I was running and getting things done. I was listening too closely and thinking too hard. I was figuring out how to navigate this new normal. Life sure can throw unexpected things your way. No one is immune.
I drove by the coffee place on my way out. I thought I might get a coffee on my way back. Then I didn’t think about it.
Coffee isn’t anything special, but it has become special to me. It has become a habit for me to slow down even when I’m busy….to take a break. It’s been a morning routine in the summer sitting out in the garden with my dogs. Sometimes I sit on the porch in the early morning hours when my street is quiet. In the past it’s been something I enjoyed with family and sometimes friends. Oh, coffee, isn’t the relaxing part. That’s silly. Today I needed that little break and that special treat for myself. Coffee was just the way in which I practiced some self-care. It felt nice to give that to myself.
Yes, it’s about self-care. I always give the analogy of the stewardess or pilot announcing that the oxygen masks would drop down on a flight in the event of an emergency. They tell you to put the mask on yourself before you assist someone that might need help like a child or an elderly person. Why is that? It’s pretty obvious. How can you help someone if you have nothing left?
Yet, that’s what we do quite often. We go until we have nothing left. The empaths. The caregivers. The spouses. The parents. The grandparents. The selfless people. The people who were taught to give to others, but were never taught to count yourself in. Somehow we got the message that it was selfish, but it couldn’t have been further from the truth.
Oh, you can be that selfless person who runs and does for everyone else. Sooner or later you find that you have been ignorning your own needs. Sooner or later you will discover the mind body connection and the absolute necessity to take good care of yourself. Hopefully it’s sooner rather than later. Because….how can we really justify NOT taking care of the life and the body and mind that we are privileged to have?
We can’t wait until there’s an emergency situation. The time is now! There are so many ways in which we can replenish ourselves and practice great self-care. Even small things like taking time to do something you enjoy where no one needs anything from you…well, it all contributes to taking care of your own needs.
You can start with something little. What brings you joy? What will make you smile? A crossword puzzle? Watching the birds at a birdfeeder? Maybe a specialty latte and a view of a waterfall? Praying. Wishing, dreaming. Coloring. Playing with a pet. Journaling. Reading. Fishing. Floating on a lake. Closing your eyes and picturing yourself on your beach vacation last year. They are all good things. They seem so simple yet have an immediate and profound impact on your mind, on your body and your spirit.
I have a challenge for you. List THREE simple things that bring you joy. Think of three things, even if you have to recall what you liked when you were a child. Hang them on the refrigerator or somewhere else where you can see it often. Read your list daily.
Now when you feel like you have nothing left, do one of those things. Really get lost in it. Enjoy it! For five minutes, for 30 minutes or even more time. Whatever you can do. Do it for yourself….just to feel nice, important, cared for.
WHEN you’re ready….take it a step further. Don’t just limit it to when you have nothing left. Use the list when you feel sad. When you feel upset. When you’re stressed out! When you feel lonely or mad or some other negative emotion. See what a difference that “change of mind”can make.
That simple strategy can really make a difference. There are so many other strategies that benefit people. I always say you should stock up your toolbox of strategies and tools for when you need them. For the simple reason that life does throw unexpected things at us.
Just so you know, I enjoyed that latte on the way back. I slowed down for a little bit. I sipped that hot cup of coffee with the caramel and nutty flavor (that kind of tasted like a snickers bar) and watched the waterfall from my car. It was only about ten minutes, but it was enough time for me to feel like I came first. It was all about self-care.
Tell me….do YOU practice excellent self-care?