As we celebrate our love for each other, our families, our gal pals, please let’s take a moment for self-care. It is important for your health to participate in practices which support your physical and mental well-being.
We all need replenishment, especially women, who often fall into the role of caretaker naturally. Nothing wrong with that, except when you are taking care of children, grandchildren, sick spouses, and aging parents all at the same time.
And we all know the added stress that the pandemic has put on us in our jobs, working from home and teaching the kids, maybe dealing with unemployment at a time in our lives when it is hard to retrain or be considered hirable.
Yes, there are many things that keep us from even thinking about ourselves, let alone do something about it. But we must. You can’t draw water from an empty well.
Now you are probably going to say, “But, Michelle, I really don’t know how to do yoga or have the time to just sit there and meditate”. And I am going to reply, “That may not be the right activity for you. Tell me, what do you enjoy?”
You see, everyone has a different restorative process, and we have to recognize and honor that. There is no one size fits all when it comes to replenishment of our energy, creativity, and spark.
If you have ever gone on vacation with a friend, you may have found that your idea of relaxing is walking around a new city, taking in the sights and museums, while your buddy just wants to sit in a café, people-watching. And, as long as you two recognize this difference, you both come back from the vacay, rested and refreshed.
But sometimes, you have been in the caretaker role for so long, you have no idea what you need to get your juices flowing again. Let’s take an inventory of your most immediate needs and explore the “wish list” OK?
Are you getting enough sleep? Can’t say enough about this restorative mode. Try to get 7-9 hours of quality sleep regularly.
How about your eating habits? Sure, eating nutrient-dense whole foods is so much better for you than empty calories. But equally important is how and when you are eating. For example, if you are gorging because you haven’t eaten in hours, you are not taken the time to chew or enjoy your food. Or, if you are flaked out on the couch in front of the TV with your dinner, you can get caught up in equally mindless eating. Neither is good and will not nourish your body, or your soul.
And we are all admonished to exercise more. But if we feel like it is a chore, we resent having to do it. Two wise options: 1) Find a buddy to work out with and 2) Find something you like to do. If you don’t like to run, then don’t. But maybe you like to dance, so cut loose.
Physically, these are the big 3: Sleep, nutrition, and exercise.
Now, what about mental challenges? How are you dealing with the stress in your life? Do you have outlets to let off steam? Are you good with setting boundaries and saying “no”? Are you good at communicating your own needs?
Are you learning new things? Reading regularly? Developing new cognitive skills that enhance your concentration?
Reducing stressors, stretching your learning capacity, getting counseling when you need it, and taking time to play will rejuvenate you mentally and increase your alertness and attention.
Sometimes we are so busy anticipating others needs that we often lose sight of our own and become disconnected with our own feelings. A helpful way to reconnect with our own desires and well-being is to sit quietly and try to tap into them. It might be hard at first, but journaling can help with this. Just write it down and see where it goes.
And so can just confiding in a good friend. If you are feeling lonely or isolated, reach out to someone today. Sometimes calling someone we haven’t spoken to in a while may be just the connection we need.
And yet, there are times when just being around people can be irritating, or stressful. Those times, plan for some “me time” and give yourself permission to be alone.
As you can see from these examples, self-care varies from person to person, and is as individual as you are. The Oxford Dictionary defines self-care as “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one's own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress”.
No matter what works for you, the most important aspects are that you commit to figuring out what you need to fill you up, schedule your own needs into your planning, to take care of yourself, especially under stress, and keep adjusting as your needs change.
And if you need help with putting together a plan, reach out.