For many of us self-care is synonymous with things like trips to the spa or once a year vacation and is permissioned perhaps as only an intermittent break from the stress of our everyday lives. But I believe that a habit of true self-care is essential to how we stay present in our lives, how we resource ourselves to make better decisions and create the sense of agency necessary to make changes. It is also the well from which we draw our energy to give and care for others. But how many of us are running on empty all the time between work and home life? How often is taking care of yourself the thing that comes last or the first thing to go when your schedule goes sideways?
I had a conversation with a dear friend recently who was looking to make big changes in his life. We talked a lot about what the block to those bigger changes were and during the course of our discussion he revealed how little of himself was present in his everyday life; always working, doing, taking care of others. How could my friend hope to make these big changes for himself when he wasn’t creating a habit of taking care of himself every day? Here is the advice I gave to my friend:
Prioritize Rest: We are a society that disdains rest and glorifies “doing.” But rest – the good old-fashioned close your eyes kind -is essential not only to the body’s repair but to the repair of the emotional and psychic toll that the stress of everyday life takes on all of us. Rest is where the energy to create and change is built. So my advice was – to find a soft place to land every day if even for 10 minutes. Close eyes. Slow your breath. Let your mind wander.
Learn to Say No: How many of us push ourselves to do things when we’re tapped out, or say “yes” to something that really should just be a no. I heard a great interview of producer Shonda Rhimes in which she revealed that she cultivated a perfect “no,” by saying “No, I’m not able to.” Period. Full-stop. Try hers or come up with your own- but cultivate more “no’s” in order to say “yes” to yourself more.
Don’t Take On More Than You’re Resourced For: This is a corollary of “no,” but the obvious truth is that when you’re on empty- it’s a full-stop until you’ve re-filled the tank. This could mean more rest, more play, more joy, more connection. Whatever it is that re-fuels you.
Establish Your VIP Rope: You know those exclusive clubs where there is a bouncer and vip rope that only the select people can get behind- well access to you should look like that too. Figure out who the energy vampires are and who are the people that restore and re-fuel you and establish the rules around VIP access.
Stay With Your Joy: Ever go on a weekend trip with a friend and have so much fun you wonder why you don’t do “that” more often? Find ways to bring whatever “that” is into your everyday life. Its really easy to lose the thread of your own happiness in a routine that has so little of YOU in it. So find a way to say connected to yourself by staying connected to the things you love to do. (The good news is that the more you say no to what isn’t your joy the more you can say yes to what is).
Ready to take better care of yourself? For more information about family law issues contact Georgia Fraser, Esq. of Fraser Family Law Office, LLC at 609-223-2099.