Self-Care Interview with Liv Cunningham
"Some days self-care means I brush my hair for a minute longer, or I take an extra long shower."
Liv loves travelling, taking beautiful snaps of her adventures and share these on her Instagram. She is a big lover of poetry, coffee and candles. If you need some tips where to travel next (of course when we can) and self-care activities to do during the holidays, definitely check out her IG @heyliv18.
What does self-care mean to you?
Self- care is a very conscious process for me. Buzz words like Mental hygiene, reconnecting with myself, checking in with my mind, spirit and body, saying to myself ‘slow down’ come to mind.
Some days self-care means I brush my hair for a minute longer, or I take an extra long shower. Other days, it’s being a little kinder to myself. Most days I find myself on autopilot, drifting by. Consciously checking in with myself to see where I am at mentally, physically, spiritually & emotionally is self care at its most simple level. The next step is healthily responding to biofeedback from mind, soul, body, and this combined for me, is self-care.
Has your perception of self-care changed, particularly with the events of this year?
YES- I have become less hard on myself for all things. As a perfectionist, with affective and anxiety disorders, I struggle to allow myself to rest, take breathers and relax. My brain and body don’t do “relaxing”.
Throughout the pandemic, I have learnt how to facilitate this for myself which in turn changed my perception of self-care. Self care use to be a lot of pampering, or treating myself to tangible, disposable things, when now it often includes reconnecting with myself and nature and taking a step back from things.
What are some of the misconceptions around self-care?
I think the term itself is misused. One individuals definition for self-care is not compatible with someone else’s. It’s like our fingerprints - all unique to us.
Self-care has lots of connotations of having to spend money on something (e.g. shopping) or be doing something in a specific manner (e.g. yoga and poses, adding lush bathbombs to your spa night). I use to get nervous doing yoga (even alone) because I thought I was doing the poses wrong, when yoga is all about mind and body connection and breathing in to spaces and the only worry for positioning is to make sure you’re not causing any harm!
The definition of self-care refers to the SELF, the individual, and a majority of the time we look towards others to establish our own self-care when it really starts from within. We also do a lot of caring of other people and that level of ‘care’ should be reflected into our self-care (which is not easy to do!) All in all, self-care is a shapeshifter, it never looks the exact same as someone else’s, and it is entirely adaptable to specific situations we find ourselves in.
What are some of your favourite self-care activities or affirmations?
Yoga! Focusing on moving my breath throughout my body. This places me in control and helps me reset and ground myself.
Decluttering my immediate environment - so clearing surfaces and wiping them clean and lighting a candle. My recent favourite is logging off from my masters degree work before i’ve run out of motivation/ energy (a skill i’m quite proud of!)
Sometimes it’s as simple as scrolling mindlessly through tumblr or listening to music and then checking in with myself to see how it felt. Importantly, when i’m having off days, I know how to respond and work through situations.
Over the course of the pandemic, there is a lot of pressure around isolation, and guilt around being away from or inaccessible to family. I learned by living through these feelings that Self-care is sometimes just looking after yourself first, and setting boundaries- but that’s another topic all in itself!
Lately, getting out and moving has been my biggest form of self care. Anxiety and depression tend to stop me in my tracts and makes me forget about moving, sometimes making it physically difficult to get up and do anything. So walking in nature is essential for me, even if i don’t want to leave the house.
Affirmations : I am calm and in control. I control my responses and reactions to all things. I choose to be calm and confident.
How do you make sure you regularly prioritising self-care?
I think checking in with yourself is very important and when this becomes habitual, self-care will come more easy.
When I know I have a lot of work, I will set reminders throughout the day so I don’t sit there, never move and get all tense. Timers help me prioritize my time too!
I also journal a lot. Gratitude and writing my to-do lists generally include a little something for myself (e.g. go for a walk) or to express how grateful I am for getting 20 mins to do some yoga!
Why is it so important to keep going even when you’re feeling better in yourself?
Repetition is the key to success. Self-care should be something everyone practices. However... it can at times feel like a bit of a chore or one of those things we just never get the time to do!
Like habits you need to stick with something until it is second nature. As we are only human, we are bound to have rough days, days when we slip up or are feeling inadequate. Having tools and resources for self care practice allow us to create a safe place for ourselves on these days.
Check out Liv's Instagram @heyliv18 for inspiring travel and self-care photos.