In last month's Buddy Box, I was delighted to find some delightful little Post-it notes and an a little explanatory postcard inviting me to take part in a challenge of undertaking daily acts of self-care for the following 365 days. Using the notepad you simply have to fill in the blank after "Today I will ..." with your chosen activity. I am delighted to take part in the challenge as it is exciting to get inventive about finding ways to nourish myself.

 For me personally self-care is doing anything to look after myself without the word "should" being involved. When "should" is in play there is an element of guilt involved, and often judgement. To be fully worthwhile it needs to be something that you want to do for nurturing yourself physically, spiritually or emotionally. Whilst self-care can involve soaking in a bath or donning a face mask and other pampering activities, there is a diverse range of activities possible. These will vary from person to person. I have been participating for two weeks now. I will share with you my list of activities from the first seven days to act as inspiration for your own challenge.

  1. ... be more mindful of the vocabulary used by my inner voice I believe that self-care needs to start internally and a good place to start is mindfulness. This does not mean instantly changing the vocabulary you use, rather it is about having awareness of how you are speaking to yourself before working out a strategy for changing it. Once you aware of the language and the emotion behind it, you are in a better position to move forward.

  2. ... make sure to stay hydrated I'm terrible for having an intense first on and doing my utmost to ignore it whilst trying fervently to complete a task. At times I let it get so bad that my head starts aching. This activity had a double benefit, as not only was I drinking more water, I was also being more active by getting up more to refill my glass. Staying hydrated is essential for our wellbeing, and indeed our survival. Our brains require adequate hydration for optimal function, maintaining a delicate balance between water and various elements. If you do not drink enough water that balance is disrupted and the cells lose efficiency.

3. ... get some fresh air at lunchtime Many of us spend the majority of our days glued to a computer screen at work, and in particularly busy periods we often either eat lunch at our desks or skip lunch entirely. We can be much more productive by taking some daily time out to replenish ourselves with a break. It was wonderful to get a screen break, enjoy some healthy food and top up on my vitamin D levels.

4. ... continue to have a detox from caffeine I have been suffering from fatigue for a while now, and quite often I'll try to (futilely) combat it with drinking copious amounts of tea and coffee. I had already been cutting it out in the two days preceding day four, getting a headache from withdrawal even on day one. I felt it would do me a lot of good to stay off it a little longer. Studies suggest that it can improve cognitive function in the short term, but it is thought to increases adrenaline levels which can cause irritability and anxiety, as well as temporarily raising blood pressure. It can also disrupt your sleep as it has around a six hour half-life. If you had 100mg of caffeine (your average cup of instant coffee) at mid-day, you would still have 50mg in your system by around 6pm.

5. ... go about my day having the idea "I love myself because ..." in mind This was quite a challenging one for me as I indulge in far too much negative self talk and berating. This day was about finding all of the qualities I adore about myself. One particularly intriguing example was "I love myself for my desire to improve myself". That was not rejecting my present self nor saying that I am not good enough as I am. The thought actually came with an intense feeling of self-acceptance, saying I love myself how I am but that I am striving for an even better me spiritually and emotionally.
6. ... go for a walk in the park Just down the road from my house is a beautiful green park that I had not actually stepped foot in since I moved into my own home I was actually surprised to find that via a road bridge it connected to another section with a lake that I had previously visited! The walk made for some lovely light exercise and had the added bonus of allowing me to marvel at nature, such as swans gliding across the lake water. Regular walking can improve your mood, strengthen your heart and lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. According to a Stanford study it even has a positive effect on creative thinking.

7. ... reflect on my positive qualities. " I am..." This was similar to day 5. However, I found it far easier and more rapid to fill in the blank. I am creative, kind, caring, beautiful, strong, supportive, a friend, valued, trustworthy, inspiring, courageous, flexible, deserving, important.


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