1. Recognise that self-care is crucial and plan for it
  2. Give yourself permission to say No to requests from others
  3. Aim for progress not perfection
  4. Use a strength in a new way
  5. Be nice to yourself

Self-care is not indulgent. At the most basic level we need to eat well, move often and sleep soundly in order to function optimally. A body and mind that are ill nourished, stressed or tired is just not as effective as one that is well looked after. However, other types of self-care, such as taking a break, being mindful and setting boundaries are just as crucial for our well-being. We are binary creatures in a digital age and whilst our brains are amazing they just can not cope with the input, stimulations and thousands of decisions we need to make every day. So make sure that every day has at least 10 minutes of planned time to reset and refocus. So if you can find time to clean your teeth and brush your hair, you can make time to invest in self-care.

Saying no does not come naturally to many of us who are conditioned to be people pleasing, good girls. As Megan Della- Camina says “you are busy with what you say yes to” and many of us are so busy because we have volunteered for too much. We agree to be on committees, run children’s sports, to drop off and pick up – for working mothers the list is endless. At work we say yes to things because we don’t want to let others down, or worse still, we don’t think we will be given the opportunity again if we say no.  It’s time to say “No”, ladies. If you really want to strengthen the NO muscle, practice saying it without also saying sorry. Try this one “Thanks for asking me but I will have to say no on this occasion.”

“Perfectionism is not the same thing has striving to be your best. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgement, and shame. It’s a shield. It’s a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from flight.”

– Brené Brown, The Gifts Of Imperfection

Perfectionism and its alter ego procrastination, are two things that eat away at your well-being and confidence if you let them. The self-care ritual is to recognise when perfectionism or procrastination is preventing you from taking action or following through – then do something, anything. Take the smallest step you can in the direction you are heading and keep taking small steps until momentum takes over. Then give yourself permission to stop, not when it is perfect but when it is good enough.

Strengths are things that we do well, do often and get joy from doing. People who know and use their strengths daily are significantly more satisfied and perform better on a range of well-being indicators. Self-care is understanding our unique strengths and being able to dial them up when required or finding new and novel  ways of using them in our work and life. Putting your strengths to work is a sure-fire way of overcoming procrastination. Take a look at your to-do list, I bet that your favourite work tasks aren’t on this list – we don’t need to write those down do we because we get satisfaction from undertaking them. Is there a way that you could use a strength in the more mundane or unappealing task?

Be nice to yourself. We are our own worst critic. The feedback we give ourselves is far worse than we would expect from any friend or even boss. The stories in our heads can be nasty – telling us we are not good enough, clever enough, organised enough, thin enough, deserving enough. Catch these stories, question their truth and practice telling yourself an alternative story. Show yourself the same kindness and compassion you show to others – they are not perfect either.