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Many times when hearing the term "self-care" does your mind instantly go to scheduling a "spa day" or taking a trip out of town? If so, you are not alone; especially with the increased use of this term via social media as people are "hashtagging" #selfcare to their posts while laying on the sunny beaches of Cancun. I personally would love to lay on a beach somewhere with one of those fruity drinks with an umbrella in it, but that's not possible!
What if your current life, and finances, do not afford you the opportunity to do so? Does this mean you cannot engage in self-care? Nope! I will say you can, but it involves taking a deeper dive into understanding yourself a little bit more and getting creative.
Here are 5 small (and hopefully simple) ways to begin to engage in increased self-care through improved self-awareness!
Just a disclaimer: I am not fond of seeing myself on camera, but I am working on it! here is my first video in all of its unedited and natural glory :-)
To reflect on my lovely first video, here are the suggestions below to consider:
#1 - Set Appropriate Boundaries
Setting boundaries is the foundation to improving your emotional-wellness. In a society where things are expected to be instantaneous, we tend to auto respond out of obligation which causes on over-extension of ourselves in relationships, work, etc. It is okay to set boundaries if you feel anxiety creeping in.
I will be sure to have a segment on Boundaries soon!
#2 - Try Something New
We tend to go into an autopilot and mundane process of life. We feel as though we are merely "existing" and not "living." What if I were to tell you self-care embodies trying something new to revive a sense of self and belonging. It sets us up to meet new people while expanding our "circle of influence" as I like to call it. Through expansion you build a wider support system to tap into when life happens.
I have heard many times in sessions where individuals feel isolated because they feel they have "no one." Each time I hear this, I encourage them to think of all the things they "wish" they could do, then write it out, and try it out!
Best case scenario is when you try something new (even if you discover it's not your thing) you learn you can move past the "what if's" and that is HUGE because it empowers an "I can do" mentality. And even more so, I can do this without needing someone by my side; which is usually the primary reasons individuals stay at home.
What are some barriers you have to stepping out of your comfort zone?
"A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there." – John Assaraf
#3 - Go Outside
With the pandemic, it has caused us to become stagnant with staying in place in our homes. We have gotten overly familiar with going from our beds, to the work chair, to the couch. We were afraid to step outside, yet now 3 years in we are establishing a "new norm" and it is time to go outside and "play." More importantly, the outside is FREE! Not to mention, so much can be done outside.
One of my favorite things I love to do, whether it's summer or winter, is to go out and have my coffee or tea. In the summer, I sit in the early mornings as the sun rises before the world wakes up and have intentional "me time" with my cup, the morning air, the quietness, and the birds. (Honestly it's my favorite part of the day). In the winter time, I may drive to a park, or the lake where the snow is covering, sit in my car with my cup, turn on my favorite music and just be present (with the heat on of course lol).
Some people enjoy hiking, walking, bike riding, skating, reading at the park. Whatever it is, get outside! It is my favorite mindfulness activity I share with my clients to try, and I have yet for one to come back to tell me getting outside was a bad idea.
What are some ways you can begin to get back outside?
#4 - Stop Striving
If I could get a dollar for every conversation I have processed regarding the impact social media has had on individuals feeling inadequate in their lives, I do not know know if I would be wealthy, but I for sure would be able to have a decent dinner for my son and I.
I would encourage you to not compare your life and self-reflect on areas of strength (not the positives), but areas where you exuded strength and personal accomplishments. Identify and define what success looks like for you in this current season of your life as we tend to look at the overall status of our lives and feel like we have "not arrived." This can create potential for increasing Cognitive Distortions which reinforce negative core beliefs of self.
If we cease measuring the success of our lives to others and solely by what makes sense for ourselves, this will reduce feelings of inadequacy and failure which increases feelings of purposelessness, anxiety, and depression.
I will eventually share about Cognitive Distortions as well
#5 - Talk it Out
When all else fails, the greatest self-care anyone can do (in my opinion) is talking to another unbiased and non-judgmental person and/or therapist. Many times self-care is rooted in needing validation of thoughts and feelings. When living in a society that is ego/self-preservation driven, it can leave others feeling unheard and devalued. Speaking to someone who is outside of your circle of influence can bring about perspective and skills development to navigate areas of concern.
I understand a barrier at times can be finances, but I will say with the pandemic, not all clinicians are private pay and now there is an increase in programs available which support making therapy more accessible financially through sliding fee scales.
Let Me know your thoughts
How have you been navigating self-care? what have been successes and areas of opportunity. Comment below