25 Tips For Practicing Radical Self Care


By Deborah Roth, M.A.

When was the last time you did something really delicious just for you and didn't feel an ounce of guilt? Hopefully, it was recently, but the sad truth is that many of us are socialized to take care of everyone else first – and we’re called "selfish" if we object. The reality, though, is that if we don’t place ourselves at the center of our lives, we become increasingly scattered, ungrounded, and miserable. If we don't create space for our self care, we won't be whole enough to take care of all those we love or who depend on us. If our inner core – what I call our “Circle of One” (www.SpiritedLiving.com/co) – is weak, we can’t support our families, communities, and ultimately our larger visions for the world in the most empowered way possible.

Everything else becomes a little easier, a little less stressful, maybe even more fun, when we carve out time and space for ourselves in the midst of the whirlwind of life. So, how do we start to create an ongoing self care habit? One simple way is to break it down into the four-sided model of mind/body/heart/spirit. What can you do every day to support and nurture yourself in each of those areas: to stimulate your mind, nurture your body, honor your feelings and important relationships, and reconnect with spirit? Here are a few ideas to get you started…

Tip#1 – Read any good books lately? Your morning and evening commutes are a great time to stimulate your brain cells in different ways and learn more about topics that fascinate you… makes the time go faster, too!

Tip#2 – Check out your employer’s policy on tuition reimbursement. Whether it’s a weekend seminar on “effective communication” or an evening course at the local YMCA, you might be surprised at what’s covered in the name of “stress management” or career advancement.

Tip#3 – Writing down your thoughts, dreams and goals is the first step to getting them out of your head and into the world. Even if you don’t think there’s anything special up there, try spending 15 minutes each day for a week, writing whatever comes into your mind… no judgments or criticisms. It’ll be interesting to see what pops up.

Tip#4 – It’s amazing how so many seemingly little things can be big energy drains if they’re not handled. Make a list of everything you’re tolerating or putting up with. Some of them may take money to fix, but many are little annoyances that just want a little attention… like greasing the squeaky hinges on the front door, or finally cleaning out the spilled potato chips in the car!

Tip#5 – The next time you have to flush out a new project either at work or home, you might try "mind-mapping"… it's like outlining an idea, only with circles, lines and colors – definitely a visual approach. Check out www.peterussell.com/MindMaps/HowTo and get your art supplies ready.

Tip#6 – Keeping your memory sharp and your mind clear is critical to maintaining healthy work-life balance, whether it’s about remembering your daughter’s baseball game, or your boss’ meeting schedule. Crossword puzzles, trivia games, or playing “Brain Quest” (www.BrainQuest.com) with a favorite kid are all fun ways to stimulate your “grey matter”.

Tip#1 – Combat chronic rushing! Resolve to leave 10 minutes earlier than
you normally would to get to any appointment. Leave yourself time to stroll or drive leisurely and notice the difference in your energy level when you arrive. Adrenaline is an energy drainer... creates a great "rush", but with a price.

Tip#2 – Remember to BREATHE! In fact, make a point several times a day -- while you're sitting in traffic, on the subway, holding for someone on the phone -- to take five slow, deep breaths. If nothing else, you'll be re-oxygenating and re-activating your brain cells, ready to tackle the next project, challenge or phone call.

Tip#3 – We all know the benefits of healthy eating, but unless we’re forced to change our habits for medical reasons, we don’t get to experience the very real change in energy level, focus and well-being that results. Just pick one thing… cutting down on caffeine, switching to whole grains, eliminating sugar… and notice how your body responds. Once you get past the initial “detox” stage, you might be surprised at how much better you feel.

Tip#4 – There is no more powerful medicine than rest. When you sleep uninterrupted for a period of 7-8 hours, your body's natural healing and rejuvenating abilities are free to work, resulting in better reaction time, memory, and productivity. In fact, getting less than 6 hours triples your risk for a car accident… a pretty compelling reason to turn the light out earlier.

Tip#5 – You don’t have to be a marathon runner, swimmer or cyclist to reap the benefits of exercise, nor do you have to become a gym rat. The simple act of walking is a great low-impact, cardio workout. Try walking to work, or getting off the bus or subway a few stops early on the way home. Studies show that just 30 minutes of exercise can dramatically reduce the risk of heart disease and other illnesses, and increase your life expectancy.

Tip#6 – Some nutritionists say that 80% of the population are de-hydrated… are you?? Water is necessary for your body to digest and absorb vitamins and nutrients. It also detoxifies the liver and kidneys, and carries away waste from the body. Caffeinated coffee, tea and sodas all cause the body to lose water, which means your blood is literally thicker, making your brain less active and sapping your energy. So replace that ever-present coffee cup with a bottle of water and enjoy the boost!

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Tip#1 – Smell is the most evocative of all of our senses since it’s directly connected to the limbic system, the seat of all emotions and memory. Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center found that the scent of vanilla helped

This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission from the author.