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SELF-CARE SEPTEMBER: Taofique Folarin, offers advice on how to give yourself the love and time you deserve

September is here and autumn is near. We’ve survived the heat waves and long summer days, perhaps even enjoying some fun and frolics with the odd gin and tonic. I hope you lived your best lives, as post-holiday blues and guilt from overindulgence and unaccomplished goals may soon come knocking. At this time of year, we can sometimes be left feeling overwhelmed, tired and not as refreshed, rested or revived as we might have hoped. 

Therefore, now is an ideal time to check in and show yourself some love. This month, I will share with you some of my favourite self-care tips to help me realign, ground and set myself up for the final quarter of the year in order to best handle new challenges that life may bring. 

What is self-care?  

Self-care should be a priority and not a luxury. Essentially, the term describes a person’s conscious act to promote physical, mental, and emotional health. It helps us build resilience to life’s stressors and puts us on track to living our best lives. It’s about taking care of yourself socially and spiritually, and in return, countless benefits can be experienced,  including, but not limited to: the reduction of anxiety, stress and depression; an improvement in happiness and energy; the avoidance of burnout; and stronger interpersonal relationships. Let me break it down for you.

THE PHYSICAL
I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but we only get one body in this lifetime, and if we want it to run efficiently and effectively, we have to take care of it. From ensuring you get enough sleep and fuel with nutritious food to looking after your appearance and hygiene, taking a moment to show your body some love can improve your confidence,  reduce stress, and improve your productivity.

An easy way to do this is to add thirty minutes of exercise or movement into your routine. This can be anything from a walk, jog, or run to a heavy lifting session, yoga, or dance. If you are unsure where to start, seek further advice from a professional like myself. In addition to this, why not treat yourself to a massage or spa treatment? If the purse strings are tight, a home spa is just as beneficial – just run a hot bath and indulge yourself. Our bodies hold stress as tension which can lead to bad posture and low mood; when we relax and release, the results are tenfold. 

THE MENTAL 

The way we think and how we deal with those thoughts has a crucial impact on our mental well-being. One thing I find useful is journalling, a therapeutic tool to record my thoughts on paper and reflect on my day. It’s very different for everybody, but an excellent place to start is to take five minutes to note strong emotions that may have come up recently, as well as experiences and your responses.

A complementary technique is writing a gratitude list. Showing gratitude keeps you aligned with the positive things in your life—our mindset shifts when we focus on all we have rather than what we lack. Try making a note of five things you are grateful for at the end of your day.

 

THE SOCIAL 

Our relationships and connections with others are linked to our well-being. To cultivate, improve, and maintain our meaningful relationships, they have to be nurtured with time and energy. Setting aside time to spend with friends and loved ones can be nourishing, uplifting and an essential part of self-care. Reach out to those closest to you and put that date in the diary to catch up. Sometimes, a phone call will even do.

 

THE EMOTIONAL 

We all experience negative feelings like guilt, shame, anger and sadness, as they’re part of the human experience. Knowing how to process our emotions when they arise, positive or negative, helps us look after our emotional state, which positively affects all of our relationships. Being mindful of emotions lets us stand back from the feeling and understand it, not fear it or struggle against it.

A time-honoured tool to deal with this is mindfulness and meditation, which have many benefits, including stress reduction, improving sleep and offering relief against chronic pain. They encourage you to acknowledge your feelings and thoughts, which will improve your emotional state. Taking five to ten minutes daily to check in with yourself can create better clarity of thought and there are many great apps and videos available that can guide you. 

Follow Taofique on Insta @taofiquefolarin

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