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Self Care That's "Out of the Box"

Self-care is a term that means different things to different people. For some, it is the territory we’re familiar with: Exercise, eating well, getting appropriate sleep, maintaining relationships in order to feel healthy, satisfied and purposeful in life.  For others, those practices may seem too easy, too obvious or too hard. I have clients that, for whatever reasons, do not engage with those tried, true and effective steps to taking care of themselves. So what to do then? First, we look at why they are resistant to trying those things. Do they feel like it just won’t work for them? That their issues are much bigger than can be helped with such simple solutions? Are they so depressed they can’t take the first steps to start investing in their health and wellness? Do they feel like they are not worth it? If so, where does that story come from? Then, we look at alternatives in the meantime, to help move them in the direction of overall better health: One of the greatest alternatives to what we know as traditional self-care is caring for others. If you can’t care for yourself, or don’t feel like you deserve it, do you feel like other’s do?  For example, a client of mine was an overwhelmed, recently single working mother’s who did not take the time to exercise or take that bubble bath because it felt like a selfish act when so much responsibility had been thrust upon her. I asked her what she wanted for her kids? Of course, she wanted her kids to be happy and healthy. So we talked about the things she did that gave that to her children. She had them try different sports, carted them to practices, listened to their excitement of learning new skills and developing new strengths and interests. Those things gave her true joy. It turned out that when we shifted her focus to THEIR joys, she felt better, calmer, more in-control. It was a perspective shift to self care: She felt better, happier and had a greater sense of peace when she focused on what she did for her children and how it benefitted them. It took no time, no physical action; just a shift in thinking. This led to her opening up her thoughts on her own care: "I bet I can be even more engaged in my children’s lives and happiness when I have more mental space.”  So she made the “selfish” choice to designate time for herself and decided to use her “me” time to color. Yes…color. One of those coloring books with endless images to fill in. Just the simple act of coloring relaxed her, gave her a few minutes to turn her mind off of her long list of worries and obligations, and allowed her to be more present in her own life. It was an act she could do for 5 minutes or an hour, whenever she wanted. It could be accomplished in quarantine. It could be done with her kids around. And it gave her her own sense of joy that wasn’t reliant on her children.  Another client was also feeling overwhelmed and couldn’t seem to find the motivation to take care of herself. So we talked about what her interests were as a child growing up. She had loved school, getting good grades, and appreciated the feedback of her efforts. We talked about what learning she was engaged in currently. And to no one’s surprise she was not engaged in any academic pursuits. She decided that math was a subject that she had always struggled with and wanted to be better at in school, and that it was not too late to start working at it again. At age 35. So she enrolled in an online math tutoring program to master calculus. It gave her excitement, challenged her, and carved out a time in her schedule that was just for her. She felt more confident and empowered as she committed to this goal, and her overall stress levels decreased. Please feel free to book an appointment today.

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