Women take care of other people every day. So self-care is essential to maintaining our energy and health. Do you practice self-care daily to balance the automatic giving nature in many of you?
Self-care is not selfish or self-indulgent. We need to feel as though we have something to give others, and this comes from nurturing ourselves. If we take care of our own needs first, then we can give from a place of surplus or resourcefulness. When we nurture others from a place of fullness we feel energized and renewed instead of depleted and spent.
The following questions stimulate ways of practicing self-care that would fit your needs, motivations and unique ways of feeling good.
1. What activities do you find relaxing and enjoyable? Do two of these that would bring pleasure to your life.
• keeping a journal
• riding a bike
• having a bath, hot tub, steam, sauna
• spending time in nature
• playing a musical instrument or singing
• playing with animals or young children
• taking a walk
• going for a jog
• working in your yard or garden
• taking a nap
• practicing a martial art
• enjoying an aerobic sport
• enjoying a craft or hobby
• camping or hiking
• enjoying a snow or water sport
• practicing yoga
• getting or giving a massage
• reading for pleasure
• attending theatre, concerts, performances
• practicing dance or gymnastics
2. Who can you be yourself with and share your feelings with? Plan to spend some time with these people.
3. What or who makes you laugh? Plan to do some of these activities or be with these people.
4. What activities bring you into the present moment? Take some time to be in the here and now. (Hint: When we look closely at a flower, listen to music, take a warm shower we use our senses which helps bring us into the present moment.)
5. What activities would you enjoy doing for others? Plan to help someone else as it helps us to help ourselves and gets us out of the confines of our own mind or thinking.
6. How would your ideal self handle a difficult task you need to do? This mental rehearsal or visualization can set you up for success in stressful circumstances.
7. When you make a mistake how could you look at it differently? What can you learn from this mistake that will help you in your future? Note the new approaches you would like to take next time.
8. What areas of your life could you ask others for help with? Who could you ask favours of? Who could you request help from? Ask two people to help you with life or work projects.
9. What do you need, expect and feel right now? Who needs to know this about you? Express this to people who you want and need to share this with.
10. What do you need to say no to? Who do you need to set boundaries with? Say no or set boundaries with people in your work or life.
11. What positive affirmations or intentions could you practice today that would help you?
Examples of affirmations:
• I support myself during adverse circumstances.
• I have pride in my past performance and a positive expectation of the future.
Examples of intentions:
• I am a leader in situations.
• I draw from resources around and within me.
12. How can I reframe circumstances that seem to be blocking or limiting me? We often argue with others in adverse circumstances and neglect to argue with ourselves when our self-talk is not supportive. Spending 30 minutes to reframe and rethink a negative thought pattern is time very well spent.
13. What would be an adventure for you? Take some time and do it. Stretching our risk muscles helps bring new life and energy into our world.
14. How could you give yourself some much-needed time out? Examples:
• Hide under the covers (you may want to screen calls, watch TV, eat some junk food, banish guilt, lights scented candles, or read a novel)
• Grant yourself a spa day in your own home (do whatever you like and take as much time as you would like to luxuriate in things you enjoy doing in your own home)
15. How could you be more childlike? Practice some childlike pastimes to give yourself new energy and motivation. Examples are:
• walking in the rain
• blowing bubbles
• smelling flowers,
• building sand castles
• watching the moon and stars come out
• saying hello to everyone
• going barefoot
• singing in the shower
• having a merry heart
• reading children's books
• watching children's movies
• acting silly
• getting new sneakers
• holding hands
• flying kites
• looking at the sky
• drawing and painting
• staying innocent
• saying no
• saying yes
• asking lots of questions
• feeling happy
• feeling mad
• making faces in the mirror
• making new rules
• playing with toys
• having pillow fights
• learning new stuff
• getting excited about everything
• being a clown
• finding how things work
• making up new languages
• telling stories
• making friends with other kids on the block
• anything else that brings more happiness, relaxation, self-esteem, courage, balance, spontaneity or life energy to you.
Life coach Mary-Ann Owens is one of the experts helping former Olympic luge athlete Kathy Salmon Farstad regain control over her work, personal and physical life through healthier living. She is the founding president of the Calgary chapter of the International Coach Federation and a coaching skills instructor at the University of Calgary. Owens works with business leaders as well as individuals who want to make changes in their professional lives. She has taught stress management as both a career counnsellor and a coach. Owens has an MBA in human-resources management, and her specialty is in personal development and management.