Memorial Day weekend was coming up and I had three days off to decide what to do with. Because I am balancing a job and my counseling practice, a family, and my own self care needs, normally this is time to get "a bunch of stuff done." I consider myself a type A personality... you know busy, driven, never done. In fact, I am sure most people that I talk to whether type A, B or Z can relate to being busy.
What I occasionally forget is that my energy tank gets dry and that there is just nothing left if I don't replenish. Raised with a mid-west work ethic and also a core belief that "what I do is how I matter;" I have to practice what I preach. It makes sense that I have been really focused on self-care and self-compassion with my clients and in talks and workshops this half of the year. We often teach what we most need to hear.
So I rented a movie that only I wanted to see, camped out in the bedroom in my jammies, and took a nap on Saturday. Sunday, I read what I felt like (not what is sitting there waiting for me to read), took a walk with my husband and had a great dinner with my daughter. Monday was time at the ranch with my daughter watching her ride, connecting with the horses, and sitting in nature.
I share this with you to help you think of some ideas of self-care. If our mental and spiritual well is not full, we don't have anything to give anyone else.
So here are some ideas:
1. Go out in nature: Go somewhere you can connect with the vastness, the beauty, the wonderful creation of God's earth. What do you see in the clouds? Can you connect with the rhythm of the universe? Try to use all of your senses.
2. Ask for help: Many times you try to do it all. You say to yourself, "it will get done right if I just do it" or "I don't want to be a burden." What can you let go to lighten your load? Who do you need to ask for help?
3. Listen to your heart: We live in a world of instant experts. They speak on talk shows, write magazines and lead us to believe that they have the answers and we need fixing. What is your heart saying to you? It's OK to bounce ideas off others and get advice, but take what you hear and filter it through your heart. Peace comes from knowing yourself and trusting yourself to make decisions that serve your life.
4. Quiet your mind: When considering self-care many times our mind begins to chatter. "I have stuff to do, how's this going to help?" "I've been gone all week, I should spend time... " and that's just considering self-care. Does your mind race all the time with should's and must's? Practice meditating. I know, many of you resist, and I did for a long time. It is the one practice that makes a big difference in quieting your mind.
5. Practice Gratitude: This can be done on a daily basis internally, out loud, or in written form. Make it a habit to list 5 things you are grateful for each day. For me, it works best if I believe it. If I am struggling with my job and I say, "I'm grateful for my job" a part of me wants to argue with that. Instead, I will say, "I am grateful for the roof over my head and the car that I am able to drive." Those are the byproducts of my job and can affect my attitude about it.
It's not selfish to take care of yourself. I remember this when my critic tries to call me selfish as I watch a movie by myself in the bedroom (I am an introvert and rejuvenate when I have time to myself). What do you need to remind yourself when you take time to feel peace and joy, create and play, rejuvenate and refresh?
Nancy Ryan, LMFT specializes in working with individuals and couples who want deep, satisfying relationships with themselves and their partners. She works with couples who are ready to stop the destructive patterns and want to build the love, friendship and romance back into their partnership.