Photo by Oleksandr Pidvalnyi
What does “self care” mean and how do you create what is the best self care for you? It is a bit confusing and overwhelming at times, figuring out what might be the most helpful wellness plan for ourselves. I am going to give my thoughts in a nutshell as to how to find the best self care for you.
First of all, what is self care? I see self care as incorporating healthy ways to keep your mind, body, and soul strong, vibrant and healthy. Well being is another word I sometimes use for self care.
Photo by Skitterphoto
Five Strategies to Create the Best Self Care for YOU . . .
- First on the list is to recognize what is best for you may not look like what is best for your spouse or for your best friend or whatever is currently in fashion. Choose what will make the most difference for you. We are all unique individuals with varying values and goals. Think about what you feel you are missing that would help you feel better. What areas in your life do you feel do not contribute to your well being or serve you well? Focus on these areas to make changes that will help you to feel strong and vibrant, full of well being. Currently for my self I have been focusing on more meditation and prayer, plus more movement. And then, adding more fun in my life:) You may be trying to get more sleep or eat in a more healthy way or hydrate your body more. It might be decluttering a room. You will have your own individual needs.
- Consider the “season” of your life and what will fit in comfortably and dove tail with what is going on in your life at this time. Decide what is most important and in what way you can integrate it into your current chapter of life. Basically it is about taking it a step at a time and doing what you can do and feeling good about it. Small changes can make big difference in feeling better. Be compassionate with yourself as you go through this journey toward more well being and vibrant energy.
- Be holistic in your plan for self care. Taking care of ourselves is more than creating an exercise plan. To look at your body, mind and soul is all important. It all works together for creating what will be the strongest and most vibrantly healthy you, as we now know there is a mind-body connection. Taking it one step at a time and starting with what you feel will be the most beneficial for you keeps it from being overwhelming. And then continuing to add in what will make you feel more strong, healthy and happy.
- Create a plan that is flexible and evolving. Perfection is not the goal. It is helpful to remember it is not a competition, but an unfolding of creating what is best for you and what you value and deem as most important. Your body and state of mental welling being will tell you where you need to start or put the most focus on. Listen to your internal gut. Being willing to try new things can help. There are many roads to self care. You will find some of these new things fit and some will not. You can always re-align yourself to a better fit if need be.
- Design a plan that is balanced as to your own self care and that of maintaining a healthy family and relationship life and attending to your work and to what you consider your “purpose”. This can be tricky as many of us live very full lives and it can feel like we do not have time for self care and relationship and work care as well. It is possible at times to merge your self care with relationship care if you are doing some of these things together. Maybe you are cooking healthy food together or it might be you are doing family walks in the evening together or other activities that promote good self care. Of course, sometimes the self care is about having some quiet time by yourself. Everyone communicating about how to incorporate every ones needs is important and keeps misunderstandings from occurring with your loved ones.
Photo by Brandon Montrone
Self care is about caring for you and choosing to do what is ultimately best for you as a whole person, interweaving this with all of the other aspects of your life. It is a journey and it will shift and change as you do. I have found personally to accept that my self care endeavors will not be perfect and that is ok. Getting back up and starting again when I get off track is just a part of this evolving plan that shifts and aliens with the rest of my life. I will at time have more focus on my family and work and other times more focus on my self care. Of course having self care be consistent is most helpful, but I know at times this will not happen due to special circumstances. Life is a continuing flow of choices and a need to focus on what you deem most important at the time. All of the pieces are like a tapestry and can be woven together to create the life you want.
I wish you the best in your journey to better self care and creating your own beautiful tapestry.
I welcome comments from you as to what has been helpful for you in your journey to better self care and wellness.
Professional Disclosure: This blog is offered as educational information and is not offered as professional therapeutic services. This is not intended as treatment. For professional help contact your local mental health professional. Strom Individual and Family Therapy is not liable for any action or non action you take in regard to this article.
Can we really unplug, relax and enjoy? I say yes, we can do this. But it is a very conscious choice we make in each and every moment I think. As of recent due to increased job, community and personal commitments I have found myself in a place to really re-look at this concept.
As I begin my vacation travels this week, I see lots of folks completely plugged in and checked out to others around them, including themselves. I am not suggesting we all throw out all of our electronic devices we are all a bit addicted to. But I am suggesting that we do a check in with ourself every so often as to the balance of being emerged in our high-tech environments and the “crazy busy” life so many of us create for ourselves AND taking time for self-care and letting joy and peace flow into our live. Thus my own check in as I take some time away from it all.
As I sat on a plane earlier yesterday, I sat across from a father who had his young baby son lying on his lap. The baby was asleep with his little arms flung out above his head, a content and utterly peaceful experience on his face. To his side dad had another child who was resting on his shoulder, cuddled up and asleep by her daddy. It was all so sweet and very calming to be sitting by. A bit of a “wake up call” for me to take more time for this beautiful, peaceful calm together time with my loved ones. Without this balance we can feel disconnected and very un-centered.
So I am off to begin this process to re-balancing once again. And yes it is an over and over process I think. It is so easy to get off course, but always possible to get back on a path of more joy and peacefulness.
Some questions you might ask yourself as you too are trying to access and get back on the path:
- How am I doing? How do I feel the majority of the time?
- What am I doing on a day-to-day basis for self-care?
- Do I plan long-term what is the very best for me and what I want and what brings joy to my life?
- What kinds of boundaries do I set up to make sure I am doing what is the best thing for me and that is balanced and healthy?
- And the ultimate question, “Is this how I want to live my life?”
I hope you will enjoy this beautiful spring time emerging around us and use it as a time for re-birth and new beginnings toward better self-care and reaching for all the joy and happiness you deserve.
Much peace and love to you all.
When we are ON all the time we begin to feel burned out and drained and find not much left for care of ourselves or of our relationships. It actually can begin to feel addictive, this need to be ON and “plugged in”. I can attest for my own self that I have to constantly be on guard as to how much I let things control my time. We have more power than we think we do. There is a practical, realistic piece as to work and personal commitments. What I do find interesting is that so many times the more balanced we become, the more focused and purpose driven we become. We can even accomplish more when we are in our ON work mode all of the time. And it can feel every so good when we are ON and all of our creative juices are flowing. This is most true of course when we love our work. It is finding that lovely balance that we all so crave. And that may be a bit different for each one of us.
But for so many it feels like we live in a crazy, busy world. So how can we switch to our OFF mode more often? Doing a bit of reflection can help to access your balance. This is a place to start.
Are you in OFF mode enough for Self and Relationship Health?
- What does your body tell you? You might consider how you feel physically.
- What does your internal “gut” tell you? So many times we know when we get quiet and still for a bit to consider this.
- Are you happy? Do you like how you are spending your time? Does it match up with your goals and desires for yourself and your relationship?
- Do your loved ones complain that they never see you or that you don’t spend enough time with them?
- Do you have enough contact with your family and friends that you really know what is going on in their lives?
- Do you feel close and connected with loved ones?
- Do you spend more time on Facebook, texting, on the internet than you do with your family? Does your “electronic world” take away from having OFF time that you need for your self renewal and your relationships?
None of us will be perfectly synced and balanced all the time with the perfect OFF / ON balance. But what we can consider is what this looks like most of the time. Plus, what is one man or women’s perfect fit is not so much for another person.
What are Some Practical Strategies to Put More OFF Time in Your LIfe?
- Get very clear as to what you want for your life. How much time do you want to be in work and volunteer commitment mode? In personal self-care mode? And in nourishing your relationships? Visualizing what you want can help you get there. It will lead you to make decisions that really fit for what you want in your life.
- Choose carefully what you do with your time. Make it match up with what you want. This feels the most rewarding and is the least draining of our energy.
- Strongly consider your personal relationship with your “electronic world”. Decide on purpose how much time you spend with the varying media that draws us in. Facebook, texting, Pinterest, Instagram, etc, etc,
- Listen to your “inner voice” to keep you on track. Setting aside a bit of quiet time each day for yourself can help you to stay in tune with what you really need.
- Listen to your loved ones. Really hear what they are saying. Make sense of it and take action to keep close connections.
Note: As I try to always “walk the talk” I will be taking a break from posting on my blog this next week to spend personal time with my family. I wish you well in your own personal journey in finding the right ON / OFF balance in your life.
Which is more important loving yourself or loving others? That should cause some discussion. I think the other question is “Where does self-love start and does one need to love themselves to be able to love others in a healthy way?”
Love starts when we are infants. How we are raised and what messages we are given about ourselves has a profound affect on how we view ourselves and if we have a good self-esteem and if we truly love who we are. Our life experiences outside of our home also plays a part in how we feel about ourselves. This affects our relationships. How we feel about ourselves will affect our choice of partners and friends, etc. It will color our view of relationships. If you did not have an optimal childhood there are ways to work through all of this and have a healthy relationship. Being with a healthy person in your relationship can help with some of the reparative work.
To sum up some of the main ideas on the issue of self-love and love of others:
- Love starts with loving yourself. If you question whether you love yourself or even like yourself, then it is time to look at this and begin a love affair with yourself. This is something that cannot be taken away from you. It is the ultimate gift we can give our self. When we feel good about ourselves just the way we are. it opens up this wonderful space to be really HAPPY. If you have had a difficult childhood, this may mean getting some help to work through this. But it can be done.
- If you want others to show their love to you, starting with showing your love is a good way to get this two-way flow going. When we are open with our love and support for our loved ones, then this tends to flow back to us. If it is not flowing back, then it is ok to let folks know what you need. This may be different for different folks. Many of you are probably familiar with the Five Love Languages. The basic premise is that we have a dominant preference for what makes us feel loved. For some it may be receiving gifts. Others it may be acknowledgement and praise. For some it might be acts of service (ex. helping). Then there are those that feel loved most when they are physically touched. Some thrive on quality time. And then lastly, it may be that you are multi-faceted, like me – I like all of these! The main point of all of this is that we can lovingly and respectfully tell our loved ones what we need.
- Back to loving yourself. This is where it starts and ends. You must love yourself just as you are unconditionally to feel good about yourself. Plus. if for some reason others are not giving you the love you need you can not only communicate your needs, but you can have the basic foundation piece in place “LOVING YOURSELF” which will always serve you well. You might be wondering what does this really mean, loving yourself? For me loving my self is to live authentically, choosing my work and activities to match up with what I am passionate about and what I believe in. And it means good self-care along with caring about my happiness and those I love. You will have your own definition that fits for you.
Loving “from the inside out” is loving yourself first, thus allowing your love to then be given to others in a healthy way. Remember you are unique and lovable just the way you are!
Are you too busy for self-care? Too busy for the good stuff? You are not alone. I am currently in process of putting together a presentation for a group of therapists on self-care and have found myself ironically just too busy to do good self-care for myself due to this extra project. I finally got a hold of myself and said, “ENOUGH. You must take time to care for yourself or you will not be of help to anyone else.” My body actually did some of this for me this last week and had me not feeling well, needing to cancel some commitments. I always joke with my family that my body will just shut me down if I do not listen to it. And it truly does so.
First of all what is good self-care?
- Starting with the “basics”. Enough sleep to feel refreshed when you get up in the morning. Healthy food that makes you feel good and keeps your body in good working order and full of energy. Let us not forget, lots of water which has been shown to help alleviate stress and of course helps to flush toxins from the body. Then there is physical exercise, which can come in many forms. It can be a simple daily evening walk or going to the YMCA two nights a week, riding your bike or whatever is a fit for you to help keep you physically healthy.
- Then we have emotional health that is very intertwined with the body. The mind-body connection is strong and research continues to grow in this area. Stress affects your emotional and physical health. How you are doing emotionally makes a difference as to how you will fare physically. This is common sense that we all witness. But our busy lives keep us in a place where we do not always think about what we really know instinctively about our bodies. One thing to consider about your stress is how you view it. You have a choice in how you choose to look at something, even if you can not change the circumstances. By choosing to think in a way that helps you to feel better, you can be in a more peaceful place.
- Putting your joy and happiness up at the top of your list is important. This allows you to then share that happiness with your families and loved ones. Balancing family needs and personal needs can be challenging. But the more balance the better you will feel.
So what can you do when you are just too busy to do good self-care???
- You can PRIORITIZE. Meaning you can decide what is most important and rank in order what you feel you most need to do. At the top of the list should be good self-care. And yes that is not always easy. It many times means having to let go of something else. There really are only 24 hours in a day. Even though I so want more at times. But 24 is REALLY enough. When you live each moment in the present and know you will never have it all done and it is ok, you can feel so much more peaceful.
- You can say NO to some things. You can let go of having to have your list completely done each day. You can do the best you can and feel good about what you did accomplish. You can remind yourselves you do not need to be perfect. You are wonderful just the way you are!
- You can do mini self-care breaks. Maybe you really do have to finish a work project or take our child to practice each night. But you can incorporate ways to take breaks with your work. Maybe it is a simple 5 or 10 minute walk outside to regroup. Or maybe you decide you can carpool with another parent for your child’s practice. You may feel you need to have a large block of time to do self care. I would invite you to consider ways to incorporate smaller bite sized self care breaks. I know for me more self care happens when I use this approach.
I will be exploring the issue of self-care in more detail in my fall quarterly newsletter. If you wish to subscribe to my newsletter, you are welcome to go my website and go into the Well Being Newsletter tab and sign up there. My website address is as follows: www.stromtherapy.com I might add I have an archive of all my past newsletters in this section of my website.
Take good care of yourself. YOU are so worth it!