The first time someone asked about my self care program, I thought, “Self what?” The caring conversation that followed did push me to agree about the importance of self care and consider a plan of action. Whenever someone suggests changing or adding anything to my life, my first thought is generally, “Oh no, just one more thing I don’t have time for.” With a bit of pondering, I did create this list of five self care practices that I value and try to slide into my schedule regularly. Maybe this is the push that might help you.
Breathing fully, filling and emptying your lungs completely is my #1 way to care for myself. Aside from the obvious “oxygen keeps me alive” benefit there’s much more. Your body has a built in chill-out system called the parasympathetic nervous system. Its partner, the sympathetic nervous system ‘s fight-or-flight talents get a lot more press. However, the parasympathetic nervous system is the power house when it comes to “rest and digest” or “feed and breed,” all things that are signs of destressing. If you do nothing else for you during a hectic day, take a minute, that’s 60 full seconds and breathe. Really breathe and you’ll feel even more alive.
Of course, most of us have to walk in the course of our days. You can increase the self care value of your walking two ways. First, walk a bit more. You could cruise for the super close parking spot at the store but save that for those not as into self care as you. Park far and take a stroll. It might add a few minutes to the task but is worth it. The second way is mindfulness while walking. See #3 for details.
Without going all eastern meditation practicer on you, mindfulness means paying attention to this moment. People often miss the beauty of this moment which is, right now you’re likely okay. In meditation classes, I remind people that as we sit in class that they are sheltered, warm, hopefully fed and clothed. At this moment they are okay so allow the mind to rest in the okay-ed-ness of this moment and try not to worry about moments past or coming up. There’s nothing you can really do with them anyway so relax and enjoy the now.
4. Find your sense of humor
I know I’m not the only one who has those “WTF was I thinking” moments. When you find you have screwed up something or been less than graceful in public, just give yourself a break and try to laugh it off. Generally the world won’t end because you tripped over nothing and spilled your coffee. Just be grateful you didn’t spill the coffee on your boss. And if said coffee did land on the boss, it’s much easier to accept an apology from someone who is gently caring and cleaning than someone who stomps off muttering profanities to themselves. Give yourself a break… often if needed.
5. Be the love
No, I’m not going to ask you to stand in front of the mirror muttering “I love you’s” to yourself. I am asking you to remember that no one on the planet knows just how you want to be loved AND no one is around you every moment to provide you love. Too often we go through our days expecting to be appreciated, valued and honored and guess what… it doesn’t happen. So step up and just be the love you need. You can do this by starting with steps 1-4 above. You can also make a bit of space in your life for this love that comes from within. Your ability to love you, this very unique and interesting person that you are, is there with you every moment. This self love muscle also really knows when you need alone time or a chat with a friend. If you need that friend, call that friend and don’t sit waiting for someone to realize you need companionship. Be the love to yourself and you’ll be surprised how much more love you have for the rest of the world.