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Make more time for self-care

Petra Velzeboer explains how to make self-care and wellbeing a habit in order to prevent stress

Self-care is not a one-size-fits-all. This might seem easy to understand on the surface; however, so many of us are following hacks, influencers and other social cues, forgetting to really check in with our body and experiment with what we need to boost our wellbeing.

When our self-care habits are aligned with our needs and the phase of life we're in, we are more likely to create consistent habits that create lasting change. The first habit to think about is one of reflection. This means creating the space and time to think about what your body and mind need to thrive, and preventing toxic stress while utilising healthy stress to help achieve your goals, whether they be work-related or personal.

Take time to reflect

We all need stress in our lives. Having some pressure allows us to reach our potential and be our best selves. So reflection is about mapping out what kind of stress you're facing, what phase of life you're in and experimenting with the many tools out there to see what works for you.

It's about learning to think for yourself in a world of distraction, remembering that self-care isn't just about bubble baths – it's also about radical honesty (with self and others). It's about having difficult conversations and taking brave steps to live life in a way that is aligned with your values rather than draining you of energy.

Make a choice

What do I mean by your phase of life? Well, when I had young kids and was studying and working, I didn't have space for long spa days, meditation, or gym time. Instead, I made a choice to invest in myself by investing in my education so I could role model a different way of life for my children. I had shorter habits to boost self-care, such as my three-minute meditation, writing down three things I was grateful for and trying to move my body during the day.

My self-care routines evolved over time. However, the one thing that has always been there in some form or other has been reflection. Whether journaling, walking and daydreaming or talking to trusted friends, I've tried to take a few minutes away from action mode to ask myself some key questions, such as:

Managing stress is not just about doing more of something. Sometimes it's about taking something away, such as a project, toxic people, a relationship or time spent scrolling mindlessly. And sometimes it's about shifting our perspective or mindset to remove overwhelm and break down a project in a way that is more manageable.

As Viktor Frankl says in his world-renowned book, Man's Search for Meaning: "Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom."

What will your response be to the world you're in and the stressors around you?

Petra Velzeboer is a psychotherapist, executive coach and author of Begin With You: Invest in your wellbeing & satisfaction at work.

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