Category Archives: Self Care

Taking Care of Ourselves

Well, it’s been a difficult couple of months for many people. Some people are exhausted, frustrated, annoyed, and dismayed; myself included. So what can we do in hard times to take better care of ourselves?

First, we need to recognize that taking care of ourselves is not only good for us, it is vital for our mental, physical, and emotional health.

One of the things I wanted to share that has been helping me a great deal of late, is ambient music written by Moby, which he offers as a free download from his website. The album is over four hours long, and helps to soothe my frazzled nerves.

 

Another thing that really helps my is to get outside. The weather in Philadelphia has been unseasonably warm (or maybe this is the new normal?). Last weekend, my partner and I walked to the diner for brunch instead of driving. It was so refreshing to get outside, and have a great walk and talk. I felt so much better afterwards.

Finally, I’d like to mention that being active in the world can also help. Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post has a great article on How to Get Out of the Cycle of Outrage in a Trump World. It’s a great read. There is also a great list of ways to Strengthen our Spirits to Resist and Thrive by Finding Steady Ground. You should check it out for some more great ideas on things to do every day and every week.

What a Difference a Year Makes

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“It’s easy to waste time, but hard to be generous with it.”
Mildred Binns Young

 
Recently, I’ve been thinking about new beginnings. I guess that’s common with the start of a new year. I’ve also been thinking about how much can change in any give day, week, month, year, or decade.

In my 50+ years on this planet, I’ve only been able to figure out a handful of things. One of them is that time will pass, and another is that things will change.

 

I’m reminded of a quote by Arnold Bennett:
“The chief beauty about time
is that you cannot waste it in advance.
The next year, the next day, the next hour
are lying ready for you,
as perfect, as unspoiled,
as if you had never wasted or misapplied
a single moment in all your life.
You can turn over a new leaf every hour
if you choose.”

 

So, if time will pass and things will change, do we have the ability to influence time and change? Well, according to Bennett, we can turn over a new leaf every moment of every day, and how we spent our last few days, months, or years does not determine how we will spend the next hour.

This viewpoint gives me much hope in our troubled times. We can change ourselves and our world by envisioning the next hour, the next day, the next week, the next month as something very new. This moment IS new, and it will never come again. As Dan Millman says, “There are no ordinary moments.”

As 2017 dawns, we find ourselves in a rapidly changing world. Time will pass – this day, this week, this month, this year. And so I am reminded once again that change will come as time passes. Let us turn over a new leaf, and begin again to create the relationships and communities that we want to populate our lives in the days ahead.

 

Handling Holiday Stress

holiday-stress-fbThe holidays can be a stressful time for many people. Our jam-packed schedules are augmented with holiday get-togethers, family obligations, shopping, work events, children’s events, and concerts. Plus there are all the items we add to our to-do lists, such as baking, gift wrapping or making holiday greeting cards. With all of this extra doing, who isn’t stressed? So what can we do to handle holiday stress? Here are some ideas:

Look at the ‘shoulds’ on your holiday list: Maybe you feel like you should bake cookies, but you don’t really want to. How about letting that go? Ask yourself, what if I didn’t do this thing I think I should do? What’s the worst that could happen? If the consequences are minimal, perhaps you could leave it off your list. Consider saying ‘no’ to things that add to your stress level.

Resizing: If you think that you can’t take something off your list, how about reducing how much you do. For instance, if you really want to send holiday greeting cards, how about sending 10 instead of 50? Or if you are going to bake cookies, maybe you can bake two dozen instead of four?

Friends and Family: Most people say that spending time with friends and family is the most important part of the holidays. So how about doing that? Instead of buying another scarf for a friend, how about taking them out for a cup of coffee or tea? In our face-paced world, we don’t often have time for those who are most important to us. Spending time being together is more rewarding and reduces overall stress.

Ask for help: Perhaps there are things on your list that others could help with, such as wrapping presents, or decorating. Doing things together can add to the joy of the season by converting a stressful task into a bonding experience.

Slow down: The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can seem like fun, but it can also increase our stress levels. Finding time to relax, read, meditate, walk, journal, or listen to music can add peace to our lives if done at a leisurely pace instead of a hectic one.

Here are some other great resources for reducing stress during the holidays:

The Keys to a Happy Holiday by Margarita Tartakovsky

Three Things You Can do When You’re Alone on the Holidays by Sharon Martin

Home for the Holidays by R. Morgan Griffin

Tips for Parents on Managing Holiday Stress by the American Psychological Association

Wishing you and your family a low-stress holiday season.

Self Care

The election of Donald Trump earlier this month has upset manyjapanesemaplependlehill people. It may have seemed like a surreal episode of Survivor. When the votes were finally tallied, many people felt bewildered, confused, angry, blind-sided, frustrated, hopeless, betrayed, and fearful, while other rejoiced.

What should you do if you have overwhelming feelings? The simple answer is to take care of yourself, in the short-term and decide if there is any action you want to take for the longer term.

Today I want to provide some resources for Self Care.

Annie Wright offers 101 self care ideas for when things feel overwhelming, or 11 small ways to take care of yourself, such as:

  1. Acknowledge and feel your feelings
  2. Connect with others
  3. Limit social media and television
  4. Use healthy coping strategies
  5. Stick with your regular routine
  6. Exercise
  7. Express your feelings through art, dance, movement, song, or writing
  8. Ask for help from friends, mentors, clergy, or counselors
  9. Get involved in your community
  10. Host or join a conversation group
  11. Pray

Jasmine offers Self Care for People of Color where she advocates for:

  • mindful isolation by disconnecting from anything that might trigger you,
  • connecting with community,
  • exercising to discharge energy,
  • asking for help from others, and
  • taking care of your well being.

Jennifer offers 5 ways to use your journal for self care, including:

  1. exploring your feelings,
  2. clearing your mind,
  3. writing a gratitude list,
  4. forgiving yourself, and
  5. indulging in your dreams.

Another great resource for self care comes from the University of Buffalo School of Social Work and their Self-Care Starter Kit.  Here you can find work sheets, assessment tools, exercises, activities, and tips for creating a self-care plan.

During this month of Thanksgiving and gratitude, I am thankful for all of these resources and ways to take care of ourselves, and in taking care of ourselves we are better able to care for others.

Living without regrets

Glenorchy on FireTime is a funny thing. It passes so quickly, and today I had one of those experiences where your life passes before your eyes.

It was raining heavily and I was taking my car to be inspected. Someone made a sharp left turn in front of me, and I slammed on the brakes.

That was the moment when snippets of my life flashed in my mind.

I am happy to report that the anti-lock brakes worked perfectly, and a tragedy was avoided. Afterwards, I started to think about the Five Regrets of the Dying.

Bronnie Ware was a hospice nurse where she spent time with people who were dying. During this experience, she noticed that many people had similar regrets and she categorized them in her book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. Let’s take a look.

The top five regrets of the dying:

  1.  I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, instead of the life others expected of me.
  2.  I wish I hadn’t worked so hard (or much).
  3.  I wish I had the courage to express my feelings.
  4.  I wish I stayed in touch with my friends.
  5.  I wish I let myself be happier.

As I reflect on my morning drive, I know that I can live my life without regrets, knowing that time is a precious thing, and that accidents do happen; every day, all the time. So how might I live my life without regrets? Jenny Nichols has some great suggestions (40 of them!) about how to live without regrets. Among them are:

cultivating a sense of gratitude
taking care of yourself
relaxing with family and friends
becoming the person you’d like to spend the rest of your life with
treating yourself and others with dignity, respect, and compassion
doing something every day that makes you feel proud

So today, I am grateful for family and friends. I am proud of how I have embraced change over the last year, and I’m exploring the idea of becoming the person I’d like to spend the rest of my life with. How about you?

How can I switch my mind off?

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For decades, I have had problems with insomnia. Like many people, I have trouble turning my mind off. It goes around in circles thinking about this or that. I call it the hamster wheel. It just goes around and around, expending energy without accomplishing anything.

So my interest was peaked when I came across this article from Good Relaxation by Unmet Seepter about ways you can turn your mind off, particularly before going to sleep. Seepter advocates that you can try:

reading a book
taking a bath
listening to calming music
doing some stretches
turning off the electronics
writing down your worries or thoughts
visualizing something positive
meditating

I would also add a few other things to this list, such as:

drinking a cup of tea
cuddling
massaging your feet, neck, hands, or temples
petting a cat, dog, or something soft
praying
deep breathing
or progressive muscular relaxation

So how about tonight, instead of tossing and turning, try some of these strategies to relax yourself. Perhaps the hamster will get off the wheel, your mind will switch off, and you can drift into a peaceful sleep. Now wouldn’t that be lovely?

 

Try some silence; it’s good for you

Recently, I wrote about the benefits of meditation. Today, I’m writing about silence. While meditation is definitely good for you, we don’t always have time to meditate. This article in the Huffington Post by Carolyn Gregoire, talks about the benefits of silence such as:

  • relieving stress and tensionSilence
  • replenishing mental resources
  • regenerating brain cells

Silence also helps us to:
tap into our inner resources,
make meaning in our lives, empathize with others, and
reflect on our own experiences.

Just a few minutes of silence, perhaps five minutes in the morning, afternoon, and evening has been shown to have positive influences in our lives.

Good Relaxation notes that the benefits of silence are relaxation, clearing your mind, quieting the noise inside your mind, and refreshing your mind.

So, turn off the television. Turn off the radio. Put down the podcast and the music and the phone. Close your eyes, and sit for five minutes in silence. Notice your breathing. Notice your feelings. Notice your thoughts. Just be for a few minutes. Relax into your breathing. Enjoy a few minutes of silence a few times per day. It’s good for you.

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