**I was contacted by Brad Krause of selfcaring.info about sharing a piece on self-care, which you know I am ALL ABOUT. Brad quit his corporate job to focus on helping people help themselves. Check out his article below on his favorite self-care tips.**
There’s a special person in your life, that probably isn’t getting enough attention. She goes without sleep to sit up with a sick baby. She makes cakes for the school bake sale and casseroles for the church potluck. She sacrifices vacations to take extra hours at work, or gives up career advancement to be the in-house caregiver for children, or elderly parents. She toils thanklessly, quietly, without reward, day in and day out. That person is yourself, and it’s long past time you took a moment out of your busy day, to thank her.
Our industrious American work ethic has a downside. We simply aren’t that great at making time for ourselves. The CDC reports that 16 percent of women feel exhausted by their daily responsibilities. The American Psychological Association states that 35 percent of American men and women feel stressed during the workday. Highly educated people saw their leisure time decrease by 1.2 hours per week between 1985 and 2007. Less educated people saw their work hours increase by 2.5 hours per week during the same period. Simply put, we’re all working harder and spending less time on the things we do for fun.
Why Self-Care is Vital:
The importance of self-care is often overlooked, and undervalued, but it can make all the difference in the world when it comes to our health and happiness. Think about the last time you were on a plane. The flight attendant told you that, in the event of an emergency, you should put on your own oxygen mask before you try to help anyone else with theirs. It’s harder to help others, when you need help yourself. Self care is not selfish, it is proactive. You have to start by looking after yourself. People who practice self care are healthier and more productive. They have more energy, and higher levels of self esteem.
How to Get Started:
Start small. Think of ways to make yourself stronger and healthier, inside and outside. Feed yourself better, and make sure you’re getting enough rest. Do something that makes you happy: read a book, take a long, hot, bath with lots of bubbles. Make a date with a friend to do something fun and frivolous. Set aside a certain amount of time each day to exercise, or meditate. As you get used to being good to yourself, you can work up to bigger projects. Take a class in something you’ve always been interested in, or make a trip to some far off place you’ve always wanted to go.
Beware of Pitfalls:
Sometimes, we confuse self-care and self-harm. When we’re overworked or stressed, and too busy to take good care of ourselves, we say, “I deserve this.” Then we hit the drive through, or reach for the cookie jar. We may binge watch mindless television with a bottle of bourbon, or worse substances. These are crutches that enable us to perpetuate unhealthy behavior. If the cumulative effect of your rewards system is detrimental to your physical or mental well-being, it’s self-harm, not self-care. Drug and alcohol abuse doesn’t happen overnight. It sneaks up on you slowly, over weeks and months. You may not even realize it when your recreational use, becomes abuse. Be mindful of the effects of everything you put into your body. After all, it’s got to last you for the rest of your life. Be good to it, so it can be good to you for years to come.
Learn to Say No:
The biggest reason people get overwhelmed is overcommitment. Learn to recognize your limits. (Trust me, we all have them.) Don’t take on more than you can manage. People will understand if you can’t do everything they want you to. We often confuse invitations with requests. Not everyone who is asking for your company is asking for your beef brisket and your hummingbird cake. It is okay to show up empty handed from time to time. It’s even okay to say you’re busy this week. You’re not that special, and the party will go on just fine without you. Remember, whatever stress you’re dealing with? Your friends and family are dealing with the same sorts of things. They get busy, too, and they won’t stop loving you because you missed the church social or monthly movie night.
Life is what happens while we were all busy making other plans. Build a blanket fort with your kids and see a show with your spouse. Don’t save the good china for a special occasion, use it right now. Have breakfast in the dining room, and put out your grandmother’s embroidered tablecloth. Wear your Sunday best on Tuesday. Stop saving the good stuff for the future and do it now. Tomorrow is not guaranteed and you may never have another chance.