Reframing Self-Care

We get well so we can become our best self and help the world. Sarah Wilson, journalist

Let’s reframe self-care—exercise, good sleep, healthy eating, time alone—away from the idea of selfishness. Instead, think of it as a path to being the best at what we want to do in the world. To be a great parent/grandparent, colleague, spouse, friend, activist, we need good self-care. 

An Indian spiritual leader put it this way. It’s about watering the root so you can enjoy the fruit. In other words, keeping our bodies, minds, and souls—our roots—healthy so we can bear fruit and make a difference in our world. 

Affirmation: I practice good self-care.

Coaching questions: How do you regard time spent on yourself, for yourself? What do you need to do to take better care of yourself? What’s one thing you will change this week to become a healthier, happier person? 


Keep Your Lantern Bright

An empty lantern provides no light. Self-care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly. Unknown.

While talking with my granddaughters over Christmas, I was struck by the complexity of issues facing thirteen and fourteen year olds today. Questions around gender identity and sexual orientation, issues with absent parents, bullying, the stress of handling advanced placements. Both granddaughters come from stable homes and have few major issues of their own but they each tend to be the person to whom their friends  express their problems. I cautioned each of them to listen to their intuition, to not take on more than they can handle, and to set boundaries with their friends. (I sprinkled this into the conversation so it didn’t sound like a list of to-dos)

This is good advice for people of all ages. Having been a social worker, I know it’s difficult to walk the line between self-care and being a friend and confidante. At times we must say things like, “I know you’re really hurting right now and I want to listen and help you but I need to step back a bit. Perhaps we can talk about it later.” If you become overwhelmed by the problems of others, you no longer can help them or yourself. 

Affirmation: I can set boundaries.

Coaching questions: If you’re a confidante for your friends and family, how do you maintain your boundaries? Practice saying things, like the quote above, in advance so you’re ready when the time comes if you need to step back a bit from the overwhelm of the problems of others. 


Exchanging Perfection for Good-Enough

More smiling, less worrying. More compassion, less judgment. More blessed, less stressed. More love, less hate. Roy T Bennett, author

Are you striving to replicate the perceived “perfect” Christmas of your childhood for your grand children? Perhaps you want to impress your in-laws or not be judged by them. Maybe good-enough just doesn’t measure up to your personal desire to control the situation and make everything exactly right. 

It’s that time of the month to ask yourself, “What can I let go of?” Do I really have to make Aunt Susie’s rum balls? Who will I disappoint if I don’t? Accept the reality of not pleasing everyone so you can take care of yourself during this busy time. Loosen your attachment to an idealized past and create a good-enough holiday. Yourself will thank you and so will your children or grandchildren when you’re present for them and not a stress-out mess!

Affirmation: I can accept good-enough.

Coaching questions: If you’re stressed out right now, consider what you might delete from your activities, menu, gift-giving. What does a good-enough holiday look like?

Keep Your Bucket Full

An empty lantern provides no light. Self-care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly. Unknown

There’s a new children’s book out entitled Fill a Bucket by Carol McCloud and Katherine Martin. The idea is we all have an invisible bucket which holds good thoughts and feelings about ourselves. When someone does something nice for you, you do something nice for them, or you do something nice for yourself, you fill your bucket. 

I’ve used the bucket analogy as a Life Coach for years. I’d notice my client’s bucket was empty by how they sounded or what they said then I’d ask them, “What will you do this week to fill your bucket?” During the holiday season, it’s easy to deplete our own buckets while working hard to fill the buckets of others. This month, keep tabs on your bucket, notice when it’s getting low and either fill it yourself (a nap, a massage, a walk) or ask someone to help you fill it (please clean up the kitchen, take me to dinner, drop this off at the post office). As we fill the buckets of others, the joy in our buckets goes up but we need to watch the balance. 

Affirmation: I have a full bucket.

Coaching questions: How’s your bucket doing? Is it full or empty? What can you do this week to fill up your bucket? 


I Took a Mental Health Day

Your mental health is more important than the test, the interview, the lunch date, the meeting, the family dinner, and the grocery run. Take care of yourself.

I took a Mental Health Day yesterday. I’d had a busier-than-usual week and I was tired—not just physically but mentally tired as well. I took the advice above—I didn’t go to the gym or the grocery store as planned, I didn’t shower or fix my hair, I didn’t write (except my blog). I drank lots and lots of water and did whatever popped into my head at the time. Oh, and I had fun watching the Nebraska football game. I feel renewed and refreshed today.

Sometimes we just have to say, “Stop the world, I want to get off!” Know that it’s not forever. Trust that you’ll get back into your life. Honor your physical and mental healing process. 

Affirmation: I take care of myself.

Coaching questions: If you need a Mental Health Day, schedule it—now. What’s keeping you from taking one? How will you feel after you give yourself a day? 



The Rubber Band Effect

The oak fought the wind and was broken, the willow bent when it must and survived. Robert Jordan, author, The Fires of Heaven, part of the Wheel of Time series

Resilience is the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; a rubber band. In a person, resiliency is the capacity to adapt well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, or extreme stress. Why are some people more resilient than others and how can one learn to be more resilient?

People who demonstrate resilience generally have these traits in common: Ability to sustain supportive relationships with family and friends, a strong self-image and confidence in their strengths; they accept that change is a part of living and don’t see crisis as insurmountable. Developing your communication and problem solving skills while practicing good self care will also help to enhance your resilience. Build on your past experiences…trust that what you have survived has made you stronger.

Affirmation: I am resilient.

Coaching questions: What can you do now that will make you more resilient when crisis develop? How have you shown resilience in the past? What did that experience teach you?