The Basics of Essential Self-CareFeb 15, 2019
“Putting myself last is right, honorable or just the way it has to be.”
This mindset myth is killing the talent, the gifts, the creativity, and the power of women on a daily basis. It is that clear-cut. I see it in the clients I work with, the students we teach at PTLU, at my speaking events, and also in most conversations I have with women. Living with this mindset myth is a lie that women tell themselves. You see, when you live in a place of constant deprivation in the sacrifice of everyone around you, you are giving the world a depleted, exhausted version of who you really are and everyone loses.
Consider this, the speech they give you on an airline flight before you taxi down the runway, “Put on your oxygen mask first. Then, assist those around you.” The reason behind this safety procedure is that you are of no use to your children, your spouse, your elderly parents, or your neighbors if you’re not breathing yourself. Let’s take that logic and apply it here. You are not doing anyone any favors if you are operating on too little life oxygen. If you are empty, then everyone around you suffers because you are keeping them from the true greatness you have to offer. You may be able to operate but at what cost? What is the cost to everyone around you? Your self-care is paramount in the return to work process and you need this cornerstone in place.
A transition like “opting back in” takes stamina, determination, and ENERGY! The fuel for all of this comes directly from your self-care reserves – and I am not talking about a pedicure or a massage every once in a while. There are very specific arenas of who you are that need tending to in order to sustain the journey back to work. A strong self-care plan can make all the difference on that journey. I like to think of the four areas as buckets you need to have filled in order to really reap the benefits of self-care. They are:
Your Physical Self-Bucket
Your Emotional Self-Bucket
Your Mental/Intellectual Self Bucket
Your Spiritual Self-Bucket
When you are depleted in any of these areas your life is impacted. Let’s dive into the four areas and give you some questions so you can design your own solid self-care plan.
Step one is to pause your busy life and get some clarity. These questions will help:
Where do I feel depleted or deprived?
What do I need more of right now?
What do I need less of?
What do I want for myself?
What am I craving more of in my life?
Who or what is causing me to be resentful right now? What might be the cause of this?
Clarity is the steppingstone back from the chaos and deprivation. Asking some hard questions can be a game-changer.
Step two is doing the work!
Now that you have some clarity, doing the work to fuel yourself up again is the next step to tackle. That fuel comes from filling those buckets of your life that I mentioned above. I have set up this next section to guide you through each of the self-care buckets so you can assess what you need to tweak, change or add to your plan.
Physical Self Bucket
How are you taking care of yourself physically?
-Are you drinking enough water?
-Are you getting enough sleep?
-What food are you using to fuel your body?
-Do you have exercise built into your life to reduce stress?
Tweaking one of these for the next five days can significantly impact your life and put some fuel back in your tank. I tell my clients and students when it all feels out of control start with a focus on your physical self. Sleep alone can change everything!
Emotional Self Bucket
How do you care for yourself emotionally?
Your tribe and the people you put around you are everything. I am a firm believer that the 5 people you spend the most time with directly impact your emotional self.
-Who are those 5 people for you? Do some of those people need to get less of your time, attention and energy? What boundaries might you need to set?
-Do you need more time with one of your “people” to fill you up?
-How do you talk to yourself? That voice inside your head, what is it saying to you on a regular basis? Do you possibly need a therapist or coach to help you work through something?
When we fill ourselves up emotionally our perspective defaults more readily to gratitude, possibility, and creativity. These three qualities are fuel when you are called to navigate many of the return to work obstacles.
Mental Self Bucket
How are you stimulating yourself mentally?
-What are you reading, watching, or listening to? Is it motivating you or draining you?
-What are you doing to challenge yourself to learn something new?
This is an area where going back to work can instantly fill. Many of our clients and students have an instant feeling of fulfillment when they return to work and for many of them, it is because they had been intellectually understimulated. The new learning curve that work provides can fuel you for days, weeks, months, years! Growing and challenging your brain is a huge fuel-building opportunity. Work can fill this bucket especially if you do the preparation before reentering to target work that best fits your values, strengths, skills, aptitudes, and personality.
Spiritual Self Bucket
How do you care for yourself spiritually?
For some, this may have a religious connotation and for some, it may not. Spiritually filling yourself is about finding internal peace and calm daily.
Do you have a meditation on or prayer routine?
What is your morning ritual?
What ways do you use your creativity?
Do you get out in nature?
What are you doing to find periods of calm and quiet in your daily routine?
Training yourself to find calm every-single-day will give you a life raft to cling to when obstacles appear in front of you.
The last, and most important step, in building a strong self-care plan is, GIVING YOURSELF PERMISSION TO MAKE SELF-CARE A PRIORITY.
This can be a HUGE struggle. We see this it play-out in our students as they return to work for the first time and also when they are in the very beginning stages of the return to work process. We often hear, “It feels selfish.” You must shift this mindset and grant yourself permission to take care of YOU. The same love and compassion you give to others in your life is the same love and compassion you deserve and need to be giving to yourself. It is a leap, and one well worth taking.
Creating a strong self-care plan will assist you when challenging points arise on your back-to-work journey. Committing to it is up to you. You are worth it, you deserve it and the world will benefit from it. Now, I challenge you to make it happen!