Did you ever get the message to slow down? Well, I got it big time last week when I fell, requiring eight stitches at my elbow, only to have most of those stitches pop out and get restitched with nine more. I know I tend to be full steam ahead at times, so this was a not-so-subtle hint to take a break.
If I go and look back over the past couple of months, I have not paid as much attention to my own self-care as I have in the past. Perhaps the biggest problem is that while I might give it attention, I do not make it the priority I should.
What exactly is self-care and why is it important?
Self-care includes any intentional actions you take to care for yourself on a physical, emotional or spiritual level. It is individual and what works for me may or may not work for you. I also think of it as doing things today that will make me feel good now and later.
Self-care is important because if you do not take care of yourself first, you are no good to others. Remember the oxygen mask talk from airline travels. The flight attendant tells you to put your mask on before helping others.
How do you practice self-care?
For each of us that looks different. One of my favorite resources when I talk about self-care is The Art of Extreme Self-Care by Cheryl Richardson. Cheryl offers you 12 strategies (one for each month). Here are three.
1. Find Your Own Rhythm and Routine. Routines add stability and create balance in your life. Even routines at work make you more productive. Do not think of routine as boring!
To create your own rhythm and routine, Cheryl suggests asking yourself this question, “What one routine could I put in place this month that would improve my life the most?”
Next, write the routine down on an index card. Make a plan of how to incorporate this into your life. Keep the card in view where it reminds you of your commitment. After a week, consider if you feel more relaxed, balanced, or less overwhelmed.
Some of the routines I have are a walk each morning with friends, a meditation practice, breakfast and dinner with my husband, an evening walk with my husband and our dog. I know I need to work on getting my yoga practice back to a routine.
2. Create an Absolute No List. I imagine I am not the only person who has ever said yes to things she does not want to do.
It is just as important to know what you are willing to do as it is to know what you are not willing to do! Try to create a list of what you will not tolerate in your life. You do this to honor your own self-care. When Cheryl asked her friends for their examples, she got such “no’s” as live without pets; eat meat; finish reading books that lose my interest; feel bad about saying no when it is the best thing for me; do my own housecleaning; do my own taxes; and take phones calls during dinner. Your life will work better if you set these boundaries.
Cheryl suggests that when you start to put together your Absolute No List, you pay attention to how it feels in your body. Do activities cause tension or make you feel edgy? This is a sign to consider. Post the list where you can see it and imagine how it will make a difference in your life.
What is on my absolute no list? It includes not traveling early in the morning back from trade shows or other events. I used to take the early morning flight thinking I did not want to waste all the day, and I only ended up tired the next day. Now, I get a good night’s sleep and arrive home refreshed and ready to face the next day.
3. Learn to Disappoint. Is the reason you say yes (when you really don’t want to) because you do not want to disappoint? Do you take on tasks that don’t add to your life because you do not want to let someone down? My guess is we have all done this.
Cheryl offers three guidelines to help you “disappoint” people the right way:
- Buy some time by telling the person you need to get back to them and let them know upfront that you may not be able to oblige.
- Ask yourself if it is really something you would like to do using a scale of 1 to 10. I love Cheryl’s questioning that if you knew the person would not be angry or disappointed, would you say no.
- Tell the truth with grace and love. She suggests being honest about how you feel, telling the truth directly in one or two sentences, asking how you can get the person the help they need if it is appropriate.
While I gave you some strategies and a resource, it’s important to remember that much of self-care is about the attitude that you you matter and that your needs matter.
How are you treating yourself with compassion and caring for yourself? I would love to hear from you and what your techniques are. Just leave your thoughts below or on the ICAP Facebook or Google+ pages.
– – – – – – – – – –
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE?
Please do! Just use it in its entirety and be sure to include the blurb below:
Morna McEver is the founder and CEO of the International Association of Creative Arts Professionals where creative arts entrepreneurs craft business success. Her weekly e-zine offers tips, techniques and inspiration to help you craft business success from your creative arts passion. You can sign up for a FREE subscription at http://www.creativeartsprofessional.com.
WANT TO SEE MORE ARTICLE LIKE THIS?
See the ICAP blog at http://www.creativeartsprofessionals.com/weblog/
Tags: say no