Mental Edge: If You Don’t Take Care of Yourself, Who Will?

5 Keys To Improve Self-Care

Is there ever a good time to slow down? Do we appreciate people telling us to relax and not worry so much when there is so much to get done? I know I don’t. It’s like someone telling you to smile when you were perfectly pleased with the face you had on. However, stress creeps in little by little and before you know it, our time is not our own anymore. It is not until we tell ourselves to slow down that we usually listen.

Rather than offering some suggestions for slowing down, I thought it would be more beneficial to focus on what to do, rather than what not to do. Here are my top five ways of improving self-care. You may or may not chose to slow down the pace, but ultimately what matters is our peace of mind along with positive mental and emotional well being.


1. Learn how to get your needs met:
Getting our needs met is relatively easy. Most people close to us will have no problem meeting our needs; that is if we can articulate them. One simple way of getting our needs met is to ask ourselves the simple question: “What do I need right now.” Simple, yes, easy to implement, not so much. It requires a cognitive process that we become aware that we are compensating our behavior in some way to meet a need that is a substitute for the real need. I think we can all relate to the desire for deep, meaningful connection, only to find ourselves in the bottom of a pint of Ben and Jerry’s thinking, where is it? It does require effort, but effort well worth the investment. When our real needs are met, we make less substitutions like overeating, over working, drinking, overspending, gossiping, watching too much TV or spending too much time on the internet, just to name a few of my favorites.

2. Know when to say no: We may think that every opportunity that comes our way is an important magnum opus to take on. Truth be told if we connect with our true values, what is important easily outshines the less important opportunities that end up being energy draining in the long run. Personally, I have a list of my top ten values in mind at all times to make sure my decisions and actions are values based.

3. Scale back rather than eliminate: This is my favorite method as it relates to exercise and proper nutrition. Many people when stress or crisis starts to come toward them at an accelerated pace, end up neglecting exercise because it is not reasonable to do it as often. The same holds true for proper nutrition. Sometimes we need to travel or go to several parties in a row, but that doesn’t mean we need to stop completely. I like to scale workouts back to an amount that I will feel successful doing. Maybe that is two or three times a week, that is fine, it is better than zero times.

4. Be content with close enough: This is a hard one to implement in a society that force feeds us that we need to persist with our goals with passion and not settling for less. But let’s face it, there is a point where we can say we are simply close enough. We don’t need to be so anal retentive and strive for perfection. I remember when I first started college I would squabble about getting a 95% on a paper or a test, and then I realized, it is still an A, close enough. It is not like I need to get to 100%. I can focus my energy somewhere else.

5. Establish your sacred time: I love my sacred time. There is very little that interferes with my one hour weekly sessions with my sports psychologist and my active release specialist. These are two people that I trust to help me stay connected and grounded with who I am, what I am about, and where I am going. It is like a weekly tune up for my mind and body. Find something sacred for you, maybe it is yoga, meditation, a weekly cup of coffee with your favorite friend, or an extra-long nap every Sunday afternoon. Finding sacred time is very important in my opinion. It sends your unconscious mind the message that you are important and worth investing in, whatever way you do that.

I was starting to feel a little of the neurotic holiday energy, so I decided to re-group and gather my resources for self-care. I hope you also find the timing right for you. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. It is my favorite holiday, spending time with people I love eating delicious food. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Until next time,

Nancy

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