“There is no mistaking love. You feel it in your heart. It is the common fiber of life, the flame that heats our soul, energizes our spirit, and supplies passion to our lives.” ~~Elisabeth Kubler Ross
“I now see how owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.” Brene Brown
“Something inside you emerges…an innate, indwelling peace, stillness, aliveness. It is the unconditioned, who you are in your essence. It is what you had been looking for in the love object. It is yourself.” ~~Eckhart Tolle
#7 Love can change the course of my world.
Caring is all-important
In our WFS Program booklet it states, “Practice of Statement #7 leads to understanding love and the importance of self-care. Our New Life depends on establishing healthy, loving, relationships, first with ourselves and then with others.” While understanding love is an easy concept to comprehend, self-care may not be. So, what is self-care?
In today’s busy world, self-care is sometimes considered selfish, and oftentimes misunderstood. Yet, self-care IS NOT SELFISH and is exactly what is needed in order to feel a sense of balance, connection and to feel loved. In our New Lives, not drinking or using is our first act of self-care we experience. As our recovery unfolds, understanding and application of self-care expands.
How fitting is it that Valentine’s Day is this week. It is an opportune time to examine how we love ourselves and to plan self-care. Statement #7 states that “Caring is all-important.” How do you love and care for yourself? What are some actions that you can add to your self-care routine?
Statement #7 Tool:
Here are 12 ways to get started with your self-care by author Tchiki Davis, Ph.D. If you would like to share your tools for self-care, email [email protected]
1. Make sleep part of your self-care routine. Sleep can have a huge effect on how you feel both emotionally and physically. Not getting enough can even cause major health issues. But stress and other distractions can wreak havoc on our sleep. What do you do to make sleep part of a self-care routine? Start by thinking about your nightly routine. Are you eating or drinking immediately before bed? If so, it’s especially important to stay away from caffeine and sugar, which tend to keep you awake.
Reducing stress is also key. If you have work-related stress, think about the best ways to calm yourself after a hard day or relax more while on the job. You might talk to your employer about lessening your workload or settle a disagreement with a coworker. Next, make sure your bedroom is the best possible place for you to get good REM sleep. It should be free of distractions (such as a television, laptop, cellphone, etc.). And make sure you have room-darkening curtains to keep the sun from waking you up too early in the mornings.
2. Take care of yourself by taking care of your gut. Your gut health can have a significant impact on your health, well-being, and feelings of vitality. The types of foods you eat crucially impact the bacteria that live in your stomach, resulting in a cascade of either positive or negative outcomes. An unhappy gut can lead to an unhappy person, and vice-versa.
3. Exercise daily as part of your self-care routine. We all know exercise is good for us, but do we really know how good it is? Daily exercise can help you both physically and mentally, boosting your mood and reducing stress and anxiety, not to mention helping you shed extra weight. Of course, it might be hard to go to the gym every day, so try to incorporate other exercises, such as walking, tennis, or yoga, which may be able to fit into your schedule more easily. The most important thing is to create a routine that works for you.
4. Eat right for self-care. The food we eat has the potential to either keep us healthy or contribute to weight gain or diseases such as diabetes, but it can also keep our minds working and alert. Eating the right foods can help prevent short-term memory loss and inflammation, both of which can have long-term effects on the brain and, in turn, the rest of the body. Some of the most amazing self-care foods include fatty fish, blueberries, nuts, green leafy veggies, and brassicas, like broccoli.
5. Say no to others, and say yes to your self-care. Learning to say no is really hard; many of us feel obligated to say yes when someone asks for our time or energy. However, if you’re already stressed or overworked, saying yes to loved ones or coworkers can lead to burnout, anxiety, and irritability. It may take a little practice, but once you learn how to politely say no, you’ll start to feel more empowered, and you’ll have more time for your self-care.
6. Take a self-care trip. Taking a self-care trip can make a huge difference in your life. Even if you’re not feeling particularly stressed, getting away for a weekend every now and then can help you disconnect, relax, and be rejuvenated. These self-care trips don’t have to be costly; simply drive to the next town over and see the sights, or go camping nearby. The goal is to veer away from your normal schedule and take the time to do something just for yourself.
7. Take a self-care break by getting outside. Spending time outside can help you reduce stress, lower your blood pressure, and be more mindful. Studies have even shown that getting outside can help reduce fatigue, making it a great way to overcome symptoms of depression or burnout. Getting outside can also help you sleep better at night, especially if you do some physical activity, like hiking or walking, while you are outside.
8. Let a pet help you with your self-care. Pets can bring a boost to our lives. From giving unconditional love to providing companionship, pets can be hugely beneficial for our self-care. Dogs especially can help reduce stress and feelings of anxiety and can even lower blood pressure. In fact, many people who suffer from disorders like PTSD have benefited from working daily with animals, which is why service dogs have become so helpful for these individuals.
9. Take care of yourself by getting organized. Getting organized is often the first step to becoming a healthier you, because it allows you to figure out exactly what you need to do to take better care of yourself. A small change, like keeping a planner or a calendar on the fridge, can help you write down all your responsibilities and appointments, while at the same time keeping your life a bit more organized. You can also create an area to keep keys, purses, backpacks, briefcases, and coats, and make sure they’re ready to go for the next day.
10. Cook at home to care for yourself. Many people don’t take the time to make themselves meals, preferring instead to stop for fast food or popping a pre-made meal in the microwave. But these “fast” meals aren’t usually sufficient when it comes to feeding your body the right kinds of calories and nutrients. Even if it’s only once a week, consider making a healthy meal for yourself or your whole family. You could even look into a meal delivery service or meal kit that can help you get started.
11. Read a book on self-care for self-care. In today’s fast-paced world, we tend to turn to our phones for entertainment or comfort, scrolling through news feeds that can contribute to our stress and anxiety rather than helping it. Instead, consider bringing a book with you when you leave the house. Even better, bring books on self-care, so that you can learn more about how to take care of yourself while you are taking care of yourself. You might be amazed at the difference it can make when you slow down instead of always looking at your phone. Not only can it help improve your mood, but it can also help you to stay more present and mindful.
12. Schedule your self-care time, and guard that time with everything you have. It can be hard for us all to find extra time. But it’s extremely important to plan regular self-care time. Moments alone can help you to ponder the best ways to move forward in your life and keep you grounded. And moments with friends can help you feel more connected and relaxed.
Hi 4C Women,
Self-care is part of the journey to self-love. In years past, I over compensated for my need to be loved and accepted by being a people pleaser, feeling guilty if I even thought of saying no and doing something just for me. I lost the power to say no and my fear of rejection was so overwhelming. It took a while to work through this fear of rejection and forgive myself for a past I could not change. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that one day I would look in the mirror at my reflection and feel that I was a lovable, worthwhile human being. I had to care as much about myself as I did others. Besides forgiveness, I also needed to learn self-respect. It was quite challenging to overcome the feelings of guilt and begin to respect myself but I did learn and while there are moments of regret, I know that self-care and self-love are the keys to creating and keeping my New Life. It’s freedom to me. Freedom from the burden of saying yes when I meant no, freedom to shed the guilt and shame of all my yesterdays that can’t be changed and freedom to nurture my soul and spirit. To be so bold as to say I deserve it! I worked really hard to have this and the journey wasn’t an easy path at times. Yet Learning to love myself has actually given me more freedom to love others genuinely. I can breathe and when I am gasping for air, I have great support in the group and the 13 Statements to continue guiding me.
For those struggling with self-love, ask yourself what you love about yourself right now. Be as detailed as possible. This list is not about the things you need to change or improve upon to achieve self-love. This is what you love about yourself today, right now.
What is in your self-care routine now?
How could you love yourself enough to forgive yourself, nourish yourself, feed your soul and live in the moment?
Bonded in Self-Care and Self-Love, knowing that caring for ourselves and others can change the course of our world and that caring is all important, Dee