SELF-CARE IS NOT ALWAYS EASY
Real life being what it is, daily or even weekly balance isn’t always possible. If we think in terms of cycles—weeks, months, even years—there are times when we may need to put more of our energy into our work, caring for our families, or dealing with our own health issues. But do we go back and pick up the balancing pieces for ourselves again? What are the signs to notice when we are needing more self-care?
Self-care is about how we treat ourselves minute-by-minute and day-by-day. But it is really about how we give ourselves the message that we are lovable and beautiful. And, it is how we give ourselves nourishment, exercise, relaxation and rest so that we feel whole and happy.
Here’s 6 questions to consider today:
1) Are you trying to keep too many balls in the air at once?
2) What does your body need?
3) How do you handle anger?
4) What is draining you right now?
5) What do you long for?
6) What are you holding yourself back from?
As you ponder these questions, notice where in your body you feel discomfort. Take a few deep breaths and just pay attention to which of the above areas you might want to focus on first.
Here’s the basic components of a Self-Care Plan:
Physical Fitness – Healthy Immunity
Time Management – Planning and Assertiveness
Relaxation & Fun
Mindfulness – getting connected to the present moment
Being Kind to yourself
See how you might draft your own Self-Care Plan right now that would help you to cover the areas you are missing — where you feel it most in your body.
SOMETIMES WE HAVE TO CHANGE OUR ATTITUDE
Are you kind and loving to yourself or critical and mean? We have many voices inside ourselves and sometimes it’s easiest to listen to the voice that is giving us marching orders rather than a voice offering a moment to reflect on our goodness. And, our brains are designed to focus on the problems or challenges in our life automatically.
In truth, we have to teach ourselves how to listen to the nurturing voice and we often need to develop a nurturing voice to begin with. This self-compassionate voice is there in all of us but we just need to learn how to befriend it and bring it forward. This is the process of learning self-compassion. One of the self-compassionate behaviors that we can offer to ourselves is called self-care, and when we do this we begin to change this self-critical and competitive pattern.
In neuroscience, the pattern of a conditioned habitual reaction is called “experience-dependent neuroplasticity.” This means we can create “A Depression Loop” caused by negative thoughts attached to challenging feelings. (Goldstein, 2015) When we are critical and judgmental of ourselves, we are actually creating a negative cycle that takes us down, rather than helping us move forward in a positive way. That’s why self-compassion and mindfulness practices help us learn how to change the brain through practice. Daniel Siegel’s research with mindfulness and it’s effects on the brain show that by practicing regularly with compassionate and careful “self-attunement” we change our brains so that we resonate towards good will and happiness instead of negativity and danger. (The Mindful Brain, 2007).
Kristin Neff, Ph.D, in her book, Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind, shares the many benefits of learning to be kind and accepting of yourself that she has developed in her research. I teach her work in my Mindful Self-Compassion Groups and coaching programs because this way of treating ourselves does bring us out of depression and negative patterns we’ve been stuck in our entire lives, to a new attitude about our lives of resilience, abundance and goodness.
Mindfulness, one of the key components of Self-Compassion training, allows us to actually accept and love ourselves just as we are…right now!! To celebrate our wounds, our vulnerabilities and our gifts all at the same time as who we have become! This is how we actually find our true “wholeness” and experience ourselves more completely and authentically as we are. Join me for our next opportunity to learn these tools: