Looking after our own wellbeing and making time for self-care is so important but something we often overlook. I know I’m guilty of this, especially since becoming a parent as there just aren’t enough hours in the day.
Disclaimer- I took advantage of a free trial of the Thrive Feel Stress Free app to inform a review which features in this article. All thoughts and opinions expressed are honest and my own.
I have Multiple Sclerosis so I understand better than most how important it is to prioritise your wellbeing. When I don’t take time out just for me or allow stress to get the better of me then I’m more likely to relapse and experience a worsening of my disability. That’s pretty scary stuff and a clear incentive to properly look after my own wellbeing right there! So you could definitely say I’ve developed a lot of skills in prioritising my wellbeing since my MS diagnosis over 18 months ago and I’m going to share my 5 best tips with you here;
Take time out to identify your needs
Carve out a little alone time for yourself to really focus on your wellbeing. Make yourself your favourite hot drink, sit down somewhere comfy, take out a notebook and pen and start thinking about what you most need to address in life. Here are a few questions you could answer to get you started;
What are your main worries, anxieties, problems, stresses and frustrations?
What could you be doing more of to look after your physical and mental health?
Do you have any bad habits which impact on your wellbeing?
What makes you happiest/what do you enjoy the most?
Which things do you value about yourself?
What do you beat yourself up about the most?
What do you find relaxing and how often do you switch off and relax?
A few of your answers will probably really stand out to you and it’s these areas I would focus on first as your most important wellbeing needs. Please don’t try to tackle everything at once, stick to a maximum of three areas for now, otherwise you will feel overwhelmed by it all which won’t help you one bit!
Find some awesome resources to help
Don’t try to go it alone! There are so many resources out there to make prioritising and focusing on your wellbeing easier than ever, so use them. Not everything will work for you but be open to trying new resources and different approaches until you feel you’re getting the help you need.
Friends and family
Sounds obvious that you can turn to the people you are close to for help and support but are your friends and family fully aware of your wellbeing needs? If you don’t open up and tell them about your issues and what you’re doing to try to improve them they won’t be able to fully support you.
Apps and online support
Thrive Feel Stress Free App
I’ve tried a few different wellbeing apps in recent months, such as Pacifica and Headspace and found them really useful. I hadn’t come across the Thrive Feel Stress Free app before though so I thought I’d give it a go and share how successful it was with helping to prioritise my wellbeing.
The app compared well to those I’d tried previously and I found myself looking forward to using it as it had a really fun and engaging design, including different islands of activities. There were also plenty of wellbeing options to explore, such as breathing, meditation, deep muscle relaxation and self hypnosis.
What I really liked about the app though was the mood meter where I could select the different issues I was facing and the extent of the impact on my wellbeing. The app used my mood meter to track my progress and recommended a personalised programme of activities to focus on based on my responses. It even provided more detailed and useful information for the issues I’d identified and suggested ways of dealing with stressful situations.
If I had one complaint though with the usability of Stress Free it’s that when it came to selecting the issues options they do bounce around on and off the screen a bit which can sometimes make them difficult to access. This was only a minor frustration though and I was happy with everything else.
Of the other features I thought the message in a bottle was a nice touch and I liked the zen garden where you could relax and create your own designs, although I was often my own worst enemy with this as I would become a bit of a perfectionist over the design!
Going into my trial of Stress Free I was excited to see how the app would help to prioritise my wellbeing but unsure of the impact it would have. I think it really helped me to focus on my wellbeing more effectively as it helped me to get into a good routine and identify what I needed to do the most. I also found some useful tools and techniques to help me address my individual needs.
I absolutely love Pinterest for finding loads of great articles on wellbeing and self-care that I can easily refer to. In fact the ‘Health- wellbeing’ board I created for Surviving Life’s Hurdles is by far my most followed board and it’s great to know the resources I’ve collected are helpful to so many people!
So useful for finding wellbeing advice and support. From motivating and enlightening TED talks to guided meditation, yoga sequences and everything in between there are plenty of useful resources to be found on YouTube.
More online support options
Charities, websites, blogs, courses, Facebook groups and forums can all offer really useful online resources so take the time to search for those most relevant to you. Not everything you find will be useful or meet your exact needs but you will find some amazing support at times too.
Plan for (and take) positive action
Once you’ve identified your wellbeing needs and found a few awesome resources to help you need to make sure you plan opportunities to look after your wellbeing and actually stick to these plans too! Start small and ensure your plans are manageable.
You will physically need to create space in your diary to help you stick to your intentions. So allocate time to your planned actions and make a note of when you’re going to do what you say you plan to and set yourself reminders too.
If you’d like some ideas on where to start with tackling your wellbeing needs I published an article recently which lists loads of ways you can improve your wellbeing through self-expression and creativity, why not give some a try?
Monitor your wellbeing daily
Monitoring your progress every day will really help you to stay on the right track and ensure you are taking the time to prioritise your wellbeing. A simple diary or record will suffice although bullet journalling can provide a more visual and creative approach to tracking your wellbeing and recording any self-care activities too.
My friend Hannah from Hannah Eliza Site has kindly given me permission to share some images of her bullet journal which, I’m sure you will agree, look beautiful and really helpful too. Credit for all bullet journal images presented within this article goes to Hannah!
I’ve never started a bullet journal myself as I worry I’d become too much of a perfectionist over the look of the journal instead of focusing on my wellbeing and a diary works well for me but I know plenty of people who find it a really useful and motivational tool for tracking their progress. Again, it’s just about finding what works best for you.
Adapt to your changing situation
Our lives are ever-changing which means our wellbeing needs are too. You can’t effectively prioritise your wellbeing if you’re not adapting to your changing situation. Don’t forget to regularly re-assess where you are in life and rethink what you need to do to look after your wellbeing.
An article I wrote recently on how to successfully carve out a new path in life will help you to re-focus your wellbeing needs during a big life change as this can be especially tough.
Do you have any awesome resources you use which help your own wellbeing? Are you good at prioritising your wellbeing needs or do you find it difficult to prioritise yourself as much as you should?