“One of the finest results of meditation is the increased gap between stimulus and response. That gap before I react gives me time to notice my habitual patterns and sometimes even decide whether to stay a slave to them or break loose (when this happens, the feeling is liberating – like getting naked in public).” Brent R. Oliver
You are a unique combination of experiences, perspectives, values, talents and strengths. Of all the people in the world, there is not one person exactly like you. You are a rare and valuable gem. Flaws, faults, failures and all. You are still special. Just the fact that you are still standing, still trying, still fighting for your dreams and goals, still finding joy in big things and small, still seeking out things to strive for and laugh about…in spite of everything. That’s your evidence. Remember that when tapes of old stories play in your head and consume you with worry that you should give up because of every real and imagined thing you think is wrong with you and your life. You are worth fighting for, no matter what has happened in your past. No matter what comes your way remember that there is nothing common about you. You are special and you are equal to any challenge. It matters not what anybody else around you has accomplished. You are uniquely you. You may have to stop, rest, get help and regroup to get through but you are equal to the challenge and get through is what you will do. And so it is.
As promised, eight more self-care tips for protecting your emotional health:
- Decide that there is no real value in always putting yourself last. In fact, it is important to sometimes put yourself first, even if you are a parent.
- Know it is okay to expect happiness in your daily life. Look for small pleasures you can be grateful for and relish throughout each day.
- Rest your mind. Spend time regularly in meditation, prayer or silence. Commit to this practice even if your life is very busy or doing so feels strange. You may even be surprised to find that you feel calmer, more productive and focused. Start simply by taking three or four deep breaths each time you visit the bathroom. Or you might set your alarm clock ten minutes earlier every morning to pray or meditate.
- Avoid people, places, media and situations that leave you feeling bad or drained. Protecting your time and space is one of the most important ways to practice self-care.
- Set up and honor personal boundaries. Yes, you can say “no” sometimes without bringing the world to an end.
- Be deliberate. Do things that don’t contradict what you say is important to you.
- Give yourself a break. The next time that voice in your head starts bad-mouthing you or putting you down, tell it to STOP. Choose an affirmation and repeat it for calm and comfort.
- Keep a journal, sing, color, dance, create…
Take Action Challenge: How will you practice self-care?
Tomorrow…the next building block for protecting your emotional health – support.
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
Make time for what matters…you.
Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself. – Hermann Hesse
You deserve to be happy. You are good. You are enough. Breathe deeply and remind yourself of this often.