‘No one belongs here more than you,’ are thought-provoking words declared by American author Brené Brown in her Braving the Wilderness self help book.

The catchphrase that alludes to putting you at the centre of your life has ricocheted across the twitterverse, and has struck a positive chord of self-care with many. Yet, some social commentators have said the message is self centred and rings quite hollow in this age, where putting others' needs before your own is actually seen as more valiant. Let’s apply this to our own backyard.

During this pandemic we have seen how nurses and home schoolers have put aside their own desires in order to care for, or teach others. The fires of 2019-2020, fire fighters forgot about themselves, and went into the line of fire to save others.The nature of some choices and careers will automatically lead a person into putting someone else into the centre of their universe even if it’s only for one event or period of time.

So how can we find a balance between the self-love guru messages, and genuine self-forgetfulness, when someone is in need?

One Blue Mountains psychologist said outward thinking can work in favour of the individual. “Displaying kindness does us good,” she told the Blue Mountains Phoenix. “When we do something for somebody else, it can take us out of our problems – it’s helping you.”

On the other hand she knows much about the maltreatment some of her clients have had from being victims of sexual abuse or domestic violence – and talks about how they and others doing it tough can practise self-compassion.

“It’s a very hard journey to even like themselves again... they need to see some success in their lives, take some risks, go and learn to do something, learn a craft, read a book, go get an education, but it’s so hard for many of them to take that first step,” she said.

“If people have been telling you, you are crap all your life, you've got to disprove that, somehow or another, to yourself.”

She advised that having success in your life doesn't come by sitting around watching TV, or taking drugs, but to step outside those avoidance strategies and take some risks, you might fail, you might succeed – at least you have taken one step forward.

Healthline adds to the narrative by giving us a list of practical ways to enhance our individual care:
1. Get plenty of sleep, as not enough can affect our moods, concentration and health.
2. Eat food that nourishes your body.
3. GPs recommend we get at least three 20-minute sessions of moderate intensity exercise per week.
4. Do some self-examination: identify what is stressing you, and think about how you can remove that, or handle it more effectively.
5. Boost cognitive skills by reading, or learning something new – perhaps the ukulele?
6. Seeing a mental health professional, and working through issues with them can help us see significant improvements.
7. Having companionship with loved ones is great, but branching out and making new connections can also be rewarding.

And consider these downtime activities from Everyday Health that you can do during Covid: 1. Plan a weekly meeting with yourself, and figure out ways you can be more productive.
2. Reap the benefits of laughter by watching classic comedy shows.
3. Try relaxing with an audiobook.
4. Declutter a part of your home.
5. Join a virtual book club.

So let’s remember to practise self-compassion in these ways, and see how we can have a good balance of loving others, and ourselves during these shifting times.

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