Self-care tips by Gerry Murray

 

 

Self-care tips

by Gerry Murray, See Change Ambassador

One of the hardest tasks I had to do was look after myself. I was great a minding other people while at the same time neglecting myself. Life has a method of showing me what happens when I put others first – I burn myself out. I end up sick (mentally). I end up with no support or no help. Well after a lot of reflecting, I decided to do the right thing and no matter what, I come first. 

My time had come to make the changes; I needed to keep myself well by putting me first. I learned self-care from past experiences. I am not responsible for anyone but myself. So what is self-care for me? What do I do? Where do I start?  

Google is a great start; finding ways to take care of myself was not so easy until I realised through past experiences of neglect to turn the coin over. My life is like a coin; on one side I have neglect, lack of caring, no interest, putting other people first. On the other side, I have self-care. This is the side I keep getting but sometime it lands on the other side, and it’s important to note that this is ok. Through my experiences, I have learned how to “flip the coin” back to myself. I love the self-care side and I’m excited just thinking about it as I write. 

Practice self-care, yes please! A good night’s sleep is how I start. I set my alarm for 8am whether I plan to go out or not, otherwise I will stay in bed and the coin is in the air. I then put my feet on the floor, take a shower, say my prayers and meditate. I then make my bed and open the curtains to let the morning in and be grateful I am alive. My morning continues by letting the dog out, having a cup of tea and breakfast. This is my daily routine.  

My routine is like joining a gym or physiotherapy for my head, to keep myself right. If something doesn’t suit I change it. After breakfast, I decide what my plans are for the day, i.e. housework, preparing dinner, venturing out, etc. It is my time, therefore, it is my choice. 

Over the years I developed what I call my wellness tools. On individual pieces of paper, I write the things that help me and store these in my wellness toolbox – you can use a jewellery box, a sweet jar or a shoebox. Tailor your wellness to suit yourself. These are your tools to keep your mind strong and a way to keep us on the right side of that coin. 

Wellness tools that I used (during lockdown) and still use today are things like crosswords, art, sketch pads, my journal, etc. Apart from your phone, what things would you put in your wellness box?  

I love to get out and about. I like to walk, especially in the park. I love sea swimming and not only during the Summer weather. I often jump onto a bus into town and visit the sights or just ramble around. I also take the train to various destinations, I thoroughly enjoy visiting different counties (I make sure to be responsible and to tell someone). 

I make it priority to treat myself once per week to a breakfast, lunch or dinner and a big pot of tea. My wellness keeps building as I find new ways to keep myself well. As I grew stronger, I decided to volunteer in a number of organisations. It’s not all about me, I need to give back to try help others who walk the same path and in the same shoes. I am aware I have made mistakes by over-doing it, but it is a learning curve. My head will let me know when to take a step back. 

One of my best wellness tools like any good gym instructor or physiotherapist are my support systems; these are the people I hand-picked and asked to help me on my journey of self-care. Sometimes I want to not do anything and that’s ok but I talk to my number one supporter, my wife. I also have my pharmacist, my G.P., community nurse or psychiatrist to name a few. I have community based groups like the Menshed and Sistershed.  

Self-care is getting the best people around me because I care what happens to me. When I put my hand out they grab it and help me back on track. I am meeting them halfway. I put in the work, I am growing and changing for the better. 

I strive to put myself first. I stop isolating and try ask for help as early as I can. How early is early? When I notice my daily routine starting to go. I feel when my self-care coin has flipped over that it is time for action – direct action, no choices action. 

For those starting out, take small steps, it is not a race it a marathon, easy does it.  Even small steps mean you’re moving forward. Start your morning routine. Make a wellness toolbox and put the things you like or enjoy doing into it. Write them on slips on paper keep adding. Keep adding if you are already doing things to keep well. Don’t take them for granted write them down put them in your wellness toolbox. 

I write them down and I include my supporters in my wellness because when I struggle I can’t remember what wellness my tools are. I dip into my toolbox and get started again. Be kind and gentle with yourself. You will get there. Focus on yourself and don’t go back to your old ways. Reflect on where you are and what put you there. Remember that you can change so it won’t be as bad the next time. It is never too late to start; all you need to do is care about yourself first. 

Today, I own my mental health and I have no shame speaking about it. You never know who you may be helping. My mental health is under my care through self-care, awareness and the journey
I took to find me the person. My mental health does not define me, does not hold me back does not overshadow me unless I give myself to it. It’s always going to be there but I have armed myself through self-care. My wellness tool are my weapons. My supporters are my army, all handpicked and tailored to suit and help me when I struggle just as I do for others. I am not afraid to be mentally unwell because when I put my hand out there are people there to grab it and guide me.  

Get your mental health under control by putting yourself first and the rest will correct itself. Be kind, be gentle, be true to yourself, enjoy the journey. 


If you are having a tough time at the moment and need to reach out for support, please contact any of the following

Shine: phil@shine.ie

Samaritans: 116123

Pieta House: 1800 247 247

YourMentalHealth.ie: 1800 742 44

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