Thursday 20th January 2022

Self-Care: Share Your Story #1. 7/51 #LifeThisWeek. 16/2019.

Self-Care: Share Your Story #1. 7/51  #LifeThisWeek. 16/2019.

It is my plan this year to be accountable to my personal growth via this blog each 7th week.

I will post what I have done for self-care and what I may not have done for self-care and the why and how of this:


I admit I have been somewhat confused about this as I tread my path through life, so I went to this source and liked the definitions.

What is self-care?
Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Although it’s a simple concept in theory, it’s something we very often overlook. Good self-care is key to improved mood and reduced anxiety. It’s also key to a good relationship with oneself and others.

What isn’t self-care?
Knowing what self-care is not might be even more important. It is not something that we force ourselves to do, or something we don’t enjoy doing. As Agnes Wainman explained, self-care is “something that refuels us, rather than takes from us.”

Self-care isn’t a selfish act either. It is not only about considering our needs; it is rather about knowing what we need to do in order to take care of ourselves, being subsequently, able to take care of others as well. That is, if I don’t take enough care of myself, I won’t be in the place to give to my loved ones either.

Before I Really Understood Self-Care.

Way before I was diagnosed with head and neck cancer, I had quite a few years of being anxious and it was attributed to my (then) life transitions from active grandmother caring for grandkids, part-time teaching and tutoring roles, preparing the family home for sale, and then moving away from all “I knew” with my husband to begin our life in retirement.

This transition was so rough on my physical and emotional health that I lost quite a bit of weight (needed to anyway), had irritable bowel issues multiply and I developed a fear of travelling and more. This kind of thing meant intervention (I wanted it too) by my caring GP and eventually a great psychologist. She was relentless in her way of making me see what I was capable of doing and I admit it was hard at times, but she also gave homework which I (teacher-me) was diligent to do. One such exercise back in 2016 was to make a list of what I did for self-care.

It is an old-ish list but much of it pertains to me still even through the “life lesson of cancer”. I stopped needing the help from this psychologist about 6 months post my first cancer surgery and I only ever saw her infrequently then. Her work sending me ‘my work to complete’ paid off! I carried this with me and had it at the old house in my art room It was a good reminder.

Self-Care Post-Cancer Diagnosis.

In late 2017 after my first big cancer surgery I needed a LOT of time to recover physically and emotionally. Art continued to be helpful. So did keeping in touch with people via social media. I did, after 8 weeks, know I needed more. I missed seeing the ocean and the various spots of nature I love so my husband and I would take a drive to the beach on occasion. I also knew, by the end of October, I needed to ‘do something that was personal’ for self-care and that was when my #dresswithpurpose began as did my outing for a coffee.

At the beginning of 2018 I decided on 3 elements to my self-care every day.

  1. Dress With Purpose and Go Out For a Coffee.
  2. Notice Nature Deliberately Wherever I am.
  3. Make Something via Art or Create Daily.

And now, in 2019, Self-Care.

  • I am continuing to dress with purpose, have a photo  taken and go somewhere for a coffee. Sometimes it is to meet up with a friend.
  • I love my art and mandala making and the mandalas in particular have made a come-back as I knew I needed to get my mind into one place again aka mindful so this is very self-caring
  • I notice my body signals better when I am moving from self-care to self- indulgence. This is mostly related to eating. It has been a joy and a challenge to eat within reasonable limits and not keep on eating. I am s  l  o  w  l  y learning that self-care requires me to be self-aware.
  • The Mindful Eating book and CD and the Mindless Eating book and audio version are teaching me more about MY previous ways of eating than I ever knew. That I am doing this for me is very self-caring. The first post I wrote about this is here.
  • Being able to tell how I am slipping down the self-unkindness slope is even better. That critic that lives inside me has been outing herself a little too much of late, so when I realised, I thought about it and came up with this…..
  • We are all works-in-progress of course. I love that I am learning something new every day even about myself. I have found ‘old voices and messages’ come through when I am more stressed or tired.
  • To help my self-care stay on track I have added reminders in my phone in blocks of time about eating meals, getting off social media, taking time outside, reading and even switching off for the night. It is working well. Mostly. Social media…mmmm time stealer and confidence can wane if I spend too much time there.

Jade Harriman’s tweet caught my eye, and with her permission, I am linking back to her blog post about Self-Care. Jade has 4 pages of ideas around self-care. Do check them out! Here are six.

  • Taking some spending money and going second-hand shop just for fun
  • Buying a bunch of fresh flowers for a friend, neighbour or colleague
  • Going for a run outside
  • Spending time with an animal
  • Washing your hair with something that smells nice and drying it with care
  • Writing a card of appreciation or care for someone in your life

Thank You Jade

And in noting gratitude, I read this and it has resonated as the person “who was/still can be fear-driven’ …see what you think. I believe that when we notice and connect with what we are grateful for and about, then other matters fade into the background.

“Gratitude isn’t about ignoring everything that could be improved; it’s about shining a light on what’s already working, which creates positive feelings about now while enabling positive plans for later. In a very real way, gratitude is the antidote to fear.

Fear views events as insufficient, obstructive and unfair; gratitude sees circumstances as useful, empowering and ultimately positive.

Fear Implies there’s something to hide and run from; gratitude suggests there’s something to embrace.

You can only experience positive emotions and results if you are willing to be responsible for creating them – that means tapping into the part of you that recognises the good both in what is and in what can be”

Lori Deschene:  Tiny Buddha: Simple Wisdom For Life’s Hard Questions.

P 252.  2018 (republish) Rockwell Publishing.

That is it for now. Self-care is on-going.

What are you doing to self-care?




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Next week’s optional prompt is: 8/51. My Favourite Decade. 25/2/19.

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  1. Denyse,
    Thanks for sharing both your personal definition of ‘self-care’ as it relates to your life both now and previously as well as taking it back to more formal definitions. Always a great place to start those formal definitions when trying to think about something.

    SSG xxx

    • It is true. I need to have the back-up of the facts and then to explore how that works for me.

      I’ll be at COBLH tomorrow which in one way was looming as a ‘worry’ about potentially more surgery. It was getting me down. Then I used some self-talk that helped and all the fear has morphed into “So, I wonder how tomorrow will be!”.

      Hope you are adjusting OK to the longer work week.

      Denyse x

  2. I love that art and connecting on social media is helping you. And what a great idea to dress for a purpose and go out for a coffee. Self care is so important.

    Di from Max The Unicorn

    • It has been an absolute great plan that has stood the test of time. It kind of was something I NEEDED to do to re-connect with a social world outside the house and being unwell and I am not stopping now!!

      Denyse x

  3. I agree self-care is ongoing, Denyse. I’m glad you’ve been taking good care of yourself. I do daily meditation, walking outdoors, and other exercises to keep my mind and body healthy. On my blog, I host a Wellness link up every second Wednesday of the month. Please feel free to join.

    • Thank you Natalie. Yes, if we do not keep up with our plans as it can easily happen we do fall into a less healthy way of life.

      Thank you for the invitation to join in with your link up. I shall when I remember!

      Denyse x

  4. I also agree that self-care is ongoing and ever evolving into different things, Denyse. I started my morning with yoga and weights and then a motivating podcast which really helped my ‘Mondayitis’. Great to see you promoting self care and nurturing through your blog and social media. Even just sitting outside for a few minutes can make a difference can’t it? Have a great week and thanks for the link up. xx

    • Thank you Sue!

      Oh yes and Monday, even without working has a definite challenge of its own.

      I have done a couple of things about my approach to MY Mondays. We do the housework/clean each fortnight and I switched my day to Sunday mornings and then go for my coffee, knowing Monday doesn’t have that in it. When I was having so many appointments at Westmead I deliberately chose Mondays as well.

      I think that getting out of bed can sometimes be the challenge. Not nearly as much for me as it was when I was incredibly anxious.

      I often walk outside and look up. Never better after that.

      Denyse x

  5. I also listed the notice nature – isn’t it easy what a difference a simple task can make! I also do the washing hair with something that smells nice – when I can, I buy the L’occitaine conditioner (you can use any shampoo) – the smell is divine and really lifts my spirits – when I can’t (cos it’s about $35!) I use a grapefruit or lemon bodywash just a supermarket one(or jasmine/frangipani/coconut, to make me think of holidays). Really gives you a boost first thing.

    • The under-ratedness of scent! Yes, my husband loves to smell my hair after I have washed it.

      Me? I don’t notice it but some smells can overpower me. I cannot go into a Lush store.

      My faves are frangipanis and roses with scent but coconut is a firm winner too.

      Love your sharing of this.

      Thanks so much

      Denyse x

  6. I’m needing some self-care this week. Being home and able to walk and be outside is certainly a good start. Watching the waves this morning really energised me again.

    • I saw your photo today and wondered how long you stayed and watched those waves. They teach us that no moment is ever the same and they are so lovely to watch.

      I imagine that coming back home after the Sydney Office and living again is a time when you need a de-compress and some me time.

      I find I am like that the day after driving to Sydney and having very long appointments at Westmead. 2 hours, 4 hours in chair, 1.5 hours home…physically and emotionally worn out.

      A morning at the beach or somewhere in nature the next day is my fix.

      I hope you and the new work role begins to agree with you….or it is a very temporary thing.

      Denyse x

  7. Self Care is such a great topic Denyse. It’s something I’m quite passionate about but still myself have to constantly try and do. I’ve noticed that lately I’m feeling overwhelmed and getting down a lot. I love blogging and all that it involves but I think I’m spending far too much time sitting at my computer and glued to my phone and social media …. so I know I need to pull back a bit, reassess how I’m spending my days and try and get the balance better for me. It’s something you can never be complacent about or it slips and backwards you slide. You’re doing a fab job with what you do Denyse. xo

    • Yes to the staying-on-line too much.

      I find it wears me down sometimes emotionally due to that “oh everyone is living a great life but me” so I truly have to leave it and do something else or go outside.

      It is a great way to connect but over-connection and letting it affect our health means …like you and I know, time to move to something different!

      I have a post which is anone from 2018 I have re-done to be part of #ZTT tomorrow but I will be travelling then in Sydney for most of the day. Will catch up later!

      Denyse x

  8. This is a very inspiring post Denyse. X

  9. I love reading your stories Denyse and always learn something from you. I admire your tenacity and bounce back attitude, although I know it’s never an easy road top travel. I think I’m much more aware of self care these days and try to practice taking note of when i’m off and doing something about it. I have a facial booked this week and love feeling pampered. Massages are also good and a nice walk or spontaneous activity can also help in this regard. Take care and carry on!! Thanks for the link up, I love the supportive environment you have created.

    • Thank you Debbie, I appreciate your kind wishes.

      I like your attitude and that you recognise your need to have some pampering.

      I only just realised the other day that it has been YEARS since I did anything other than have a haircut.

      I used to have some massages when a family member worked in a healthy life style place and I also had half leg waxes and eye brows too.


      Cancer and all that put paid to anything other than ‘getting through’ the surgeries and the many, many treatments at the prosthodontist.

      I am going to see, after my cancer check visit tomorrow, that IF there is no planned surgery coming up, I might get something nice done to my body (you know what I mean!) for a change.

      Denyse x

  10. I think you self care like a boss! I like to read, move outside (a run or a walk is so restorative,) vitamin sea, curling up with a book, stepping away from the computer, volunteering, baking (and then sharing with others,) and dog patting are some of my favourite ways to take care of my self. Hoping to get a dog of our own later this year and take self care to the next level!

    • Thanks Sam! I hope the trip back to your mum is going well.

      It is good to have a range of ideas for self-care and when something seems awry it maybe that a change is needed. For me that can be as small as walking outside! Just did that then after a big and busy day at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse!

      Denyse x

  11. Self care means different things to different people doesn’t it Denyse? Just reading the comments you can see that each does it a little differently. My self care atm revolves around putting a stop to the toxic person I work with – allowing myself to say No and to walk away from her stories and imagined sorrows – you can only help someone who wants to move forward, then it’s time to admit they’re stuck and to start looking after yourself.

    • Ah that IS good to know. Boundaries by you will keep you feeling better even when nothing changes from the person you work with.

      It is unrelenting when you face it each time you go to work but good on you for changing how you think and act about this matter too.


      Denyse x