The Secret to Self-Care

The Secret to Self-Care

I don’t know about you but I am always surprised by how difficult I find it to maintain my self-care routine. I know how much better I feel when I do 30 minutes of cardio or 30 minutes of mobility exercise (which is stretching/strength training in motion), and mindfulness practice every day, yet one little bump in my plan and my routine crumbles.

It’s disheartening when my routine crumbles. My self-talk turns nasty and I know I have let myself down. Often breaking my wellness routine leads to a cascade of poor choices. I didn’t walk, so it doesn’t matter if I have pizza, or sit and binge watch “Lost in Space”. Keeping commitments to myself is the foundation of self-care.

I’ve been listening to a book by William Ury called, The Power of the Positive No, which says that for many of us, our biggest challenge is to say NO to the things which take us away from our YES. I understand this idea. If I am deeply committed to my YES of self-care, including good food, lots of movement, and meditation, then it is easier to say NO to the behaviors that interfere with these intentions.

Today I am spending some time journalling, visualizing, and exploring all of the underlying benefits of my self-care YES. I will condense my new knowing into a short statement or symbol which I will use to remind me of why my YES to self-care is so important, and then study it before bed, upon waking, and a few times during the day. I will add at least one gratitude to my end of day practice about self-care to acknowledge that I treated myself well today.

How will you add self-care to your day?

Featured photo Courtesy of ABMP

Being Thankful for the Present

Being Thankful for the Present

The future contains the present that the past was preparing for. Consider that for a moment. For all the time and resources spent preparing for a potential future, it will never be more than what was possible in the present. For all our lamentations and considerations about the past, it held within it the potential of the present we’re experiencing. The past and future are indelibly connected to what the present holds or becomes, yet we typically spend more time considering either than being thankful for the moment we currently reside in.

Bring to mind driving and, if that doesn’t have too many anxious associations, remember a time when you suddenly ‘woke up’ and realized several miles had gone by without full conscious awareness. Whether it was a focus on what was coming, that meeting or event, or what had happened previously, a missed opportunity or action unfulfilled, the present in which all that thinking was occurring slipped on by without your noticing. What sights were missed? Who passed us by? What dangers did we ignore? An entire section of life, a whole area of living, passed in a blur of contemplating everything but what was happening right in front of us.

Without a clear sense of where we currently are, what shape our life is in, it is profoundly difficult to engage in that nourishing practice called gratitude. Rather than simply a declaration said over the dinner table or engaged in on Thanksgiving, gratitude can be a lifelong practice reminding us to not lose sight of what’s directly around us.

The past is a recall of events seen through the lens of our current situation, removing us from contemplating what we already have. The future is a projection of our current hopes and concerns, removing us from consideration of our current situation. Both cast our vision away from the grounded reality of our current relational self, the very narrative that holds the potential to travel these roads in different ways. Think of turning a telescope to look upon a night sky, it is precisely where the lens or present is located that will determine what is seen through the other end. If we forget how powerful the present is, we may never shift our imagination to contemplate the rest of the sky above.

To start with gratitude is to begin with Value, the identification of what we hold to be important. It is to recognize our capacity to care, to connect, to hold the strings of our relational lives in our mind’s eye. To pause in that relational present, to refrain for just a moment from losing ourselves in the past or future, is to hold the now and everything it contains. That now provides all manner of lessons to be learned from what has come before and a growing list of potential outcomes out of what has yet to happen. It is precisely within the universal human process of Value-ing that gratitude springs eternal.