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Self-Care: Luxury or Lifestyle?

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Recently I have noticed the tightness in my stomach, the rounding of my shoulders and the tension headaches. All trigger points that something is bugging me, you know when it just goes round and round in your head and you can't switch off. No matter how much you tell yourself to just forget about it, it keeps popping back in and reminding you about it. Sound familiar?

That's been me for a little while, frustrated by the lack of accountability that someone made to me and the lack of contact with a close friend, not for the want of trying I should add. I couldn't work out why it was bothering me so much, after all -- if they were clearly not worrying about it -- why should I? Why am I spending time going over and over it in my head? And then it struck me... It was because it's stepping on my values -- the values I hold close to my heart, which make and shape the person who I am today and what you stand for. Honesty, trust, love and friendship. These are some of my core values and they weren't being upheld. I felt angry. When the lightbulb moment struck, I suddenly felt free. It was like I gave myself permission to understand what had been eating at me and causing me to feel distracted, and that it was ok to feel like this temporarily.

Today as I sit here inspired to write by the landscape I am surrounded by my recent worries and frustrations seem to melt away into the distance. I feel my heart strings pull as I gaze longingly at the crisp blue sky and white fluffy clouds. There is the welcome return of the sun which radiates down warming my skin and the gentle breeze which tussles with my long curly hair. In front of me it's like a picture postcard, an amazing landscape of Lake District Fells -- Skiddaw, Blencathra and Hellvellyn to name a few. These hold a special place in my heart and remind me of the sheer determination, courage and strength that it took to walk them. They seem quite monstrous sat here, standing tall and dominating their surroundings, there is an air of mystery about them and the stories they could tell.

You see for me, this is my place of escapism, it's where I come to switch off, spend time with the people who matter to me and recharge my batteries. It's also the place which reminds me about the importance of finding time for myself.

Recognizing my current situation and by allowing myself to take some time out I could now calmly consider an alternative perspective. I appreciate that we are all individuals, with our own lives to lead. Stuff gets in the way, priorities change. Also in reality was I overreacting to a situation which could easily be resolved by me picking up the phone and checking my friend is okay? When I neglect self-care, I have a tendency to overthink situations and make mountains out of mole hills (excuse the pun). Walking and fell climbing help me relax and so it is ironic that I am sitting here today looking directly opposite them reminding myself that self-care isn't a luxury it should be part of our everyday lifestyle.

There are simple techniques we can all engage in daily and weekly to check whether we are upholding these.

1) Check in with yourself each day by allowing 10-15 minutes to "just be." Notice what happens when you allow yourself to connect with your breathing, stop working and just focus on you.

2) Ask yourself, "What have I achieved today?" Every day is the chance for a new beginning and to appreciate what has gone well. Journal three positive things before you go to bed each night and notice what happens to your sleep pattern and mind frame the following day.

3) Write down your core values and check in once a week to ensure you're upholding them.

So I end this piece with three of questions for you:
1) When did you last check in with your values?
2) What's your self-care regime?
3) Are the two linked?

Go on, take some time out today. It's important right?

Do you have a story to share? I'd love to know how you deal with values that are stepped on and how you ensure self-care doesn't just become a luxury but part of your lifestyle.