Don’t be afraid to take a big step if one is indicated. You can’t cross a chasm in two small jumps. David Lloyd George quoted in Do One Thing Everyday That Scares You – A Journal.
In other words…go ahead and leap for your dreams. Go for your goals. Throw off the burden of unrealized potential, it is too heavy to carry indefinitely.
Why are boundaries important for self care?
- Boundaries are a signal that you are choosing to be deliberate about your plans and goals. When you do not have or honor your boundaries, you risk being pulled in random directions.
- Boundaries are a way to stand up for yourself. Standing up for yourself can help you feel like you have some control over your life because you get to determine how you will use your resources instead of letting everyone else decide for you.
- Boundaries can help reduce stress and may even reduce outbursts of anger or frustration that often come with feeling out upon or overwhelmed.
A final thought…saying yes to everyone except yourself provides a poor example to others for how you expect – and deserve – to be treated.
About self help
Whether you are completing exercises in a workbook, reading the latest self-help book or article, or organizing a peer counseling/support group (may also be called a sister circle), you are engaging in self-help strategies. Self-help is a powerful emotional health tool because it requires an active, ongoing choice to face and work through challenges you are facing. Choosing self-help is like saying to a problem or challenge, I am still in charge of my life.
Take Action! Set up your own sister circle
Choose 2 or 3 other women and decide together what your circle will be like. Some ideas to discuss:
- Shared values around confidentiality and trust
- Meetings (when, how often, where, how long)
- Group goals (will your circle focus on a particular topic or problem like getting out of debt, parenting, or will it be more general)
- Expected commitment(s) from group members, etc.
You may need to revisit the values conversation periodically until you find just the right group groove. Sister circles are a great way to invest in your well-being, be accountable for your choices and goals as well as be heard.
Why not give it a try?
There is no one right way to ask for or get support. The only thing you can do wrong when it comes to support is try to do without it. No matter how strong, smart, talented or resourceful you are, you need the support of others. Even if it has been difficult in the past, don’t be afraid to rely on support. Look for support among friends, co-workers and family.
Be careful to choose people that care about you and are emotionally healthy enough to give and receive support. You can also look for support from strangers, such as in a support group.
What is a support group?
A support group is a gathering of people around a problem, period or theme for the purpose of sharing ideas, encouragement, resources and experiences.
Support groups are great because they:
- Are good places to be heard. Use this time to be honest about what is on your mind, what you need and how you are feeling.
- Offer safe space to explore your feelings. Chances are someone in the group has felt the same way and can relate.
- Are places where people know what you are going through. It is easy to feel isolated or like you are alone when you don’t have support.
- Can help you get unstuck because you are sharing information and ideas that give you motivation to move.
- Support ongoing personal development because you get encouragement to try something different.
- Are a great chance to give and get a pat on the back.
Find support groups at local community centers, at non-profit agencies, in the local paper, online, in faith communities or through employee assistance programs. Or you can start your own support group.
“God helps those who help themselves”
- This common phrase is not actually a bible verse
- It is intended as a way of encouraging initiative, but often functions as a way of shaming instead
The real truth…if you don’t speak up for yourself, who will?
- No one understands your needs better than you do
- You are your own best advocate
- Asking for help should not be understood as a sign of weakness
- Strong, capable people need help just like everybody else
- Having initiative does not mean you have to be completely self-reliant.
- Identifying and advocating for your needs is one way of taking the initiative for getting those needs met.
- Choosing not to remain silent about what you need and want is a way of practicing self care.
There is a saying that goes, do not allow yourself to be led away from the truth by what you would like to believe.
Domestic violence can be particularly difficult to come to terms with because of the complexity of emotions, values and hopes involved. Letting go of the hope that everything will be okay happens over a period of time, rather than in a day or a single moment. Some women leave and go back several times. If that describes you – never give up on yourself. You deserve a relationship free from physical and emotional violence. If that describes someone you know – never give up on her or assume “she likes it.” All people want and deserve to be happy and free from suffering.
Check back tomorrow for some of the warning signs of domestic violence
You don’t have to be a size two to cut your risk of diabetes or to be healthier. According to John Hopkins Medicine losing just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can reduce your risk of diabetes by 58% . That is only 10 to 20 pounds if you weigh 200. Go ahead and get started on your fitness plan. Exercise is a great way to practice self care because it feels good and it is good for you.
Start by setting small goals
You have probably heard the expression – a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Why not make fitness a part of your journey toward wellness? Think of health changes such as losing weight and inches or committing to a self care fitness plan as points along the journey. Establish mile markers along the way to keep yourself feeling encouraged. Here are some examples:
- I will start my exercise program on August 1 and exercise at least three times a week for 30 minutes for the next four weeks.
- I will lose five pounds in the next four weeks.
- I will lose three inches in the next four weeks.
- I will be able to run for 30 seconds without stopping by September 1
Although your overall goal may be to lose twenty pounds you are more likely to be successful if you set smaller goals along the way. Setting incremental goals keeps you encouraged because you give yourself the opportunity to see results and experience success quickly. You are also more likely to stick with your plan, which means you develop trust in yourself about doing what you say you will do. Use the feeling of being successful to motivate yourself to keep going or push even more. Before you know it your doctor will say you are safely out of the danger zone.
Women are often urged to look everywhere except within for comfort, centering, love and self-care thus reinforcing the idea that we don’t have what it takes to restore, heal or encourage ourselves. We do. We just have to find the strategies and connections that work for us. Consider combining community services and support with your own internal resources for a self care plan that you can build, direct and own. Here are a couple of strategies to try.
- Cognitively Based Compassion Training (CBCT), Mindfulness and Meditation Practice – learning to observe your feelings as they come up can make not identifying with them or not letting them lead you astray feel easier.
- Exercise and yoga (can be as effective as antidepressants) are good ways of claiming and using “me” time.
- Sister Circles – join with other women to harness the power of community caring, concern, accountability and support. Choose women that are emotionally healthy enough to support you in ways that are meaningful, and meet at least once monthly. Be sure to establish important group rules, for example – you may agree that members must observe confidentiality and agree to disagree respectfully.
- Journaling – Use the pages to explore your truths, values, fears and hopes.
- Counseling – Regard your therapist as a partner. You can choose the right one for you and fire therapists that are not a good fit. You don’t have to accept just anyone
Starting where I am is good enough and much kinder to my sense of self than never starting at all.
Getting started with exercise – The Centers for Disease Control advises adults to exercise at least 150 minutes at a moderate pace each week. Don’t let that number overwhelm you. Start where you are:
- If you have a minute or two, swing a kettlebell, jump rope or dance to your favorite song.
- If you have 5 or 10 minutes, take a brisk walk, do jumping jacks or lunges.
- If you have a pedometer, challenge yourself to take more steps each day.
- If you don’t have 30 minutes all at once, exercise in 10 or 15 minute increments.
You don’t have to start perfectly, you just have to start. That’s how you build trust in yourself – you do what you say you are going to do. Knowing you can count on yourself to come through is pretty powerful. If you have made a promise to yourself to exercise how will you keep it?