It’s OK To Say: Self-care should be our focus for the year ahead

Stacey Turner, founder of the It's OK To Say campaign.

Stacey Turner, founder of the It's OK To Say campaign. - Credit: Archant

Anyone struggling with New Year anxiety? Stacey Turner, founder of the It’s OK To Say mental health awareness campaign, has some advice on how to cope.

January seems like a messy time of year with so much sadness and change going on around the world. We've returned to our busy lives, getting back into the swing of things and being bombarded with the whole new year (new decade!), new you message!

I don't want anyone in my life to change, I just want them to be happy. So, friends and family, if you're reading this, please don't pay attention to the incessant barrage that can often place weights on top of everything else we are juggling rather than in our hands! The guilt and self-loathing this can bring about is unnecessary.

Picking up from last week where the emphasis was on getting to know yourself and being kind to yourself, I want to touch on self-care, looking after yourself and becoming self-aware to include setting boundaries.

You can't control how others view things or you, as they view it through their own eyes based on their own experiences and feelings (this is why paying attention to gossip is a total waste of time!), but you can control what happens with you and your response. Choose to be kind to yourself, choose self-care!

Self-care is the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one's own health, tf taking an active role in protecting one's own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.

Simply put, it is a choice to look after yourself, your space and to put yourself first by asking this one important question, "how do I want to feel?".

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When we attune into ourselves and allow freedom to feel, we bring flexibility into an otherwise organised world and having this flexibility allows you room to grow through how you're feeling, bringing about joy, rather than stress. I made myself a promise this year, that I was only going to do what makes me feel good.

If something doesn't feel OK, then I am not going to waste time on it. I am sensitive, not too sensitive, but I do feel things and am a bit of a sponge in that I pick up other people's energy. In choosing self-care, I take control keeping myself safe, shielding myself from negativity which enables me to feel more settled and deal with things on a day to day basis.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are currently taking an active role in protecting what they feel is best for their family and for their own happiness, I can't think of a beautiful and more important way to set an example of what self-care looks like. It all just becomes too much sometimes, so choose joy and yes, have the cake, but look after yourself so you can truly enjoy it!

Personal boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave towards them and how they will respond when someone passes those limits. They are built out of a mix of conclusions, beliefs, opinions, attitudes, past experiences and social learning.

This concept or life skill has been widely referenced in self-help books and used in the counselling profession since the mid-1980s.

By looking after ourselves, after a while, it becomes the norm.

So much so that the law of attraction applies, and our boundaries can naturally be seen and felt. I have seen things written such as, you can't change others, but you can change yourself. While this is true, I don't want you to change, I want to remind you to consider paying closer attention to yourself, practice self-care and put things in place to support your needs for how you want to feel.

Reaching out for help and practicing kindness is self-care, it automatically helps soothe anxiety because you are taking an active role in supporting you, as you become more self-aware.