I have a friend who loves a red, ripe, end-of-summer tomato. Just to sink her teeth in it like she’s eating an apple, and letting the juices run down her arm, is bliss. The earthy, delicious flavor. Yum.
But her husband and children do not like tomatoes. Something about the texture. So she never buys them. Why? Because her family doesn’t like them, of course. But isn’t she worth the price of a tomato? Couldn’t she buy one for herself? She could. But she doesn’t. She doesn’t do much of anything that’s just for her. Her job comes first, her clients come first, her children, her home, her husband. Even her dog comes first.
She’s gotten into a habit of putting herself last. She does not even appear on her list of things to do. But taking good care of yourself keeps you mentally and physically healthy. So she needs to consider good self-care and wish herself to “have a good day.” She should be at least as nice to herself as she would be to a complete stranger.
Here are ideas to help you when you especially need self-care:
1) Calm your sensory overload. When you have people pulling at you from all angles—everyone needs a piece of you immediately!—it’s time to calm yourself. Go into a dark room, lie down, and close your eyes. Don’t listen to music. Don’t let your iPhone beep. Don’t allow the children in unless the house is on fire. Be quiet and still with absolutely no stimuli for an hour every day.
If you absolutely cannot find the time for this, take a warm bath. Or sit by the fire. Sit outside in the sun. Pet your cat. Or just stop and breathe. Notice your breath going in and out. Everyone has time for that.
2) Surrender to your emotions. Notice what you’re feeling and accept it. If you’re feeling sad, or down, don’t try to change it. Let yourself cry if you want to. Just acknowledge it and take it in. Be compassionate with yourself. Whatever you’re feeling is okay.
3) Move your body. Just getting up to go for a walk can elevate your mood. Get outside and stretch, run, ride your bike. Go to yoga class. Tend your garden. Take your camera out in search of something to shoot. Physical activity is good for your mind.
4) Seek out spirituality. Find some poetry you’ve been meaning to read and read it now. Spend some quiet time in the woods or somewhere in nature. Start a gratitude journal, or just list five things you’re grateful for. Meditate. Talk to God. Go to a place of worship you’ve never been to before. Or go to one that’s familiar to you.
5) Do something just for fun. Take yourself to an elegant place for lunch. Walk in a formal garden. Get a massage. Do a craft that you find enjoyable. And go ahead. Buy the tomatoes and eat all you want. Just because you want to.
Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: https://www.nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact-us.