You want to look after yourself more, but seriously, who has the time (or energy) for that.
And really, what difference would it make anyway?
I get it.
When my children were young and didn't sleep very much self-care seemed like a luxury that I would get to , one day. I so wish I'd realised then, how incorporating little things that fitted what I was going through (no time, money or energy!) could make a difference.
Did you know that every time you make a choice you lose something? It’s called opportunity cost. It’s unavoidable because you can’t be in two places at once, you can’t browse Facebook and get the dishes done, you can’t eat pizza and fish and chips and Chinese for dinner – you have to make a choice.
And choosing to engage in self-care, or not…..
…is no different.
But first let’s take a brief detour and let me dispel a myth for you. Self-care is not all about pedicures, massages and pampering. Sure, whilst there’s no doubt that some people love this and it helps them rejuvenate themselves; it’s only one, small, aspect of self-care.
Self-care is all about YOU looking after your physical and mental health. The action you take can be positive, practical and personalised. That’s the best type of self-care – finding out what you need and doing what works for you.
Back to the opportunity cost of NOT prioritising self-care.
Not being mindful (one of the key self-care tools) can lead to forgetfulness, missing non-verbal cues in conversations and harming connection, not being present for the best moments in the day, missing the everyday beauty around you.
Not doing something that brings you joy can lead to resentment and sadness.
Not practicing gratitude can lead to envy and jealousy.
Not exercising can lead to depressed mood.
Not reaching out to others when you are feeling lonely can lead to increased isolation and lack of connection..
Not practicing self-acceptance can lead to a feeling of not being worthy and not speaking up for yourself.
Not going to the doctor can lead to undiagnosed and untreated physical illness.
Not enforcing boundaries can lead to burnout and a deep sense of being taken for granted.
So, in answer to the question that was posed at the start – what difference does engaging in self-care make anyway?
Incorporating positive, practical, self-care strategies that reflect YOUR needs can make a world of difference to your health, your mood, your life.
Now, just because it’s self-care, I really, really want to stress one thing.
You don’t have to do it all by yourself. I am here to help you work out what you need, what strategies will work best for you and your circumstances, and to teach you positive, practical strategies that take very little time.
Just to show you that these strategies don’t have to take long, here’s a simple one for you to try.
Look up from reading this and find something that catches your eye and makes you smile. Allow yourself to focus on this feeling and the thoughts that go with it. Maybe it’s something your chid made, maybe you bought it for a special reason, or at a special place. Maybe it is just beautiful or was given to you by a special person. Then, if this thing is cluttered by other things, make space for it to shine by itself.
That’s it. You have just practiced self-care. You have touched on emotional self-care, connection and meaning. You have also practiced using you Awe and appreciation of beauty muscle.
If you feel inclined to send me a quick email, I would love to know how you went with this exercise.
Ever shut up instead of standing up? Ever allowed others to shine whist dimming our own light. The world needs you to be at your best.
I talk about this and what may be stopping you in the latest podcast. How to stand up instead of shutting up. What it takes to express your authentic self.
Until next time, take care xx
Last year I wrote the below article. As our children go back to school this question is even more relevant. What plans do schools have to help children going back to school after this huge disruption to their lives? Are there adequate resources, support, and understanding?
The elephant in the room - what do we do with students with mental health difficulties?
I want to start my saying that my mother was school teacher, and I grew up with a lot of respect for the good teachers, the ones who worked hard to understand and then educate their students.
And I still believe that the vast majority of teachers have the best intentions, and just like our students, they do well if they can.
Over the last 10 years as an independent child and adolescent psychologist I have witnessed school and teachers who do not know what to do when a student has acute and/or chronic mental health difficulties. When we look at understanding why a child is not learning well in the classroom it is not enough to look at cognitive abilities the emotional wellbeing of a student must be taken into account. In our school system there are both systemic gaps, knowledge gaps and understanding gaps.
The World Health Organisation states that half of all mental health conditions start by 14 years of age and “most cases are undetected and untreated”. And “globally, depression is one of the leading causes of illness and disability among adolescents” https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/adolescent-mental-health.
About 10-20% of adolescents experience mental health problems. In a classroom of 30 children that means 3-6 on average. In a school of 1200 that is 240 students. This is not an elephant that should be ignored and dealt with on an ad hoc basis.
We may be increasing the number of counsellors and psychologists in schools, but is that helping? How far is it going? Do schools think that because a student has an appointment a session a week or a fortnight, or is seeing an outside psychologist that that is enough.
I am asking these questions to school leaders, parents, teachers, mental health professionals. These are aimed at encouraging conversation. Possible answers and/or best practices to some of these topics will be addressed in future articles. For now consider the following.
Knowledge and Understanding
These and many other questions need to be answered.
Let’s carry on the conversation. Whether you are a principal, a teacher, a parent or a school psychologist/counsellor/welfare worker – what is your school doing? Let’s share, what is working, what isn’t, where are the gaps in understanding, knowledge and systems.
As you may already know, podcasts are my go to at the moment. Whether it be catching up with the latest in psychology, business or self-development, I have a range I can choose from according to the move. Some are great for listening to in the car, some when I’m lying down resting, some for when I can’t sleep in the middle of the night, and others when I’m really in the mood to learn something new.
In fact, they are a perfect way for mums to learn. Some podcasts are short, some are longer, so you can pick and choose.
Below is a list of my top 6 favourites at the moment, although they do change from time to time.
Private Practice with Soul by Dr Brooklyn Storme.
The Content 10x – Amy Woods
Brand You Personal Branding – Mike Kim
Marketing that Converts by Teresa Heath-Wareing
Potential Psychology – Ellen Jackson
Parental as Anything ABC radio.
And a special shout out to two really new podcasts
Phoenix Rising with Gallagher Psychology by Patricia Gallagher, and
Course Creation Bites by Sam Winch
And of course I love my own (because it would pretty terrible if I didn’t!)
Creating Connections that Matter by Kim Dunn.
Do you listen to podcasts? If you've listened to mine I would love to know what you think, and I am always interested in what you would like to hear more of, simply drop me a quick email.
* My aim is for these posts is meant to useful, interesting and/or inspiring. They are not designed to be used for therapy.. If you are experiencing stress please contact your GP or mental health professional.
Kim Dunn is a Child Psychologist and Founder of Positive Young Minds.