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The challenge and reward of practicing self-care

Updated: May 28, 2023

This month’s challenge was to write a blog about my self-care plan.

The World Health Organization defines self-care as: “the ability of individuals, families, and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider.”

My self-care plan that helps to maintain my health includes crisis-care ingredients, flexible-sometimes ingredients and let’s-do-nothing ingredients. The essential ingredients for me are exercise, gratitude and taking time to be present.

Exercise in nature

I find if I don’t keep up my walking, I start to feel heavy, and my thoughts become harder to keep positive.

I have had times in my life where I have felt very depressed. I remember one particularly down day.

I was a newly-single Mum after DV. I had small children, I had moved to a new area, and I didn’t know anyone yet. My body felt heavy and tense and my thoughts were spiralling me into depression.

I collected up my children and the dog and we went for a walk to the beach.

I’m not sure what happened but it was like something lifted off me. I felt lighter and somehow more capable to face life.

This is when I realised how important walking in nature is for me. Gentle exercise in nature is an essential ingredient – it regulates me!!!

Taking the time to be present and grateful

In the busyness of life, I felt like I suddenly lost 10 years. I had my head down completing the tasks of living and I wasn’t present to anything of true value.

So now I take the time to feel into my experience.

I use my senses and I consciously take a moment to see where I am and who I am with. It’s like taking a sensory photo in my mind.

A few days ago, I took time to be present when I sat in my paddock with my horses and replied to emails and text messages.

When I finished, I noticed my beautiful old horse walking towards me. He had a look of surprise on his face that I was still there. He came over and stood with me and then fell asleep. The rest of the herd were off in another area. He wanted to be with me, and he didn’t ask anything of me!!! He simply wanted to be in my presence – such a gift of unconditional love.

This sparked gratitude, which is another essential ingredient of my self-care.

My biggest challenge in self-care

My biggest challenge is to give myself time to do nothing.

I found I was filling all my spare time with self-care activities, and I was becoming overwhelmed.

It became another to-do list.

I wasn’t enjoying anything; I was just trying to tick off my list.

Now, I feel like I am in training – practising giving myself white space.

This has been such a challenge !!! and a rewarding one.

So, I find I can generally maintain health and wellbeing, if I keep up my essentials, add fun, flexible activities without pressure, practise allowing white space, and call on the big guns when I get wobbly.


Blogging GEMS program

This Blog is a part of the Blogging GEMS program, which supports domestic violence survivors to practise the self-care strategies of Gratitude, Exercise, Mindfulness, Support, and Service (GEMS). As they practise the strategies, they blog about can read their survivor GEMS Blogs:

Gratitude Blogs:

Exercise Blogs

Mindfulness Meditation Blogs:

Service Blogs

Support Blogs

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