Self care is a topic that has been in the media for a while. Some see it as indulgent, but it can be an essential for many – particularly those with health conditions to manage.
While the phrase may bring to mind expensive candles and wafty white rooms, in reality, it just means looking after yourself to help make your own life easier.
Research has repeatedly shown that spending time outdoors can help you relax. Even noting just three things in nature each day can be beneficial.
Look out the window at the clouds; pay attention to the wildflowers on your way to work (even in urban areas, there’s a lot growing through the cracks in the pavement); watch the birds – or better yet, carry bird seed so you can feed them.
Let nature soothe your stresses by taking a 15 minute wander each day (longer if you can manage it). Turn your phone off so you can truly connect with nature without any disturbance.
I’m a big fan of ‘invisible exercise’, where you have so much fun that you don’t notice you’re getting fit.
Gardening can help build muscle (particularly if you do a lot of digging); foraging is great for improving balance and getting you stretching; and nature walks offer so many distractions, it can be easy to walk further than you intended.
I find litter picking satisfying, and try to spread #LoveNotLitter – crafting the word love from nature finds after litter-picking an area. It’s a great way to get fit and help wildlife at the same time – all the bending down can be a real work out.
If you have mobility issues, you may need to pace yourself, starting with a five minute walk and building up by ten seconds each week – or in whatever intervals feel right for you.
Even a little exercise can help a lot – though it’s important not too push yourself too hard if you have a chronic condition too. Let your body and instinct guide what you do.
There are so many easy ways to be mindful with nature. Watch a bee or fly. Look at the ripples on the water. Watch the clouds or see dusk turn to sunset. It’s easy to be present – and experience awe – when you pay attention to nature.
I’m a big fan of seasonal eating. I figure that nature has been around a lot longer than I have and probably knows the right type of food to provide at the right time of year (for example, blackberries and elderberries are both loaded with vitamins that can help boost the immune system as the nights get colder).
It’s also a more eco-friendly choice – and tasty. At this time of year, a jacket potato with melting butter and corn-on-the-cob, cooked in its soaked husks over the embers of the fire, teamed with warming home-made baked beans and fresh slaw, followed by blackberry and apple crumble, served with mulled elderberry juice is the perfect way to warm a cool night.
As the weather gets colder, the intense burst of rosehip syrup or comfort of home-made jam on freshly-baked bread add comfort to the darkening days. Dark fruit compotes, spicy home made chutneys and fruit leather all offer low-fat comfort food too.
Best of all, foraging offers free food – as do community allotments, if you don’t have garden space of your own. You can look after your health and your finances by connecting with the food that grows near you.