Selfcare has become a bit of a pop term in recent years – and although I am grateful to see this trend putting focus on the importance of looking after your physical and mental health, I have seen it narrow the meaning of the term selfcare and turn a lot of people away from the idea because they associate it with being precious, self-absorbed or even lazy.
Yes – that’s right – wildlifers I’m looking at you! If the term selfcare kinda makes you cringe and wanna stop reading this article – I would encourage you to take a deep breath and give it a go – because often we resist what we need the most.
ESPECIALLY in a passion-based industries like ecology and wildlife conservation where burnout and exploitation can be rife – there’s NEVER been a better time to talk about selfcare.
So, stay with me!
And I don’t just mean bubble baths, face masks and herbal teas – of course these are all great things to do if they help YOU calm your mind and look after the wellbeing of your mind and body, but the important word to focus on is self – it’s all about finding what works and doesn’t work for you
SO, WHAT even IS SELFCARE?
First of all, if the term selfcare triggers or deters you in anyway, feel free to replace it with terms like personal time/care/maintenance, mindfulness or mental and physical wellbeing.
Selfcare is basically, the time and space you take just for you, the activities you do to replenish and nourish and relax your mind and body. And yes, while it looks different for everyone but it is still important for everyone (whether they recognize it or not!).
Working out what works for you and tuning into what your mind and body needs to cope (and thrive!) in this crazy world is a process is best achieved by prioritising time and space just for you. It’s lots of fun – so putting time aside, say an hour every week, is a great way to start doing this.
And its lots of fun – taking time for yourself to relax, to learn new skills and find out what’s important to you – so enjoy the journey!
After all, when you start taking care of yourself, you start feeling better, you start looking better and you start to attract better. It all starts with you.
THE BENEFITS OF SELFCARE
I get it – implementing a selfcare practice can certainly be easier said than done – especially in a passion-based industry like ecology and wildlife conservation where burnout and exploitation can be rife – and especially early on at entry level when you don’t have the routine or security that comes with doing a longer-term job.
Although it can be challenging, respecting your own time and boundaries, and cultivating the confidence to ask other people (especially colleagues, supervisors and employers) to do the same is an important step towards increasing selfcare in ecology and leading by example.
HOW TO: SELFCARE AND ECOLOGY
So today, we’re not talking about what you can do to take care of yourself (after all, selfcare is all about what YOU like – and looks different for everyone). Rather, we’ll look at some strategies you can adopt to increase the time and space you take to looking after your physical and emotional wellbeing. Here are 5 ways to start doing this:
- Implement hard boundaries
- Start a selfcare practice
- Feel present and grounded
- Feel appreciation
- Feel motivated and inspired
Let’s jump into it –
1. Implement hard boundaries
These can be in the form of setting a hard knock off time from work (it’s rarely “just 5 more minutes”), letting your colleagues, managers and students know that you won’t be contactable out of hoursas well as avoiding even “little things” like checking emails, marking papers, writing just one paragraph, proofreading – whatever it is during time off.
You’ll get a much better break – both mental and physical – when you have the discipline to completely switch off from work or other stresses in your life.
2. Implement a selfcare routine
Setting a regular time and space for selfcare is a great way to make it a part of your routine (AKA to actually practice it on a regular basis).
Selfcare can be exploratory and fun – it doesn’t have to be bubble baths, green tea or facemasks if those things don’t help you to relax and reset. For us wildlifers, selfcare is often a walk in nature by yourself, watching through a season on Netflix, listening to a podcast, journaling or drawing, taking a long shower and washing your hair, the list goes on.
If you’d like to know what selfcare could look like to you, a good place to start is by asking yourself questions like: “How am I feeling right now?” “What does my body need?” “What are things I like doing?” “What can I do to look after me?”
3. Feel present and grounded
Mindfulness is SO important for appreciating your present moment as part of your journey and we have a whole post on Mindfulness in Ecology so be sure to check that out if you’d like more ideas on this.
4. Feel appreciation
Gratitude has so many benefits and we have a whole post on Gratitude in Ecology so be sure to check that out if you’d like more ideas on this.
5. Feel motivated and inspired
Setting and achieving goals is a great way to see progress and find exciting things to look forwards to in your life – and we have posts on Goal Setting in Ecology and setting specific goals so check them out if you’d like more ideas on this.
So, enjoy your down time and recognize your worth both inside and outside of work or other commitments. And let us know how you go!
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Itís difficult to find knowledgeable people for this topic, but you sound like you know what youíre talking about! Thanks