You may have already heard the often-used metaphor of the oxygen mask in the aeroplane. We are instructed to put on our own before we help anyone else, including children in our care. This is for the obvious reason that if we pass out, we are no longer of any use to anyone.
In our daily lives, if we keep on giving too much and receiving too little, this ‘passing out’ can look like many things: exhaustion, chronic ill health, migraines, back pain, on-going anxiety, feeling low, depressed or overwhelmed, over-eating, using coping or avoidance mechanisms such as alcohol or any form of addiction. Essentially, it’s a strong signal that your resources are running out, and that you need to replenish them by being as good to yourself as you would be to others.
If you’re struggling to believe you deserve to be good to yourself, bear in mind that the more internal resources you have, the more you have to give to others.
Last time I talked about the first step in avoiding ‘passing out’: Believing you have an equal right to the give/receive, work/play balance, and that you deserve self-care. I’m guessing if you’re reading this you already know how to do the first part of each equation, i.e. give and work! So the question is how, and what, to receive and play at?
What do I deserve?
The mind is a tricksy place. I was chatting to a friend yesterday about the times when she pours herself a glass of wine, telling herself she deserves it at the end of a long day at work. But there is an attached guilt, so that drinking it is not even that enjoyable!
We explored a bit, around what she deserves, and she came to the conclusion that what she really deserves is whatever it is that will make her feel good, cared for or nurtured.
A lot of clients, when they first come to work with me, are very good at identifying what they don’t like about their lives, and what they would like to change. But they are much less certain about what they would like instead. Even daring to imagine how we would like our lives to look (and by extension – what we deserve) is hard, and is one of the central reasons that we struggle to create something better for ourselves.
What if we dared to try giving ourselves the kind of care and love that we know how to give others?
In order to maintain our own well-being there will be things that we need to add in to our lives, and there will be things we need to take away, or reduce. This week we’re looking at things to meet our different needs.
Here are some ideas:
- Ask yourself ‘ what would your body like?’
- Go to bed early
- Take some exercise or dance
- Give yourself good nutrition
- Have treatment such as osteopathy or massage
- Have a rest, nap or bath
- Ask yourself ‘What do you need?’
- Talk to somebody
- Spend time with a friend
- Write about your feelings
- Do something you know you’ll enjoy or will make you laugh
- Ask for or accept help
Ask yourself ‘How can I help you?’
Make a plan of action
Read/watch/listen to something informative or inspiring
Write down everything you need to do
Start something you’ve been putting off
Notice what you’re grateful for
- Ask yourself ‘what would uplift you, or bring you solace?’
- Walk in nature
- Sit quietly, meditate or pray
- Have time alone
- Try experiencing silence
- Make or do something creative
- Take time away or go on retreat
A great way to keep track of how you’re doing is to keep a self-care journal
At the end of each day just make a simple note of the things you did which added to your life that day. And also jot down anything that happened that took away from the pleasure of life. You will learn a lot by watching the patterns that emerge from this simple exercise.
For more on this read the lovely ‘Sleeping with Bread’ by Dennis, Sheila and Mattew Linn. You can find it here on Amazon
Next time we’ll be looking at what we might need to eliminate in order to take care of ourselves.