caregiving · Purpose · Self-care

Self care is not a cycle…

It is easy to lose track of time when your first priorities are ingrained in service. While everyone knows that self-care is a priority (don your oxygen mask first, blah, blah) and that it isn’t all bubble baths and spa time, it is difficult to plan how we manage our own self-care as a routine, a ritual if you may. As women, we are genetically engineered to put everyone else’s needs before our own, so learning self-care is a challenge. As I navigate peri-menopause, the chronic condition of depression and just anti-aging in general, the search to intuitively know how to care for myself through all of these variables varies daily. Therefore, Self-care is a daily effort. We do not categorize this as a basic need, but oh, it is. Sure we feel better once we have visited the spa, but then, we get distracted, get tipsy, don’t give ourselves time to exercise or indulge in food that does not provide the enduring energy. The result is a cycle of neglect then filling up versus a daily priority, such as breathing. I needed a formula. Something sure fire that would hold me accountable. So, as most of us work with lists, to-dos, goals and status reports, I thought, why shouldn’t this approach be any different? Why couldn’t we include the time slotted appointments in our calendars that are so desperately needed to clarify, gratify and fill up our energy reserves? Today I offer a simple formula, a mnemonic, to demystify and address the self-care regimen, as a daily habit, a true, lasting routine. Disclaimer: While I am a nurse, I am not a physician, and have no knowledge of your medical history or health background. If you are struggling to care of your daily needs, seek professional attention. 

S–Strategize. Every plan needs a good strategy sesh. We compile patient plans, business plans and family activity calendars. What is your strategy to meet your needs for the day? When will you exercise? What foods do you need a little more of today, or a little less? Are you shaving today? What bills need paid? What repairs need to be made (I’m not just talking home). Is a visit to your physician necessary? What about a check-in with a therapist? By strategizing one thing daily, not only is this goal achievable, but it feels good to accomplish that one thing, versus fail at many. Maybe you are a low-hanging fruit person, wipe out several little things with minimal effort, or maybe you want to tackle that one big item that you know will bring about so many positive changes by finally addressing it (i.e. sobriety, finances, etc). I have included some pictures below for ideas. 

E–Energy. The body needs to move energy to deal (i.e. cope). Moving energy, creates space. Having space, creates the ability to deal. Think about it…how much more productive are we when we move? Stand-up desks, getting outside for breaks…..its true! Whether it’s yoga, running, walking or just moving out of your house into some fresh air, when we move, our cells automatically re-organize. That shift leads to more clarity. The more clarity you have, the more productive you are. The more productive you are, the more you are able to continually fill your cup. 

L–Leverage. As a caregiver, you are in constant care giving mode. Have you ever taken anyone up on the offer, “Let me know if you need anything”–most likely not. Figure out who your greatest fans are and leverage their ability and willingness to give you what you aren’t able to give yourself–COMPASSION. Again, it is about creating cycles. Give compassion, receive compassion.  Asking for help is counterintuitive to a caregiver. It will provide tremendous guilt at first, but once you ask, you will see that it will reward you, the person you have entrusted to be vulnerable to and finally, all those around you. This leverage is self-care regimen fuel. Use it wisely and often. 

F–Feel. Check-ins with your head and body are necessary. Is your strategy working? Have you given it enough time? Should you be saying NO to something instead of saying YES? Feeling puts into place feedback loops necessary for creating the self-care routine.  Once you begin to use this tool, your gut will produce feedback rapidly. Asking for help will become easier. Saying NO will become easier. Moving energy will be in demand and your plan to put yourself first will become the priority because you will witness all that it does so you can be a good human and continue to serve, give, care. 

The journey of SELF-care is a process. The magic of this process is being able to truly learn to serve your biggest fan…..YOURSELF.

I would love to hear from you! Reach out with questions, feedback or any topic you would like to hear about next.

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