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‘How I Mastered Self-Care’ – Tips to live by from a Social Worker & Dad of Four

June 15, 2022

As a social worker of 20 years and Case Manager at Bravehearts for 6 years, I have learnt that self-care is the most important thing for keeping my physical and mental health in check.

Human Services industry workers have a tendency to put others first – I know I do! Going through some tough times personally has taught me that I need to prioritise ME, because if I don’t, I can’t be there for others to the best of my ability.

I learnt this lesson about three years ago when I very nearly burnt out –  I was 205kg and a newly full-time solo dad with three teenagers and a 4 year-old. I came to a place where I had to prioritise myself in order to be there for my kids, my team at work and the amazing people I support through Case Management.

How did I do that? Well… setting routines and non-negotiables in my life. 

Anyone who knows me knows that I have moments throughout my day dedicated to grounding and mindfulness and that I have daily set routines in each day and week that are non-negotiable.

I go to the gym/workout every single morning, rain hail or shine. Yes even through COVID lockdown. I do something every week that’s solely about ME. Something fun, interesting or even something for learning.

I’m a huge nerd, I love comics and reading scientific journals as an escape. Museums, art galleries, musicals (YES ALL THE MUSICALS), superhero movies, bush walks, random drives through the mountains, and even going out with a mate for a beer after work on a Friday. Something, Anything… It’s about doing one thing just for me (yeah, I might let the family tag along too if they behave).

Ok, so that seems like a lot. So I’ll break it down a bit differently for you. So I’ll give you Steve’s Guide to Mastering a Selfcare Day. Let’s call it self-care Sundays, but you can make it any day or even just part of a day. You get the drift.

HOW TO MASTER SELF-CARE DAYS

I call BS on being a ‘people pleaser’ all the time. There’s nothing wrong with putting yourself first and saying no from time to time. In the battle of busyness, it’s easy to forget about the most important person in your life – you!

That’s why I’ve officially made self-care Sundays, every Sunday, a thing! My version of self-care Sundays is designed to take back control of your day, before the demands of the work week kick in. Here’s how to do it:

1. Don’t be late for your important date

Block out next Sunday’s ‘you’ time in the calendar right now! We’ll wait. Ok, done? Make the commitment to yourself and treat ‘your’ appointment with the same importance as any other.

2. Learn to say no

If you’re always up for anything, the idea of taking time to be selfish can be a scary one. It’s ok to say no from time to time – there will always be another breakfast date or Sunday sesh to join. After all, if you’re not your best self, how can you give your best to anyone else?

3. Turn it off – and keep it off

If you’re reading this on your mobile, by all means, finish the article… and then turn it off! Ween yourself off the screen with a digital detox, even if it’s for a few hours if you can’t manage an entire day. You’ll be surprised at just how clearer your mind will be when you’re not mindlessly scrolling through your social media feed every other minute.

4. Get outdoors

If you’ve been cooped up in an office all week and haven’t seen the sunlight, now’s your time to shine! Find a local bush walk or bicycle route and hit the trail. You could even pull out a picnic rug and get your hit of vitamin D in the backyard (and always remember to slip, slop, slap!)

5. Treat yo’self

What do you do that makes you feel at peace, fulfilled, de-stressed, and re-energised? You don’t have to drink tea leaves imported from the depths of Timbuktu or get a 24-carat gold facial, but by all means, today’s the day to spoil yourself.

Book in for a massage!

Find a cosy nook and flick through that magazine or book you’ve been dying to read!

Hit the road and drive to nowhere – with a cheesy playlist, of course!

Dance like nobody, or everybody, is watching!

Even if it’s just one tiny thing, make it a priority to do you!

 

Finally, I want to encourage you – especially you men out there, because we’re notoriously bad at this – to have a mate you check in with regularly – no BS check-in.

The kind of check-in where you have one of those real straight talk, brother to brother/sister to sister/friend to friend chats – no judgement. My team at work have regular check in with each other, where we are raw and pull no punches. It has been a real turning point for me in my career and personal life. It taught me I need that in other areas in life not just work.

So take some time this week for you. Self-care the hell out of a day, set some routines and non-negotiables, check-in with a mate or two. Do something just for you.


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