Hey everyone, it’s Betty again. Let’s talk some more about staying positive, since I have your attention anyway. Positivity is not happiness. In fact, they’re not really related at all. In my opinion, positivity is more about resiliency.
Resiliency is about building a buffer space between yourself and the ‘slings and arrows of grievous fortune”, as Shakespeare says. It’s about having enough centeredness to find a breathing space between the things that happen to you and how you respond to them. In the bestselling book “First Things First”, Stephen Covey describes responsibility as ‘the ability to respond’. This is different than reacting. But, this takes practice; including consistent and regular behaviors like what we talked about last week.
One of the most important tools for this is self-care. In a world of Instagram influencers, we sometimes confuse self-care with what I might call self-pampering. Bubble baths, pedicures, and dark chocolate all have a role to play here, but self-care is more encompassing than that.
Self-care includes things that might not be fun to do but are necessary, like getting some exercise in every day, showering, and making sure you’re not living off Pop Tarts. It can also include arranging for grocery delivery if you know you’re immunocompromised. Or turning off the news and reading a pleasant piece of fiction to give your brain a break. Maybe finally setting up automatic debit for your rent, or calling to negotiate some kind of payment plan.
What is self-care then, anyway?
The definition I share in the workshop is:
Self-care is a very active and powerful choice to engage in the activities that are required to gain or maintain an optimal level of overall health. And in this case, overall health includes not just the physical, but the psychological, emotional, social, and spiritual components of an individual’s well-being. (Mary McCoy)
First of all, self-care is a choice, which means we have to work at it a bit. It’s not just about physical stuff (which is what most self-pampering is). It’s all of the parts of your well-being. Optimal doesn’t mean perfect. I have eaten way more Toffifee (hey don’t judge, it was on sale) than I should have in the past two weeks, but I’m trying to stay active even though my gym is closed. Remember, we do what we can; beating yourself up for not being perfect isn’t helping.
What might self-care look like during this zany time?
Let’s take some examples from the workshop:
- PHYSICAL: showering, brushing your teeth, exercising
- Pajamas are not a good long term choice for work from home attire
- This includes eating well and getting enough sleep, by the way
- MENTAL/PSYCHOLOGICAL: journaling, meditation, learning new skills
- EMOTIONAL: time spent with supportive people, keeping commitments
- This time can be over the phone or via Facetime/Skype
- Making sure your financial commitments are met through automatic debit
- Following up with medical professionals about upcoming appointments to reschedule
- SPIRITUAL: being out in nature, animals, prayer, crafting
- Spiritual self-care isn’t about religion, necessarily, it’s about connecting to something ‘bigger’ or finding a sense of timelessness or flow
The website Blessing Manifesting has a wonderful breakdown of different kinds of self-care and how they might turn up in your life; they have way more categories and examples than I do.
Implementing a new self-care practice
Your turn! Grab a piece of paper and write down some of the things you do in each area right now. You can include things you’ve done recently that have been derailed by the current situation. The first step is taking credit for all the awesome things you are already doing to take care of yourself during this time.
Okay, now look at your personalized list for physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual self-care. Do you feel like there’s an area that’s a little lacking compared to the others? Personally, I tend to eat badly and not get enough sleep when I’m stressed out. Or I neglect all the things in my life that give me joy like my crafting hobbies. Have a look at your list and pick one area where you would like to add something.
Super important side note: Not 2,381 areas. ONE area. If you try to do too much too soon, the wheels come off, especially when you’re already dealing with formless anxiety.
Write that one thing you are going to do down on the piece of paper. For example, I am going to add in an hour or two one night a week to finish up a dressmaking project I’m working on. Think about your upcoming week and write down exactly when you are going to do it, and where. (6:00, Monday night, three hour block, living room)
Okay good, so here’s the hard part. Tell someone. Make yourself accountable. Most people will honor commitments they make to others way before they will honor commitments they make to themselves. So if you tell someone else you’re going to do The Thing, and you know they will call you to see how it went, you’re more likely to do it.
Look at it this way. I just made myself accountable to the whole danged internet, so I’d better do it. *laughing* This blog post may go up after my deadline, but you get the idea.
Why should I bother?
Implementing consistent and relevant self-care is critical when we are lacking stability in our lives in other areas. Many of us, especially people who are helper-types (points at self) have a tendency to put other people’s needs before our own because that makes us feel good. Sometimes when we talk about this in the workshop, people struggle with it because they feel like they don’t do anything to look after themselves, which is a valuable lesson too.
Helping others is great. But you can’t fill someone else’s glass from an empty pitcher, and this is a lesson hard won in both my personal and professional lives. You need to make time to recharge and look after yourself first, and then offer help to others when you can do so from a place of strength.
Wishing everyone health. Stay home, wash your hands, and be well. Look after yourselves.