A leisurely walk in the park.
A bowl full of tasty vegetables.
Sleeping in until ... whenever you want.
Time with a friend hanging out and catching up.
How are you going to take care of yourself today? Don't have time? Think again. What would happen if you never checked the oil and forgot to put in gas in your car? You are the engine of your life, and when you run down, it becomes stop and go for you as well as everyone around you.
While we may see self-care as indulgent or a luxury we cannot afford, the exact opposite is true: taking care of ourselves is essential. Many of the dangers we are at highest risk for—heart attacks and other health conditions, car accidents, depression—are significantly reduced when we get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet, exercise, and simply rest. Putting on our own oxygen mask first ensures we have what it takes to engage fully with our lives. It also means we can be there for our partners, children, parents, friends, work mates, and others when they are in need.
Recently we suggested to someone that they needed to take a break, and they asked us if we thought it would be best if they took it in one, two, or three ... years! This is not the time frame of self-care, which necessarily happens on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. The alternative is an involuntary time out as we are overtaken by illness or some other consequence of letting things go for too long.
Exactly what we require to operate at one hundred percent varies wildly from person to person and over the course of our own lives. Newborns can sleep up to twenty hours a day, whereas their parents are just praying for a good six. Self-care becomes doubly important during times of stress, as we age, and after a period of self-neglect. To keep in touch with these shifting needs, we are obliged to pay attention to what our bodies and deeper selves are telling us and honor what we hear.
In which areas are you running smoothly and in which do you need a tune up?
If this seems like a wonderful but daunting To Do list, the trick is figuring out ways we can build these activities into our life so they happen by default, with minimum effort. You want to keep it simple and balance routines with some novelty so it's easy and fun. Get creative and find ways to stack functions by combining various activities which support one another. For example:
Remember, this is not a drill. It's time to put on your oxygen mask now!
On a scale of 1 (lousy) to 10 (you rock!) rate the quality of your personal self-care in the following areas:
Which of these seem like the easiest or the most important to improve?
Get together with a friend and ask for their support in helping you to make changes in your approach to self-care. Start with just one thing. Create a one week experiment in which your try out something to improve. Evaluate it after one week. What worked, what didn't? Refine your plan and seek out the resources you need to put it into action for another week. Continue for a month and see how things improve.
Beth and Eric
This monthly slow essay is from Beth Meredith & Eric Storm of Create The Good Life.
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