“You cannot pour from an empty cup” 

I love this quote. It is something which resonates with me so deeply, yet took me a long time to understand. Self-care, prioritising yourself, finding time for yourself – whichever way you put – is the act of filling up your cup. We live in a world of “busyness”, of constantly having to hustle and achieve bigger better things. Whilst those things are important, I really do believe they shouldn’t come at the expense of making yourself a priority. 

So what is self-care? It’s a term we hear a lot of and it doesn’t have one singular meaning. For me, self-care is about investing in yourself, and doing something small within your day that makes you feel completely “you” again. The beauty in acts of self-care is that there is no right or wrong way to go about it. It is important to remember that self-care doesn’t always look like face masks, hours of meditation, or candle-lit baths (although I do love all those things!). Some days self-care might look like switching off from social media for a couple of hours, sitting outside to have your coffee, saying no to something, putting on your favourite song. Whatever it is, it should serve you. 

  I believe self-care isn’t always about immediate gratification. This was a big misconception I had when starting out with prioritising self-care. I, maybe naively, thought that self-care always had to leave me with a warm, fuzzy feeling. Whilst, of course, sometimes self-care does involve those feelings, sometimes it is about making choices and steps that can be challenging. What do I mean by this? Sometimes self-care is about saying no to events, changing plans last minute, reaching out to an old friend who you haven’t spoken to or letting go of relationships that don’t serve you anymore. They are uncomfortable initially, but one of the most empowering things I have found in this journey has been learning to set boundaries. Setting boundaries has allowed me to surround myself with people, events and experiences which truly bring me so much joy. 

So what are my favourite ways to practise self-care?

I thought I would share my top 5 below: 

1. Nature – I love being outdoors. Walking, seeing friends or sitting outside doing nothing. I love being in the sun and connecting with nature. It brings me so much peace, boosts my mood, helps regulate my sleep and brings so much joy. 

2. Spending time with loved ones – I love spending time with family and friends. I love connecting and being fully present. I love creating memories. 

3. Setting boundaries – this is a work in progress. I am learning to say no to things when I need to, letting go of the guilt and saying yes to things which serve me. 

4. Baths – I know I said self-care doesn’t always look like a bath. But, honestly, I have a bath pretty much every day and it is such a simple way of helping me to fill up my cup. I love using Epsom Salts to relax my muscles and essential oils for calming. I find it helps to calm my busy mind, relax my body and help me chill out.

5. Mindfulness and breathing – I find myself so often with a clenched jaw, shoulders up around my ears and a million “to-dos” swirling around my brain. I have found taking 2-3 minutes to breathe, give myself some self-compassion and release tension so invaluable. I also tend to do a mindfulness meditation right before bed. I love the apps Smiling Minds or Insight Timer. There is no right or wrong way to go about mindfulness or meditation. Have fun with finding what works for you. 

My biggest takeaway?

Despite my best intentions and plans, life gets busy and self-care often gets pushed to the side. Because of this, I have had to make a conscious effort to insert little snippets of practice into my day, as well as responding to myself with compassion when I don't manage to get practise in. I treat my self-care as an opportunity to unwind and if it is feeling like a chore then I won't do it. I want self-care to be a positive time to reflect on how I am feeling and if it is becoming just another thing on my to-do list then, personally, I feel it's lost its purpose. 

When in doubt ask yourself “what do I need right now? What is the kindest thing I can do for myself right now?” 

Be kind and patient with yourself – growth and change take time. 

Written by Emily Kate @theessentialhome__