Ever fall off the self-care wagon, and have no idea how to jump back on? Not even sure what self care is? Here’s my definition:
Self-Care is any activities and practices we do on a regular basis to reduce stress and maintain / enhance our well-being. It aims to help us:
– Take care of physical and psychological health
– Manage stress
– Honor emotional and spiritual needs
– Foster and sustain relationships
– Achieve an equilibrium across our personal, school, and work lives
I had one of those moments this morning. (It happens regularly so it’s important to strategize.) Self-care isn’t an all or nothing kind of venture. But this morning I got Facebook messages and text messages from neighbors and friends telling me about emergency vehicles at the corner of Lambright and Central. I jumped in the car and came over to see if everything was okay, and it was. But my routine was off.
I still managed to prepare a good lunch, but my self care fell by the wayside. The idea of taking a walk, practicing yoga or meditating seemed like daunting tasks on top of everything else I thought I had to do.
Fortunately, I have a plan in place for this situation. It won’t be the last time I’m de-railed. But here’s what I learned from Sharon Gray of The Nourished Cook.
LIST THREE, PICK ONE
Write down three self-care activities you’d like to do more of (if you only had the time, energy, etc). Use a white board, a journal, a scrap of paper.
If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed and exhausted lately, start with simple things, like taking a deep breath or pouring a cup of tea. Only you know what is reasonable for you at this time. Once you’ve chosen three activities, place the list somewhere you can see it throughout the day (such as the refrigerator door or the bathroom mirror).
Now, here’s the most important part: Every day, look at the list and then pick ONE item to focus on. That’s right, just ONE. If it feels natural and comfortable to do more, that’s fine, but don’t pressure yourself.
WHY PICK JUST ONE?
There’s a time and place for lofty goals, however, many of us place unrealistic expectations on ourselves when it comes to self-care. Ever create a list of healthy “resolutions” only to give up on everything because it was too much to handle all at once? If so, you’re not alone!
Simple changes, on the other hand, practiced over an extended period of time are often long-lasting, and more easily integrated into our daily lives.
The more you offer yourself ANY sort of self-care—even if it’s simply a few minutes of stretching rather than a full workout—the more benefits you’ll notice. And the more benefits you notice, the easier it is to make the time and space for self-care!
WHY BOTHER LISTING THREE?
No matter how simple and helpful a change might be, there’s a part of our brain that often digs its heels into the ground when we start doing something new. Having other options gives that balky part of your mind some wiggle room, without interrupting your self-care practice. For instance, if meditating for five minutes seems unbearable one day, you may want to go for a walk instead. By doing so, you’ll get a break from the new routine, while maintaining the clear intention to care for yourself in the process.
Even just looking at the other items on your list plants a seed in your brain, preparing you to take action further on down the road. Sometimes having a little extra time to get used to an idea may be all you need to make a sustainable change in the long run.
Keep in mind, no matter how diligent you are in your practice, there will most likely be days when that self-care wagon still leaves you in the dust. Think of this exercise as one way to jump back on as quickly and compassionately as possible.
Here’s a collection of short Ted Talks on Self-Care. Enjoy!