Nikki’s Natter: How well do Kiwi’s do self-care?

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Nikki Frittmann is a notetaker and reader/writer for students with disabilities at AUT University.  She has Spina Bifida and lives in Auckland with her husband and two cats.  Every second month she shares her musings with DPSN.

As a teenager, I always looked forward to telethons – a once-a-year event on television, to raise money for charity, which was sort of an all-night party. In those days, television only showed from early morning until midnight, so the thought of being able to stay up all night and watch TV was very exciting!  Of course, I always fell asleep on the couch in the early morning, waking up the next morning disappointed that I had missed something.

I always remember being impressed that although telethons were held in many countries at different times, the ones in New Zealand always raised more money for every person in the country than anywhere else in the world.

I’ve always thought that New Zealanders are generous people.  As I’m writing this, the South Island has just been shaken by a large earthquake.  Within 24 hours, New Zealanders had raised thousands of dollars for those who were the most badly affected.

moneygiveBut for Kiwis, when it comes to looking after ourselves, it seems to be a completely different story!

We have this awful “she’ll be right” attitude that seems to say that taking care of ourselves is somehow selfish and wrong.  But is it really?

Self-care means different things to different people.  For some, it might mean doing something expensive, like having your hair or nails done.  For others, it might be a cheap or free activity, even something as simple as taking time to be by yourself for a while.

My favourite way to pass the time when I’m feeling down is with colouring-in books.  It’s thought by some that colour can be a good way to lift your mood.  There even used to be a treatment called “colour therapy” once.  I find when I’m paying close attention to the pictures I can feel myself relaxing with each different colour I add.  It’s amazing that something so simple can make such a difference.

We all have different ways of taking care of ourselves because we’re all different as people. Whatever it means to you, though, self-care is very important.

I saw a good saying the other day on the internet: “Self-care is a necessary part of life. You can’t serve from an empty vessel” – “vessel” being an old-fashioned word for a container. What it means, is that if we don’t take time to look after our own well-being, we can’t effectively be of any use to other people.  Just like an empty container is of no use, until it’s filled up again.

I think we need to re-charge our batteries just to live our daily lives the way we should with those we love – as sisters, mothers, fathers, brothers, friends, caregivers.  Let alone giving to strangers in need.  Far from being a selfish activity, self-care can be our best way of continuing to ensure that we have the capacity to give out to others.

So I encourage you to regularly take time out to do something you enjoy and find restorative, whatever that is.  Whether it involves just you or others, just because you need to.  It’s not selfish – it’s important!

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