For the first edition of self-care conversations I couldn’t think of a better interviewee than Kim Cooper, an absolutely delightful soul who radiates wisdom about all things self-care, self-love and authenticity. As a professional singer, the primary carer for her Dad and the founder of the This Hot Mess blog, Kim sure knows a thing or two about the juggle of life and the importance of taking time for yourself in order to give to those around you.
Q. What does self-care mean to you and what role does it play in your life?
Kim: Self-care plays a massive role in my life since becoming my Dad’s primary carer five years ago. To me, it means including things that make me happy, inspired, relaxed and remind me of who I am outside of the roles I fulfil in my life (carer, friend, aunty, sister, daughter, blogger). My approach to self-care is less of a reaction to when I need to relax, and more of a preventative stance. This is so I never feel like I “have” to take a break, I regularly do things that feel like breaks. Preventative self-care I feel is a huge key to a happy, healthy life!
Q. How do you like to practice self-care? Are there certain activities/rituals that best work for you?
Kim: Self-care for me looks like catching up with a friend over some delicious food in a cool restaurant or taking myself out of a sneaky midday wine with a good book somewhere with a pretty view. Self-care is also ensuring I carve out time frequently for yoga and walks in the fresh air. It's all about things that reconnect me to my loved ones, and myself.
Q. Self-care isn't always easy. What advice do you have for anyone who's struggling to prioritise themselves?
Kim: I worked out a long time ago that taking care of myself is actually one of the most selfless things I can do overall. If I burn out, get snappy, irritable, unhappy… then I am not my most selfless, loving, others focused self. It’s then that I become “selfish”. But if I’m smart with my self-care and boundaries, then it allows me to be more selfless overall and not let people down because I’m left not feeling like my best self.
Q. Do you have a favourite quote, mantra or role model that inspires you to practice self-care?
Kim: Funnily enough, it was through a bad experience that I found my inspiration to take self-care so seriously. When I first told a particular Doctor in hospital that I was going to move to Ocean Grove to care for Dad, he scoffed at me and said that 90% of carers of family members drop out in the first 12 months. It may not have come in the kind, loving, positive way I would prefer, but his words helped me understand that if I didn’t create a life I loved and could sustain when being Dad’s primary carer, I was going to end up dropping out, and that wouldn’t be best for him in the long run. So looking back, I'm thankful to that Doctor as he inspired me to take self care seriously as five years later, I’m still here successfully caring for Dad and we are both flourishing.
You can follow Kim on Instagram at @kimelisecooper