Self-care, in general, is something that we all need. It is vital for our well-being and if we don’t give ourselves the time to rest and recuperate, then we pay for it. Especially with chronic illness and when it comes to ostomy life.

In this blog post, I am going to explain what self-care is, explore some of the ways in which self-care can be practiced and also, explain some of the barriers to self-care. See this blog post as your cue too… If you haven’t set any time aside recently for yourself, this is your reminder! Put some time aside now!

What is self-care?

Self-care means different things to different people, but generally, it is looking after yourself so that you can go about your daily life without experiencing negative repercussions with your health. Of course, some of these things such as being ill are not within our control, but there are things we can do to bring ourselves comfort and get the rest that our bodies need.

Examples of self-care

You may see self-care as something that’s split into different types of health that you need to look after. Examples include things to look after your physical, mental, emotional, spiritual well-being.

Physical self-care

Examples of looking after your physical health include:

  • A healthy sleep routine
  • Exercise
  • Eating healthily
  • Choosing to go to the gym
  • Spending time outdoors

Mental and emotional self-care

  • Restricting time on social media and/or taking a digital detox. Disconnecting to reconnect!
  • Saying “no” to things that cause unnecessary stress
  • Seeing a friend for coffee
  • Reading a book
  • Meditating
  • Writing your thoughts down
  • Listening to music

Spiritual self-care

  • Meditating
  • Keeping a gratitude journal
  • Watching or listening to inspirational talks
  • Spending time in nature
  • Practicing yoga
  • Clearing your space
  • Connecting with nature and those around you

Self-care with chronic illness and an ostomy

Some of the above things may not feel attainable with chronic illness and/or an ostomy. For me, sometimes I feel that what can seem as the smallest acts of self-care can make the biggest difference. It’s not always cliché bubble baths, candles and doing yoga. Sometimes, it’s choosing to eat instead of not. It’s choosing to drink decaffeinated tea and not caffeinated. It’s reminding yourself that following old, negative behaviours won’t get you where you want to be, even if they feel good at the time. It’s not setting an alarm or it’s even choosing to brush your teeth when it feels like a humongous task.

Barriers to self-care

As I mentioned above, sometimes, self-care just doesn’t feel attainable. But, actually, the times you feel you haven’t got the energy for self-care is when you need it most. It sometimes feels impossible to even get out of bed. What are the things that may provide barriers to self care? Examples include:

  • Lack of time – For some, self-care may not be a priority in their schedules. Time management may be an issue or too many responsibilities. Self-care doesn’t need to be huge. Even choosing to practice deep breaths on a 5-minute break can make a big difference.
  • Feeling guilty or non-deserving – People with low self-esteem may feel like they are non-deserving of making themselves a priority. This is a reminder that everyone deserves self-care time and self-care actually enables you to take better care of others. Invest in yourself where you can.
  • Worry of financial burden – Self-care is often wrongly seen as something expensive such as going on a fancy spa break or signing up to a gym. Self-care is best when it’s free or very low cost. Have a spa experience at home with a lovely bubble bath and candles and a hot drink such as peppermint tea. Having a lie-in is always free, as are cuddles with your loved ones and furry ones!
  • Poor surrounding self-care beliefs – Some people around you may not see the needs for self-care and may even try to belittle you for expressing a need to take time for yourself. Self-care isn’t selfish. Self care is necessary and showing yourself compassion, regardless of what others say, is super important. Just because someone else doesn’t choose to prioritise themselves, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.

One last reminder

Self-care isn’t always easy. However, it is vital. It is important. It is transformative in some cases. Listening to your body is so important and when you don’t, you learn, often the hard way! Remember that taking time for yourself is key. Taking time out is needed and you often need to disconnect in order to reconnect with yourself and the world around you.

Thank you for reading!