It is so very important that we all take care of ourselves. No one else is going to do it. When we don’t, we ultimately run ourselves into the ground. This is a healthy reminder that seems to return over and over around the holiday season. It is especially needed for women, but truly it is a good reminder for most people.
You can be a good, kind, and caring person, and still say NO. Be reminded to notice when you are saying yes to something and you really want to say no. Or, when you’re saying yes, but this means saying no to yourself.
It can be helpful to come up with self-care rituals that you spend time with regularly, especially during times of stress. Here are just a few ideas that you could try:
Write down at least 3 things each day that you’re grateful or thankful for, or things that went well today. It works best to write them down on paper, but if you have to, you can always keep a list on your phone or share them aloud with a loved one.
Make this a regular, consistent, daily practice. Even if you have to start over all the time. It can only be 2 minutes of sitting comfortably and breathing deeply, while noticing your mind. You’ll most likely not turn your mind off by any means. The point is not to turn anything off, but to simply recognize and notice when your mind floats away into thoughts. Then, you have the opportunity to bring it back to your breath, kindly and gently.
This can take many forms: go for a daily walk; hit the gym and do some cardio or strength training; practice yoga at home or in a studio; or simply get up from your desk at least once an hour to stretch and walk around the office a bit. One of my favorite at-home yoga instructors is Yoga with Adriene, free on YouTube. If you haven’t heard of her yet, please take the time to check her out.
Try using an essential oil you enjoy at the same time of day each day. The consistency is the key to connecting the intent with the scent and usefulness. If you’d like to try Lavender for sleep, then use it each night about an hour or two before you plan on going to sleep. The consistency gives a cue to your brain and body to start relaxing and preparing for sleep. If you’d like to get more energized in the morning, use a citrus (Sweet orange, grapefruit, or lemon) essential oil every morning either in the car on your way to/from the office or just before leaving home/office, or upon leaving and returning home. You can use these oils as energizing, as well as a cleansing ritual to transition from home/work/home and keep some sense of separation between the two.
These are only a select few ideas that I find work best. I’m sure you will come up with many more for yourself. In fact, it helps to try several different self-care ideas to determine the ones that work best for you. Reminder: the types of self-care ideas that seem to work best are active, not passive. What do you do for yourself that is active? What I mean is that we’re not talking about watching TV and laying around (unless it is one show that you deeply love and rarely take the time to watch).
Kimberly Atwood is a licensed psychotherapist and certified sex therapist working in private practice in Princeton, NJ. She also provides online therapy with clients living in Indiana, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. She specializes in sexual health, intimacy and relationship issues. For more information, please check out her website.