Many survivors struggle to cope with the burden of the past. They can also be anxious about the future. This can make the present overwhelming. Finding ways to care for yourself can help you live in the present, enjoy the moment and be healthier. When you’re not used to nurturing yourself it can help to make a point of making time for the basics. Make them a priority. Make them a routine. You’re important. Show your body that you’re important too.
Even the basics can be easy to ignore when we are triggered or struggling day to day with the impacts of our childhood experiences.
Are you hungry? Remember to eat. Try to choose healthy food which nurtures you and gives you the nutrition you need to rebuild. Food gives us energy. This means that when we’re not eating well, we don’t have the fuel we need to face life’s challenges. Try and establish a routine to eating. If you do that you’ll be less tempted to eat emotionally. We all enjoy some treats, after all.
Are you thirsty? Check in with yourself. It’s quite easy for survivors to ignore these basic needs? Water is one of nature’s gifts. Many of us forget to drink enough water every day, to keep us healthy. Our bodies need it. Try and establish a routine – it can help to keep a water bottle with you. While other drinks are tempting, too many sugary drinks and alcohol are not helpful. It’s also a good idea to not drink too much coffee and tea, unless it’s herbal tea (the type without caffeine), much of which brings other benefits.
Are you getting enough sleep? Is it restorative? Many survivors have trouble sleeping. Falling asleep. Staying asleep. All of us need a certain amount of sleep. It helps keep us mentally and physically healthy. A routine is helpful. Trying to go to bed at the same time every night. Trying to relax before bed. Having your electronic devices – phone, laptop, ipad out of the bedroom.
Remember to move. This doesn’t mean a gym membership or personal trainer. Something small – maybe 10 mins every day. And if you don’t manage that whatever you do helps to keep your body moving. Try simple stretching. A short walk in the fresh air. Even dancing to the beat of your favourite music if that’s what you want to do. It all helps
Go outside into the fresh air. Into nature. See the sun. Feel the warmth on your face. Enjoy some time in nature, in the calm of a field or bush, where you feel safe and nurtured.
Take a shower or a bath. The gentle cleansing of water flowing across your body can be both comforting and restorative. Washing ourselves means we are taking care of our body. Not only it is basic hygiene but it can be fun and soothing too
And remember to breathe…. You can read more about breathing in our section about grounding
Think about things you enjoy. The following list might help.
· Think about what helps ground you in your body so you enjoy the present moment e.g. a long hot bubble bath, classical music, lighting candles, jogging or watching old movies.
· Make sure that your bedroom and bed are comfortable. When you want some time out, you will have a place that honours your worth, makes you feel safe, and comfortable.
· Do things just for the joy they bring. Read a book, just for you. Play with pets. Listen to your favourite music. Explore your garden.
· Do something physical or learn a new skill. Learn to dance, or join a bushwalking or jogging club. Exercise burns off excess emotion, and helps us be more comfortable in our bodies.
· Undertake "mindfulness" classes to help you live in and enjoy the present.