Cats are incredible teachers, from whom we can really learn a lot. They are experts in the art of self-care and have mastered the art of knowing when to be selfish for their own good. Despite this they are great mothers to their young, they are often very loving and can bring a lot of pleasure to the people they adopt. Cats are very proud creatures, who ooze confidence and independence - traits many of us would really benefit from learning.
This article will look at these traits in more detail and explore how you can use them to feel happier, healthier and more confident in yourself.
Cats are very in tune with their own needs, and they know when to attend to them. If they want to play, they play, if they want a fuss they ask for and accept fuss, when they are hungry, they get food – whether that’s from their family, a neighbour down the road, or whether they catch their own food. If they need rest, they rest. Whilst that sounds like a selfish way of living, it’s actually a very sensible way of living, that many other animals follow too. Even babies do this.
There is nothing wrong with putting yourself and your own needs first sometimes, yet for many of us this is a habit, which we allow ourselves to forget.
This can be partially because of the expectations and demands that others place on us – work, parents, media, culture (see also Stand In Your Own Power With The Tiger).
However, you do also need to take some responsibility for this yourself by putting boundaries in place that allow you to have some time for yourself (see lessons from the horse), and by actually making some time for you to do the things that you want or need for yourself.
Believe it or not, you do have the time. Many of us spend too much time aimlessly scrolling on our phones, or watching things on TV that we are not even really that interested in. What could you do in that time? If you got up an hour earlier each day, what could you do in that time?
By making time for you to attend to your own needs, you are investing in your own emotional and mental well-being, your physical well-being and your ability to better cope with the demands of the day and the needs of others who depend on you.
Being selfish isn’t always as bad as it sounds is it?
Now we have looked at why it is important to get selfish and practice self-care, lets look at some of the ways in which you can practice self-care. Again, the cat can teach us lots about this.
First of all burnout is no good for anyone, so it’s important to rest and get plenty of sleep. The Sleep Foundation recommends on average 7-9 hours of sleep per night is needed for adults, whereas 9-11 hours is needed on average for school-age children. Their website has some great tips for helping you and your children get a good night’s sleep
Rest isn’t necessarily the same as sleep. You need to take regular breaks during the day to help you stay focused and energized. If you leave your laptop turned on without plugging it in, eventually it runs out of charge because the battery drains. Like laptops, you only have so much energy and the more you burn it, the more tired you become and the less focused. The more you do, the more energy you use, just like a car needs more fuel when you not only drive it, but you turn on the heaters and the music at the same time. Taking regular breaks allows you to rest, shut down a lot of the thoughts that are running through your head and therefore refocus on the things that you actually want to achieve.
Regular breaks throughout the day are good, but you also need to make time to take longer rests at weekends, or holiday breaks. Have you noticed how much better you feel when you’ve been on holiday and not had to think about all the jobs and tasks you have to do?
Mindfulness and Meditation
Mindfulness is a great way to refocus the mind on the present moment, therefore stilling any busy and intrusive thoughts that you may be experiencing. See The Benefits Of Mindfulness for more information on this.
Meditation is also a great way to rest and refocus. Meditation often involves sitting or lying down and observing your thoughts, without getting distracted or caught up in them. A lot of insight and clarity can come from this. With practice, meditation helps you learn to calm the mind more quickly, which also impacts positively on your physical health.
Love and connection
If people have learned anything from the Coronavirus Outbreak in 2020 and the subsequent periods of lockdown and isolation, it’s the importance of connecting with others, especially the people you love. Mental health has dipped considerably from separating people from their loved ones. Despite more ways to connect electronically now than ever through video calls and social media, that personal and physical connection is so important. Making quality time to spend with loved ones is an experience that no-one ever regrets and everyone benefits from. It’s a huge gift, so make time for it.
Healthy eating & Exercise
It goes without saying that making time to eat properly and exercise regularly are important aspects of self-care and well-being. If you look after your body, your body will look after you. A healthy diet will give you more energy and the nutrients that you need to ward off aches, pains and unwanted illnesses. Likewise exercise energizes you and keeps those vital organs and circulatory system operating fully, in order to build muscle, oxygenate your cells and improve your circulation.
Making time to do the things you enjoy
You only get to live this life once, so enjoy it. What do you enjoy doing? Do more of it. Spending time doing the things you love is so good for your mental health and overall wellbeing. Consider the age -old question “Do you work to live, or live to work?” Even if you love your job, there is so much more to experience besides your work and you still need to switch off sometimes. When you do things that you enjoy you not only relax your brain, but you reconnect with your own identity, not just that of a worker, a husband, wife, parent, son or daughter etc.
Take Pride in Your Achievements
Cats have a strong sense of identity. They know exactly who they are and what they are good at. They walk proudly, with their head held high, giving of an air of complete confidence.
Have you ever come across people like this? They are often very successful at what they do and people look up to them and usually listen when they talk. These people have often learned to recognize what they are good at and the more validation they get from that, the more confidence they have, which shows in the way they move.
Many of us unfortunately are so busy moving goal posts and looking at the end goal, that we don’t stop to see how far we have come and take pride in what has been achieved so far. Many also suffer with Imposter Syndrome – a feeling that whatever we do, we’re not good enough, qualified enough or experienced enough.
Every small step is a step forward and an achievement to be celebrated. The more you do it, the more confident you become and the less you will suffer with Imposter Syndrome. If this is something you don’t already do, start now. Take pride in your successes and you will develop more confidence and start to feel good about yourself. See also Face Your Fears with The Lion for more information about building confidence.
The cat teaches us that it’s ok to put yourself first sometimes. In doing so, you will not only feel happier, healthier and more confident, but you will be much more resilient and better able to help those around you who need it too.
Why not start building great habits for happiness in your routine now and help your family do the same. Family Habits For Happiness is a 5 day mini-course, which introduces you to different strategies to help you calm the mind and manage big emotions, including relaxation exercises, mindfulness and short, simple meditations that can be done regularly by adults and children. There are also webinars, which explain the benefits of meditation and mindfulness for children and how you can help them to learn to meditate. Get it now for just £19.99