Monday, January 5, 2015

Quick and Dirty - Five Strategies for Self-Care

The holidays are over, the kids are back in school. It's the best time ever to give yourself a little love and attention. But how often have you said: “I don’t have time for that”?  In all likelihood, it was about something good you could do for yourself.
Is self-care a luxury, or is it survival? So many of us put our own needs on the back burner, whether we are talking about a "stay at home" or working mom, or working outside of the home. It is not uncommon. In fact, a dear friend (who is a "helping professional") told me recently that in her experience, some practitioners in "helping" fields bristle at the term "self-care" - believing that they don't have time to care for themselves, being too busy to put themselves on their own calendar. However, helping professionals and caregivers of all walks need it as much, if not more, than those for whom we are charged to care. Otherwise, there is a risk physical and emotional fatigue, and in the worst case, full burnout, if we don’t find some time to replenish, and restore depleted energy.

Here are five quick and dirty strategies for self-care, whether you are a helping professional or a stay at home mom or dad.

1. Start with yourself. Enjoy 5 minutes of silence, prayer, meditation - lock yourself in the bathroom if you have to. Add time to your sleep, in small increments. Be sure to give yourself time to wind down, taking a break from electronics an hour before lights out. Ask a friend to meet for coffee or a walk. Put on your headphones and sing your head off while you work (if you’re alone, or course!);

2. Put yourself on the calendar. Schedule a massage or do a home spa - burn some incense or a candle, listen to your favorite music, give yourself a hand/foot massage with scented lotion - treat your senses;

3. Set priorities. Keep a to-do list on your daily calendar and know that not everything will get done (and know that that’s okay);

4. Set your boundaries. Be realistic about what you take on, and what you give away. Too many clients report giving up too much of their time and energy when they know, for whatever reasons, that they shouldn’t. And so often, we don’t work to replenish we put out. Soon, we’ll have no more to give, if the tank runs dry. Working on setting boundaries will ultimately keep you from giving away more than you have to give;

5. Start early, little and often. Walk for ten minutes, take the stairs instead of the elevator/escalator, have an impromptu dance party (even if you're alone!). Small steps throughout each day add up and will serve you better in the long run than taking a long walk or a yoga class just once a week.

The most important point: think about what has worked for you in the past – be ready to explore, keep track of what works for you, and discard what doesn’t.

Is this realistic?

What do you think?

Please leave a comment with what works for you - support and inspire someone!


"It always seems impossible until it is done." ~Nelson Mandela

Halona Patrick Shaw, LCSW, JD
Board Certified Life Coach
Eyes Turned Skyward, Inc.
ph/text (917) 846-7784