Step 76 - Self Care.  “[G]rowing into your future with health and grace and beauty doesn’t have to take all your time. It rather requires a dedication to caring for yourself as if you were rare and precious, which you are, and regarding all life around you as equally so, which it is. (267-268)” Victoria Moran, Younger by the Day: 365 Ways to Rejuvenate Your Body and Revitalize Your Spirit

Whether you are a full time worker, a part time worker, retired or a stay at home mum or dad, taking time for self care that puts you first is very important.  For sure, eating, sleeping, rest and physical exercise are part of self care but taking time to do something that is just for you is part of balance and the way to effectively maintain good health and happiness in your life.

This has been an extremely busy week at work, supporting familiies who are facing some very challenging and heartbreaking circumstances caused by mental health, poverty, domestic abuse and violence.  In order to be able to continue to effectively support families professionally as well as take care of my own family, self care is essential.

As Victoria Moran writes, self care takes practice and dedication. Oftentimes we have the thought that to care for ourselves above others is selfish and so we put our own needs on the back burner in order to serve others.  I am not being sexist when I say that women are most guilty of this, but in my experience it is true.

This quote by Brenda Ueland summarizes the point well:

“In fact that is why the lives of most women are so vaguely unsatisfactory. They are always doing secondary and menial things (that do not require all their gifts and ability)for others and never antyhing for themselves. Society and husbands praise them for it (when they get too miserable or have nervous breakdowns) though always a little perplexedly and half-heartedly and just to be consoling. The poor wives are reminded that that is just why wives are so splendid--because they are so unselfish and self-sacrificing and that is the wonderful thing about them! But inwardly women know that something is wrong. They sense that if you are always doing something for others, like a servant or nurse, and never anything for yourself, you cannot do others any good. You make them physically more comfortable. But you cannot affect them spiritually in any way at all. For to teach, encourage, cheer up, console, amuse, stimulate or advise a husband or children or friends, you have to be something yourself. [...]"If you would shut your door against the children for an hour a day and say; 'Mother is working on her fice-act tragedy in blank verse!' you would be surprised how they would respect you. They would probably all become playwrights.”
Brenda Ueland

About a year ago I attended a writing workshop at Vancouver Island Scool of Art www.vancouverislandschoolart.com .  The writer, a male stated that to be a successful writer it was important to be selfish, one had to close the door and write.  He is maried and his wife takes care of him and their child.  I am single mother, so I am "i"t when it comes to taking care of people and  earning money for rent, groceries, hydro etc. etc.

However, I have managed to adapt his advice and accommodate writing into my everyday life which, as I have stated before, has led to increased health and vitality.  I did this by trading how I spent my former "self-care" time and not vegging in front of the TV, being more disciplined about boundaries around work and other professional commitments and diarising writing time.  I also listen to my body more and when it tells me that I need to rest/take a walk/take a bath/have a glass of wine or coffee with a friend/meditate I do it.  I don't ignore it.  I make time and  I do at least one of those ativities every day.  Interestingly the more time I give myself, the more time I appear to have.

When I - or anyone - does not listen to their personal needs and act on them resentments fester and grow, relationships suffer and weight, mental health, physical health and potential relapse back into addiction are the likely consequences.  Take care of yourself - YOU are worth it.

Step 76 Exercise.

Review the week to come.  How balanced is your life?  When do you make time for self care?  What does self care look like to you and how can you incorporate it into your schedule.  What is your mind/body/spirit asking you to do?

Some self care activities - suggestions for things you can do that are mostly free and that will incorporate better overall health:  

Physical:  
Dancing/running/walking/martial arts/climbing/skipping/punching a pillow or a bag/drumming or playing another instrument/swimming

Emotional/Spiritual: 
Singing/smiling/meditating/walking/praying/crying/breathing/taking a bath/reading a book/writing/journaling/painting/drawing

Social Needs:
Meeting a friend for coffee or appy's/Going to see a movie or a show/taking a workshop/visiting your favourite store for window shopping or a small treat if you can afford it.

Don't forget to record your successes and challenges - here are mine:

Successes

Taking "me time" to rest in a bubbly bath after very hard days at work and getting lost in a book (Friday Nights by Joanna Trollope http://lizam1.hubpages.com/hub/Friday-Night-by-Joanna-Trollope)

Managing not to eat "junk food" and to maintain weight loss despite the stress of this week

Creating a yummy breakfast shake - almond milk, banana, strawberries, spoon of peanut butter and some flax seeds.

Not pushing myself into activities on days when my head was too full and giving myself permission to read/relax.

On-line art therapy sessions with new clients via skype.  For more information visit:  http://lizam1.hubpages.com/hub/Art-Therapy-On-Line or contact me at liza.miles1@gmail.com

Challenges

Money matters and savings for the UK

Housing and expenses

Understanding internet whys and wherefores

Accepting past mistakes and letting go of self-blame


Be well and treat yourself kindly




 
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