The Art of Self Care

How often do we really take care of ourselves? It can sometimes be easier to put other people’s needs, paying the bills and the demands of every day life ahead of our own needs, health and happiness. This is a question I have been contemplating for a little while as I currently have 9 loved ones who are very ill, old or have experienced a life changing health condition and it makes me question if any of these ailments can be truly prevented. Can we really prevent long term illness or is it determined by our genetic make up? Or is it a combination of both? Having seen and experienced many friends and family suffer with differing illnesses it has made me evaluate the important things in life and to question how well do I really look after myself not only as a professional dancer but just on a day to day basis. What do I value as important and what do I actually prioritise? What about you? 

We all have responsibilities but how often do we have to do jobs that we really don’t want to do and how many times have we talked ourselves out of the things we really do want to do? I believe many of us often think of self care as ‘selfish’ and instead we put other people’s needs, feelings and demands before our own. Self care is comparable to an oxygen mask on a plane – put your own mask on before helping others with theirs. The more you look after yourself, the more you can be of use to others. The more energy you have for yourself to accomplish, experience and create will ultimately impact and revitalise you, giving a fresh energy and inspiration to invigorate others. This makes sense, right?
So what is self care? It intends to improve your own mental and physical health, happiness and wellbeing. Self care will be different for different people. Some people may enjoy cooking, gardening, yoga or dance, travelling, having a bubble bath, meeting up with a great friend that makes you feel better, having a great cup of tea…. It’s something positive, that gives you a lift and makes you feel lighter. It is about feeling more connected to yourself when you have become detached, swamped in worries or over working. 
Self care applies to all of us, whether we are dancers or non professional dancers. For a dance lover, moving is a great form of self care; to stretch and lengthen the muscles and connect the mind and body. It enables the mind to completely focus on the one task or movement phrase, to be lost in the music – it is a wonderful way to escape. It reduces stress, which is a huge cause of longer term illnesses, obesity, diabetes, depression, back and joint pains. The benefits are endless and a wonderful form of looking after yourself and putting yourself first. Self care is about taking time out for yourself during the day, to feel nourished, calm, well, clearer and happier. It is something that you do everyday and not just as a short term fix until you feel better again. It is the compound of small repetitions that enrich your life and enable you to flourish physically, mentally and emotionally. 
Here are 30 Self Care tips:

  1. Go for a walk
  2. Have a bubble bath/ home spa
  3. Change two things in your diet for more nutritious items
  4. Add in an extra glass of water everyday
  5. Have a power nap to catch up on lost sleep
  6. Call a great friend who is going to give you a boost 
  7. Have a self date – take yourself out to a new place for an hour
  8. Try out a new skill
  9. Fix that one thing that you’ve been meaning to do at home
  10. Switch off phones and iPads for an hour to avoid incessant pings and notifications
  11. Go to a yoga or dance class
  12. Catch some sun for 15 mins
  13. Write down everything that you are grateful for in your life
  14. Go to a new town or city for the day for a change of scene
  15. Go for a massage
  16. Sit still for a moment
  17. Meditate even if it is just for 10 minutes
  18. Express your true feelings to someone
  19. Book a trip to a place you have always wanted to go to
  20. Splurge a little and treat yourself 
  21. Breathe deeply for a minute and make sure you are breathing fully and not just short breathing into your chest 
  22. Cut out negative people on your social media lists 
  23. Stroke a pet!
  24. Cook a delicious, nutritious recipe 
  25. Be around the people you love most 
  26. Stretch out
  27. Change jobs!
  28. Book yourself on a course
  29. Be playful!
  30. Be creative

Looking after yourself is similar to having a finely tuned car; if you neglect it, your whole body will need to be retuned. By properly planning your self care activities, it will help you to feel more connected, more relaxed and focused and help you think more clearly, make rational decisions and keep on top of your health. It is the most important thing you can do for yourself. What is the first thing you are going to try out?
Try out my personal training programme, RAISE THE BARRE

Try out my ballet barre videos: YouTube:

Twitter: @hannilydance

Instagram: Hannily_Bendell_Dance 


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