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When we are stressed out and busy looking after others, we often fail to take time for self-care. But this is a mistake.

“Self-love, self-respect, self-worth: There’s a reason they all start with ‘self.’ You can’t find them in anyone else.” ~ unknown

If we fail to look after ourselves, we can become burnt out, impatient, unproductive and ill. We are then less able to help others and achieve all we want to in life. Self-care is not something we can do without. We must make it a priority. Instead of putting yourself last all the time, try looking after yourself as you would a child in your care or a good friend.

Follow these tips to keep you balanced, healthy and happy:

Nourish yourself

You wouldn’t expect a high-performance car to run on inferior fuel and never to get a service. Shouldn’t you take at least as much care of your self? Feed yourself well and generally look after your health and well being. You only get one body and you rely on your mind, so look after them.

Watch your self-talk

We would never be negative or critical when a good friend came to us for support and advice. Yet the things we say to ourselves are often harsh and unfair. Quit the negative self-talk. You deserve better.

Limit exposure to negativity

There is a lot of bad news in the world. And there are a lot of people who dwell on all that is negative. We can easily begin to feel that the world is a terrible place. But listening to the news doesn’t give us a balanced idea of the true nature of life. There are wonderful things in this world. Seek out the good news and limit your exposure to unnecessary drama.

Make time to relax and pamper yourself

Life without any pleasure and happiness becomes a bleak way to exist. We deserve to relax and have fun some of the time. Take time to do the things you enjoy, to relax and to pamper yourself.

Laugh everyday

Laughter really is good medicine. It can lift your spirits, improve your health and help you get some perspective on life. We can’t always force ourselves to laugh, but we can try to lighten up a little. If all else fails, settle down to binge watch some comedy on TV once in a while.

 

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Closing thoughts

We sometimes think we don’t have time to take good care of ourselves. But study after study has shown that looking after ourselves improves our health, wellbeing, relationships and the quality of our work. Also, studies show that if we work for too long our health suffers, as do our relationships. Also when we work long hours our productivity actually goes down
So looking after ourselves can actually make us happier, nicer and more productive–isn’t it worth making that a priority?

The truth is this: sometimes we don’t feel like ourselves. There is little-to-ono certainty, consistency and a jumble of mess get in the way.

Maybe it’s a new job, a big move, a fallout with someone close.

Whether it’s the end of an era or the start of something new, we can’t keep letting our lives get more and more messy. Not only does it disrupt routine, but we lose our every-day anchor.

If you’ve ever moved homes, you’ll know the ‘mess’ I mean.

Maybe you need to get up earlier to get to work; or maybe moving comes with a new job entirely! Perhaps the mode of travel is different, or the amount of free time you have.

We always make those plans to get back on track and create a new routine, but before you know it it’s been months of taking-it-as-it-comes (and the added stress that comes alongside that!).

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Below are five little things I do when life gets messy. Sometimes they don’t all happen, but I try my best to at least do half each day. Do you do any of these?

 

1.Make my bed

Every. Single. Morning.

And change my sheets regularly! An easy way to start each day the same.

 2. Exercise for at least 30 minutes.

Whether that be a walk to work or a high-intensity boot camp I try to make it happen daily. It’s amazing what a little sweat can do for my mindset. The earlier the better!

 3. Eat breakfast.

No, not another carb-loaded snack I grab on the way into my first meeting. Something nutritious but still easy. Musli, yogurt, fruit… something to jump start me for the day

4.Touch base with my partner.

Ask about his day and find out what made him laugh. Staying connected, no mater how frazzled, is so important.

5. Take a break

Even if it’s just one morning a week, I make sure to fit in some ‘me time’ to unwind and rejuvenate. There’s no point in running myself into the ground.

Thousands of people flood Paris each year to get a taste of the city of love. It’s hard to blame them; what with the beauty, history and more pastries than you could imagine.

Yet for all it’s popularity there are many a stone left unturned in the French capital that wait patiently for your wandering feet to stumble upon. While the traditional destinations remain enchanting, for those who enjoy a little more intricacy, history and mystery in their travel, why not use this as a starting point to a unique Parisian experience that feeds your curious mind.

For the historical traveller, why not take a day trip. No- not to Versailles; I invite you to spend the day in Provins. In a day you will barely scape the surface of this medieval town but it’s well worth taking the time to explore.

As G.K. Chesterton says: “the traveller sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.”

Like always. I recommend just starting to walk. When you get there, walk where your feet take you, stop where your eyes are drawn and experience the town and what it has to offer.

Alternatively, mix mystique with good food by visiting what is arguably the oldest stone home in Paris. What once was the home of alchemist Nicholas Flamel is now a rustic restaurant with raving reviews. Decorated with an array of unusual symbols and virtually pulsing with legend this is a fine substitute for dining on the busy Champs Elysees.

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Enjoy a film in one of Paris’s historic cinemas. Why not swing by the Latin Quarter and find an independent screening to your taste at the Le Reflect Medicis? Beside the famed Champo on Rue Champollion, this venue is broken up into three theatres with separate programing. You’re sure to find something that sparks your interest.

While these may be a starting point, don’t forget that you are there to experience, not just to visit. Pay attention, do one thing at a time; look ahead, up and around you, but don’t look down. Make time to reflect and let spontaneousness guide your experiences. With that you truly will find yourself turning over stones you never thought existed.

 As an avid reader and an activist, I have read my fair share of feminist literature.

Let me tell you that the editors of I Call Myself A Feminist have hit the nail on the head. While evidently catering to a younger audience, I maintain that this collection of essays have something for everyone.

Utilising a range of sources, not simply a collection of white, middle income women, the book truly articulates that feminism is for everyone, and that each and every woman has something to learn from each other.

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Hearing from young women as young as young as seventeen, discussing attempts to counter both racial and gendered discrimination. Or the great-great-granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurt’s stories of her family continuing to fight for equal rights. This call to action cries out to women everywhere, of all ages and demographics, challenging the under-representation in all walks of life outside motherhood.

As a driven, work-orientated women who was fortunate enough to be born into a society and upbringing that makes meeting these career goals somewhat less taboo, makes living a comfortable, somewhat privileged life a possibility, I am acutely aware of a number of things:

 

First, my privilege and what that means. It means that I am in a position where people will listen to me. It means I am in a space where I am able to call out inconsistencies and prejudice without fear (or at least less fear).

Second, my gender and what that means. It means that I have to work twice as hard to get to where I want than that of my bother, my father, my co-worker. And event then I may not get there.

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Which leads me to imagine what it must be like coming from a different upbringing. I Call Myself A Feminist draws upon what it is like to live in this world today as a Muslim, woman of colour, queer woman and many, many more. It raises questions and brings to light the responsibility we all have as women to challenge the norms and traditional expectations held within much of society.

In it’s early stages, the collection notes that “We need feminism because women’s bodies remain politicised, scrutinised, fetishized.” If there is only one thing that connects every woman in this world, it is that simple fact. If there is anything that calls you to at least contemplate your contribution to the cause, I hope it is that.

Thought-provoking, simply said, and inspiring, this is a book you can read in a weekend. I your search to open your mind and your heart I highly recommend you take out of your busy life to read this page-turner.

Co-developed by psychologists and health professionals, the Smiling Mind app has got this wellbeing-through mindfulness thing down pat. Understanding that it’s hard to take the time out of a busy life, the short bursts of zen for any occasion are made accessible to everyone, anywhere, anytime.

Building on mindfulness meditation, the app offers the chance to improve mental health and wellbeing. Using a few minutes at a time, each session guides you to use your senses to stay in the moment, improve listening, eating habits and healthy thoughts and emotions.

In a fast-paced lifestyle, it’s hard to step back and realise how important these things are. I sure as hell know it’s easy to forget how important what you put into your body is! Even when you do know, it’s easy to make excuses about time, energy and so on.

 

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Starting at just three minutes and designed to be possible to do on-the-go, Smiling Mind offers no room for excuses. Perhaps you could start with the night-time meditations as a way to introduce the methods into your daily routine. Use them to unwind and remove yourself from the stress of the day, get a full and uninterrupted sleep and be ready for the next big day.

Alternatively, take some more scheduled-in ‘me time’ by utilising the Journaling Exercise, Practicing Gratitude or Extended Meditation. My upmost recommendation would be the ‘I Wish For Me’ exercise; a wonderful way of making friendly wishes for yourself, centring your mind and filling your cup with smiles. After all, you can’t pour from an empty cup.

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So take the time, download the free app and start the road to a happier, healthier and more emotionally aware you without compromising the life you love to live.

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