What comes to mind when you think about self-care? Do you associate self-care with being selfish? Or do you see the benefits, but feel you’re coming up short in sticking with your own plan? Perhaps you find yourself wishing: “If I could just stick with a regular self-care practice, then everything would feel right in my world.”
Whatever comes up for you when you think about self-care, imagine what it might be like to realize you already have a solid self-care practice — you just have to recognize it. What I am talking about is shifting the way you think about self-care to appreciate yourself for everything you ARE doing on a regular basis.
Often what is missing in our self-care practice is self-awareness. When we grow our awareness of everything we already do, we begin to appreciate the gifts we regularly give ourselves.
Here are 3 easy tricks to help you adopt a self-care mindset that will stick:
1) What are the things?
The first trick is simple and that is to make a giant list of all of the things you do that could be considered self-care. Things like brushing your teeth; feeding your body; moving your body; tucking yourself in at night to sleep and rest your body, etc. You get the point. Make a list of all the regular type things you do that require you to look after yourself.
The next step is to make a list of things you LOVE to do. They don’t have to be big things (but they can be, it’s your list). On my list I have things like: enjoy a cup of coffee; get outdoors and breathe in my surroundings; read books and snuggle with my children at the end of a long day; have a good belly laugh with a dear friend; go for a run; enjoy an uninterrupted bubble bath; and the list goes on.
The point of this step is to make a list of all the things you already do for yourself and an itemized list of what you love to do. This exercise helps you become aware of the detailed picture of your self-care — awareness is power.
2) Appreciate the moment.
The next trick is extremely important, and one that requires the most practice. Here is where you consciously set out to appreciate the gifts of self-care while you are giving and receiving them. This part is both tricky and powerful because it’s usually the missing step to fully recognizing, appreciating and growing a meaningful self-care practice. It is often the step we overlook because we can get so caught up in believing we never get time for ourselves, that we miss savoring the moments we do get. It is all the moments combined in a day that make for a solid, lasting, self-care practice.
A trick I use to help me see and savor all the moments in the day just for me, is to say to myself: “This is a gift for you, from me”. I say this to myself while I am enjoying those first sips of coffee, or brushing my teeth, or making my bed etc. It is a simple statement, yet it is one that has a way of immediately waking me up to appreciate the moments and gifts in my day. What we focus on becomes our reality. If we want more self-care, all we need to do is put our attention on everything we already do for ourselves on a regular basis. As we put our attention there, we create the opening to appreciate the moments we are in.
3) Regular Check-In.
The last trick is to check in with yourself regularly. This becomes easier as you appreciate more moments, and become increasingly aware of the regular care you give yourself. The check-in gives you the opportunity to have an honest conversation with yourself about what is working well, and what you would like to shift. Perhaps you are getting enough exercise but have noticed you are staying up too late and not getting adequate sleep. Or maybe you have had lots of social time and have been indulging in rich food and drink and want to scale it back some.
This step isn’t about beating yourself up for what isn’t going well. It is all about growing your awareness; listening to your intuition; and making course-corrections to keep you on the path that feels best for you. Regular check-ins give you the opportunity to pat yourself on the back for all of the self-care you have been implementing. Checking-in helps you feel motivated to continue going in a direction where you are strong in yourself and better equipped to weather the storms that come up in life.
What gifts have you already given yourself today?
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Originally published at www.huffingtonpost.com on December 30, 2016.