day. I don't need to lecture on the pros of drinking lots of H2O, getting regular exercise, or those all-important 8 hours of kip. We all know the basics of what we should and shouldn't do, so what DO you want to read about?
I'll tell you the truth, I have had periods of time when I haven't looked after myself, and I have got all the basics wrong. I've drank my body weight in dubious looking (and let's face it, tasting) shots, I've been a 30-Marlboro-lights-a-day girl, and I even allowed myself to fall into the morbidly obese category for a long period of time. So if I have got these basics wrong in the past, how can I speak about looking after myself?
To clarify here, imagine walking and getting an angry phone call telling you you're late and to hurry up, the problem being that you don't know where you're meant to be. Imagine dashing about hoping you'll stumble on your destination, and every hour having another angrier phone One thing that was wrong with me for a long time was the fact I didn't value myself. I didn't know what I was meant to be, and I spent so much time trying to be the person that I felt I needed to be. Yes, I spent all my energy either trying to be someone when I didn't know who that person was, or partaking in whatever I could that would give the proverbial two fingers up to that mystery entity. No wonder I was an internal car crash. call shouting at you to get a move on.
Imagine that happening every day for 20 years. That is where I had got to before my "phone" exploded, and I imploded.
When you go from the above to someone who becomes housebound and can't speak to anyone, not even his or her friends or family, you end up being stuck with yourself. Then there is no hiding.
This is an extreme way of stopping the cycle, I literally got to the point where I had no choice, and I wouldn't wish that on anyone. Therefore my first tip for looking after you is STOP.
STOP right where you are, take a mental snapshot of your life, and take a few minutes to look at that picture and evaluate what's going on.
STOP being such a bitch. Would you speak to your best friend in this way? If the answer is no, why do you allow yourself to be spoken to like that by you?
Time to LOOK
Pick the people around you carefully. When you leave them do you feel enlightened, lifted and capable? Would they have your back if you needed it? Do they believe that you can achieve amazing things? If the answer to these is no then ask yourself what you do get from them.
When we struggle to keep on top of things ourselves we need to have our cheering squad. I’m not talking about having "yes" people, these can actually be even more dangerous than no people. I mean the people who have opinions that you respect; people who don't care about whether you earn 10k or 100k and the people you can see yourself being old and wrinkled with.
Is there anything in that mental photo you took that makes your heart drop? Is there something that doesn't quite sit 'right' with you? Jot it down. Don't worry about doing this, there's no pressure to act on it. Just jot it down.
Once you have identified your cheering squad, speak to them. Book in times to see them. Even if that means having 4 meetings scheduled over the next 12 months. It will do you good to know that you have time with them blocked out. If you can do this with three people you can easily have one date a month booked in for the next year.
Be selfish, spend time with the people who make you feel good - just make sure you let them know that they help you. Believe me, if people know that they have this impact it will increase even further over time. It's a wonderful thing.
If like me you feel guilty about taking time for yourself, then make it obligatory. Fool yourself. Have fun with it. In my flat I have a reward chart. At the start of the moth I set goals that will consistently keep me aware of my health. For example rather than having a goal of "lose x lbs." (With which I could spend three weeks eating anything, and then one week starving myself to ensure I hit it) I have "do 20 minutes of guided meditation twice every four days" I then divide my rewards squares into 4 day blocks and I write in the appropriate box when I've done a session.
Do you too guilty about having a reward at the end of a successful month? Then make it someone else's fault!
I rope a friend or my hubbie in to use the system with me, and we specify a joint reward that we only get if we have BOTH hit all our goals. For example in a couple of weeks my husband and I are away for a few days. We have agreed that if we have both completed our charts we will have a day at a spa. So at the moment I spend an average of 20 minutes every other day meditating (which makes me feel so energized - and I will do this over the course of a whole month. Plus then I may get a day at a spa. The best thing is that all of this is to keep someone else happy, so there is no guilt - Result!
You know the element of the "photo" you jotted down? Grab a member of your cheering squad and tell them that you have a niggle about it. Better yet challenge them to a month of eating your 5 a day/going for a daily walk/switching off Facebook after 6pm, and then talk to them about it all as you relax in a spa sipping quality iced H2O!
I could babble on for hours about the other ways my life and attitude has changed over the past 18 months, and I could try to give you all my hints and tips. However to be honest it is about finding what's right for you. It's cliché but it's true. If something sounds good then try it, if not then keep looking. Also, do check out my blog on bubakes.co.uk for more examples of how I manage my anxiety, depression and wellbeing.
I hope at least one of those three things helps you, for me it's a combination that has helped me stay on top.
Thank you for reading, and giving me an opportunity to share my puzzlings with you all. It has been a real honour, and selfishly I have taken a great deal from it.