The importance of self-care

woman in yoga pose on rock above lake

This post is prompted by some sad news: the death of a musician I was a big fan of over the years. Shockingly he was around my age. I touched upon how musicians can be affected by the stress of their profession in my last post, which may or may not be relevant in his case. But as self-care has cropped up repeatedly lately, it seemed a good time to discuss it.

Self-care: you can’t pour from an empty cup

I gave a talk at a local business networking group a couple of weeks ago, and the conversation turned to exactly this. Everyone there was running a small businesses – all women, many bringing up children at the same time. Some commented that the brief guided visualisation I conducted as part of the session was the first time they had relaxed in months. Not unusually, some of them felt guilty when they took time out for themselves. I replied that if they didn’t care for themselves, would they be giving the best service possible to their clients?

Unfortunately we live in a culture that fetishises hard work, with predictable consequences. Burn-out is endemic, people spend less time with their loved ones, and everyone suffers. It’s not selfish to take time each day to nurture yourself. By that I mean things like taking time to cook a nutritious meal instead of grabbing a take-away. Or spending quality time with people – preferably with phones off! Maybe taking a walk in nature. Or meditating: there are plenty of guided visualisations on Youtube if you’re not sure where to start. Basically anything that gets you to slow down, breathe, and reconnect with the world around you. Do you ever notice how much calmer you feel around someone who is calm themselves? Well, you can be that person! And you can try for yourself right now, if you like – check out this download and see how refreshed you feel after fifteen minutes.

Self-care: you don’t have to go it alone

If you need some support and encouragement along the way, there are many therapists – including myself of course – ready to help. Therapy centres often run open days so why not try some different therapies and see what feels best for you? Many therapists, again including myself, offer free consultations, so you can decide whether they offer what you need (my contact details if you’d like to get in touch).

Some people find the potential cost off-putting. Consider it an investment rather than an expense. Besides, a session with someone providing meaningful support costs about the same as a night in the pub. And a good therapist doesn’t just help you work through the issues holding you back. They will also teach you skills and strategies to take away and use to better the rest of your life. Who can put a price on that?

I’ll end by sharing my favourite form of self-care – sitting in my lovely garden with headphones on, listening to music I love. And so it seems appropriate to close this post with a track by the wonderful musician who prompted me to post it. RIP Ben.