I've been a bit quiet on the blog front of late. To be honest, I am struggling to find the time to actually sit down and write - which is frustrating as it's one of my favourite things to do. The best time of day for me to write is in the quiet of the evening once the girls are asleep. But after the long day full of school and kinder runs, cooking, bookwork, housework, cooking, errands, washing, more cooking and somewhere in there some one on one time with kids and an actual adult conversation with my husband, I'm finding I'm just hitting the couch for half an hour before finally falling into bed, pretty exhausted!

They say though, if something is a priority, you'll make time for it. This is very true for me when it comes to sourcing quality ingredients and preparing most of our food from scratch, so I figured if I can make time for that each and every day, tonight I can find an hour or two to myself to write.

Now that I am sitting here doing it, I am reminded of how good it feels to let the words flow out of me and how therapeutic that is. It is so important to take time out to do the things we love! In fact, as I'm writing I've just established in my mind what this piece is now about - the importance of self care.

To quote the beautiful Kim Morrison of Like Chocolate for Women and Tewnty8 -

"Self care isn't selfish, it's essential!"

When I first heard those words, it took me a moment to process them. Then it dawned on me that, indeed, I had always considered self care as kind of indulgent! As something that we shouldn't get too carried away with or invest too much time or money in. But why not? If we don't take care of ourselves, who will? Why would anyone else put us first if we don't ourselves? If we aren't feeling fulfilled, happy and cared for, how are we then supposed to be the best version of ourselves? If we want to give the best to those we love, work with or care for, we need to make sure we've given our best to us first.

In this day and age, with the fast pace we all seem to live at, it's easy to forget to care for ourselves. Between, working long hours, looking after the kids, being their for our partners, parents and other family members, keeping on top of our household duties, running the errands, doing the groceries etc., there's precious little time left to think about us. The irony is though, as I touched on in a previous post, if we do take some time for self care, these menial day-to-day tasks won't seem so hard, we'll feel happier and healthier and life will be that little bit rosier.

So what exactly is self care you ask? I have learnt that there are five basic elements of self care that apply to everyone on the planet - nutrition, movement, connection, sleep and fun! Each as important as the next and each easy to fulfil if we make them a priority.

Nutrition - we all know the importance of nourishing our bodies with good wholesome food. We really are what we eat. We don't fuel our cars with inferior fuel and wonder why they don't function properly, so why would we do it to ourselves? Ensure plenty of fresh wholefoods are on the menu every day. Limit processed foods, sugar, carbs and alcohol. Drink lots of water and make good food a priority. You're worth it.

Movement - too much emphasis is put on exercise sometimes, in my opinion. We can be lead to believe that we need to be pounding the pavement or hitting the gym for an hour every day at 6am if we are serious about moving our bodies. It doesn't have to be this hard, expensive or early! If everyday we can get some kind of good functional movement in, that is enough to keep us healthy. As a mother of 3 young kids, and someone who has never been so inclined to run or workout, I get my movement in in many different ways: walking my eldest to the bus stop, running around with the kids in the backyard, yoga classes, taking the stairs, gardening, playing and umpiring netball, parking in one place and walking everywhere when I'm out shopping, basic stretching, bike riding with the kids, walking with a friend, housework etc. etc. Granted, I'm not going to break any running world records but I can certainly do everything I need to do without ever feeling fatigued or puffed out. On a further note, since cleaning up my diet and my weight consequently finding it's happy place, it has been so nice to be released from that nagging feeling of needing to work my bum into the ground in order to maintain my weight. It really is 90% what goes in your mouth, not how many hours you rack up in an aerobic class each week.

Connection - Build and nurture good relationships. Put time into them. Whether its your relationship with your kids, spouse, parents, siblings, friends or even co-workers, if you value a person, make your relationship with them fulfilling. Personally, I am at my happiest when I am feeling connected to those I love and respect. I remember commenting recently to my sister after spending a few hours with her and my beautiful niece, my mum, aunty, cousin and grandfather, how happy I felt afterwards. We all live in the same country town but it's rare for us all to be in the same room at once. I decided that day that I would make seeing them regularly, more of a priority from then on.

Sleep - I know some people seem to do fine on very little, but if I want to be and feel my best, 7-8 hours per night is absolutely essential. Going to bed a bit earlier can have such a dramatic positive effect if you are prone to feeling worn out. In both the short and long term. Just google 'more sleep benefits' and you will find a plethora of articles all attesting to the amazingness of plenty of sleep.  Until recently I was someone who, since my teens hadn't slept overly well. However, after making a few changes such as eating better and cleaner, no caffeine after 5, dimming or switching off all the lights an hour before going to bed and getting to bed earlier, I am sleeping a lot more soundly. And feeling better for it!

Fun - This is the best bit - go and have fun! Do what lights you up, what relaxes you, what inspires you; Do. What. Makes. You. Feel. Good!

Whether its tending a garden, listening to heavy metal, playing football, reading trashy magazines, mountain climbing, having your nails done, watching Disney movies, collecting stamps, writing a blog, running 10k's, getting a massage, regularly catching up with friends or simply sitting quietly in the sunshine, if it feels good and warms your heart - do it!  And do it regularly and deliberately. We all lead busy and demanding lives so we must invest in ourselves in order to keep up. Parents often give their kids quiet time when they're grumpy or tired; we see the need for our children to have time to themselves to do what calms and relaxes them, so it makes sense that we should allow ourselves the same privilege.

So there you have it: permission to look after yourself. If there's an area of self care you feel you are lacking in, try making it a priority for a week and see how you feel. I recently had the privilege of hearing The Vitality Coach, Nikki Fogden Moore speak at an event and she imparted a great little pearl of wisdom - commit 1% of your day to yourself. 1% of any given day is only 14.4 minutes! She explained that no matter what area of your life needs attention, you are worthy of your own time and everyone can find less than 15 minutes each day to give to themselves if they want to. Go on - try it! I'm definitely going to this week!