by Ute Lawrence
A lot of us have a problem with the wording of Self-Care. To some, it means an act of self-centeredness, being self- serving, in short being a jerk, always looking out for number one. However, what it really means is that in order to be more helpful and compassionate toward others we need to be strong ourselves. When we are flying, we are told that in case of an emergency we need to put the oxygen mask on ourselves first. Self-care is about looking at every aspect of YOU and making step-by-step improvements until you reach your own goals in the areas that need your attention. Self Care is about making choices on how you work best and living by what you treasure. Self-care is about aligning your value system with your internal and external environments.
Buy yourself a journal to start the journey. Write down how you feel, what your concerns are and express your emotions. Take time to write down the areas you want to improve and then keep track of your progress. Be gentle on yourself. Journaling is highly therapeutic and a great discipline.
Ask yourself every morning, what is the one thing I can do for myself today that will bring me closer to achieving my goals.
Do you need to reduce your stress level? Neurological research shows that people who practice mindful breathing and other meditation techniques tend to heal faster, sleep better and have lower blood pressure. Through meditation, we can tap into resources we didn’t know we had; the practice also helps to bring us into the moment and gets you in touch with your inner highest self. That’s where all your answers lie. The easiest way to get started is to take a yoga class or simply buying a breathing and meditation CD. Dr. Andrew Weil has a wonderful series, available in most bookstores. Too much stress can be harmful, if not deadly. It needs to be eliminated or drastically reduced.
If weight control is an issue, make a commitment to yourself to start walking 30 minutes a day, every day. Start slowly, then speed up as you become more energetic, and eventually get up to accumulating 60 minutes a day, every day. If you would rather swim, run, row etc. just do what you enjoy most. Join a gym, if you need to be around other people. Hire a trainer to get you started. If you are more comfortable working out by yourself dumbbells, a bench and some sturdy running shoes are a good investment. The motivation to honor your commitment to a healthy lifestyle has to come from you and you alone. The benefits of physical exercise are enormous. It helps you manage stress, aids weight loss or weight control, and enhances self-esteem, cognition and a person’s sex life. It improves sleep, posture and increases your immune response – not to mention the fact that your clothes will look so much better on you.
Make use of all the professional advice that’s available. Have annual medical check- ups and ask your doctor to refer you to have all the necessary blood work or tests that are appropriate for your age or circumstance. If you have unresolved issues from the past ask your doctor to refer you to the right therapist.
What about your appearance? Is your hair, color and cut exactly the way you like it? Is your skin the way you want it to be? Are your clothes the way you want them? Jot down in your journal what you would like to change and then find the right people to help you.
Are you constantly exposing yourself to the violence of wars, the devastation and grief caused by natural disasters, terrorism and all the other bad news that’s on television and the newspapers? All these negatives when compounded by personal and professional stresses have a huge effect on our physical and emotional well-being. Human beings are not wired to handle all this. Reduce your exposure to bad news. Take a news fast. Use that time to meditate, read a book get in touch with nature, and tap into your own creativity.
Stan, my husband and I decided we would take a complete break from newspapers and television on a recent trip to Arizona. We could not believe how much positive time we suddenly had on our hands.
Other aspects of self-care include learning to say no, when you feel its right for you. Spend more quality time with yourself and the people you love and most of all ask yourself; what are my real needs and are they being met? Then communicate your needs and have them met once and for all.
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Ute Lawrence is the author of, The Power of Trauma, a book to help those who suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder. It helps you better understand and accept symptoms. Trauma doesn’t have to be a life sentence. This guide will help you take steps to heal and positively transform yourself. See more on her website www.powerofonediscovery.com