Put Yourself First, at least for a while.
Life can suck sometimes.
It’s a given that pain and suffering will come to all of us.
Emotions can ride the roller coaster of uncertainty — all the time.
Anger. Grief. Fear. Numbness. The cycle can take a day or a minute.
When hard times hit, when life takes a 180-degree turn, we need to take care of ourselves.
If you don’t, who will? If your well is dry, you can’t be there for my children, my friends, or my extended family. The old ‘put your mask on first’ analogy rings true.
What does self-care mean? How can I, and you, incorporate more of it into our daily lives?
Self-care is taking care of your body, mind and spirit during times of stress. It is finding out what you need and taking steps to make sure your needs are met.
Taking care of yourself is vital to reacting to life with resilience and strength.
Put yourself at the top of your to-do list every single day and the rest will fall into place. -Unknown
There are many things that can be classified as self-care. We all have different needs and so our self-care will look different from others.
There are some basics that we all need.
- Make sure you are getting enough sleep. This can be hard when your mind is racing, but sleep is the revitalizing force in life. If life is hard and you are feeling sorrow or anger, try sleeping more. NAP!
- Eat healthy foods. The temptation will be there to grab that bucket of ice cream or bag of chips and dig in, but you will feel better and stronger when you fuel your body properly. To deal with the stress hormone cortisol you must nourish your body with whole foods and not processed food.
- Exercise every day. Go outside for a walk. I wrote about the benefits of walking before, and it’s wonderful for stress reduction.
- Learn some physical calming techniques. An effective technique for self-calming is diaphragmatic breathing which is breath focused awareness and training.
Begin by taking deep breaths into your abdomen area — feel your abdomen rising and falling, not your chest. Relax as much a possible. Avoid using your shoulders and ribcage.
Do this often throughout the day and whenever you feel an increase in anxiety, stress, grief or anger. This can be done as part of a meditation practice (an excellent self-care practice) or devote a minute to breath awareness. Mindful breathing helps to lessen the impact of the stress response.
Try yoga. A powerful exercise that also works on healing your mind.
5. Talk to your friends and social group. Do not isolate yourself. Friends will make you feel connection, which we all need. Especially if facing a crisis such as a loss of a relationship. I have needed more support from my friends and family as I face this challenge, and thankfully, they have responded with love and support.
6. Pamper yourself. Get a massage. Enrol in a paint night with some friends. Have people over for a rousing game of Catan!
7. Journal. This can help you process your feelings. Denying your feelings or trying to stuff down emotions will just prolong the healing process.
8. Get some therapy. You will live with yourself all your life. Deal with your issues now. Even if it was totally the other person’s fault, and you are probably kidding yourself, you have insecurities or baggage that you need to take out and examine.
No matter where you go, there you are. — Confucius
9. Find something to laugh at every day. The idea that laughter is the best medicine is true. Laughter releases endorphins which are the body’s natural painkillers. Laughter can lighten the load, even if only momentarily.
Watch a funny movie or TV show. Read a funny book. I love Calvin and Hobbes. The BEST cartoon!
10. Have a warm bath. Listen to music you love. Dance.
Do things you love.
Find out what your needs are and meet them. Ask for help.
Taking care of yourself is important all the time, and especially during hard times.
Self-care doesn’t have to cost you money. Allocate time for yourself daily. Have more compassion for yourself when you feel that life is sucking you dry.
If you are going through a hard time, commit to giving yourself self-care time daily.
You are worth it.