If you're looking for ideas on how to keep physically and mentally well and fill your days with good things, we're here to keep things BACE-ic for you.
That's right — basic! BACE is a simple way to divide our daily activities into four categories: Body care, Achievement, Connecting with others, and Enjoyment.
Never heard of it? The idea comes from cognitive behaviour therapy and is designed to get you doing things that tick all these boxes, sometimes all at once.
"BACE encompasses fantastic principles for everyone to adopt, especially as we begin our journey into self-isolation," says Dr Grant Blashki, lead psychologist at BeyondBlue.
"There is plenty of great research which highlights a strong connection between our physical and mental health, as well as the benefits in taking some extra time to focus on self-care."
A routine that has activities across all BACE categories is good for us, experts say, because it releases good chemicals in our brain which are key to staying mentally healthy. That's because:
- Exercise releases endorphins;
- Achievement releases dopamine;
- Connecting with people releases oxytocin;
- Physical activity releases serotonin.
With that in mind, here are some suggestions to help improve your self-care.
It's easy to forget that it takes time to take care of our bodies.
It can be helpful to write down in a weekly planner (here's an example of a BACE worksheet) when and how you're going to do these activities, so you know exactly how much time to devote to them.
This can include setting a time for when you put down your phone and get ready to wind down for the day.
For healthy eating, it can include time for meal prep and shopping for food.
For exercise, as well as noting when you're going to do it, it might be about making a note to have your exercise clothes ready to go for the next day's workout.
Body care also includes the things that help us feel good, like showering and brushing our hair, or putting on an outfit that makes you feel happy.
We feel good about ourselves when we have a sense of achievement and accomplishment.
What give you a sense of satisfaction? Make a list of things, be they big or small, and see how you can incorporate these into your week.
Do you love to read or bake? Do you feel immense satisfaction when your bathroom is clean or when your home office space feels organised? Does an afternoon of gardening make you feel pleased? Or maybe it's learning some new chords on your ukulele?
You can also feel a sense of achievement by completing tasks that you've been putting off for a long time. (Hello, shoebox full of receipts!)
Be they long-term goals you're working towards, or small things that just need to get done, a sense of achievement will give you momentum to achieve more.
Connecting with others
The way we connect with others has changed so much because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Setting aside time to meaningfully connect with friends, family, your partner, or pets is hugely important in a time of self-isolation and social distancing.
Writing down the times and ways you will connect with people can give you something to look forward to throughout the week.
It's also a reminder that connection doesn't just happen by itself — it needs planning, and it's something you can initiate and take into your own hands.
Whether it's a video chat with your best friend, a phone call to a grandparent, or reading a bedtime story with your kids, these are the moments that sustain us and make us feel good. Connection can often be had with 'enjoyment', which leads us to...
Are you doing enough of the things that make you feel good? We're talking hobbies, dancing, playing, podcasts, movies, puzzles: anything that makes you experience satisfaction and pleasure.
This is the time to think about what enjoyment means to you.
Is there an old hobby you'd like to revisit? Is there a new one you're curious to try?
You might enjoy playing the ukulele with friends over video chat. Congrats! That's achievement, connection, and enjoyment all at once!
Find things you enjoy and scatter them throughout your week. It's a sure-fire way to ensure feel-good opportunities every day, and we could all do with more of those.
This article contains general information only. You should consider obtaining independent professional advice in relation to your particular circumstances.