An Ounce Of Prevention
By: Kathy
November 18, 2012

Self-WHAT?  It’s called self-care.  I know it’s a foreign term to some, but if you don’t understand the concept of self-care, you’re in for some trouble!

I regularly encounter people who don’t have a clue when I ask what they do to take care of themselves.  Quite frankly, neither did I many years ago!  Most people attempt an answer by talking about their vacations or what is preventing them from going on a vacation right now.

Self-care is not about vacations, however, we’ve all been on vacations and came back feeling unrefreshed, right?

Here’s what I’m really asking . . . How Do You Be Nice To Yourself on a Daily Basis?  I have witnessed far too many people come in to my office, stressed to the point of exhaustion, extreme internal chaos, and almost literally at their breaking point.  Their needs have gone unmet for far too long and the pendulum needs to swing in the other direction – and fast!  If they don’t get their needs met soon, the pendulum might swing equally as far in the other direction.  Operating from these extremes is not healthy and can lead to a trip to the stress center!

My question is why do we have an attitude that says we have to wait until we’re absolutely, positively spent before allowing ourselves self-care?  So let’s talk about approaching self-care differently.

Self-care is not a once or twice a year vacation.  It’s not a weekend venture with friends or spouse once a quarter.  In fact, you don’t even have to leave town in order to get some good self-care!

Self-care is about learning to be kind to yourself – every day.  Allow yourself to just sit in the sunshine and breathe for 10 minutes on your lunch break after a hard morning.  Delight in the laughter of children on a playground while you are driving home from work.  Make yourself your favorite cup of tea.  Linger a few extra minutes in the shower just to enjoy the warmth.  Soak up the serenity of the nature as you wait for someone.  Take a 15 minute power nap.  In order to do these things, however, you have to give yourself permission.  Sadly, far too many of us have internal messages that simply won’t allow us to go at any speed less than full-tilt!  If you want your life to slow down, then you have to learn how to slow down on the inside.

Understand, however, that the things I’m suggesting are impossible if you don’t know your own needs – and most people don’t!  They have a vague idea of what they need, and usually expect their needs to be met by others, but they remain under-met and wanting!  There’s only one way to learn what your needs are and to start getting them met.  Pay attention to what you are feeling!

If you are feeling irritable, agitated or angry, there’s a need going unmet!  Experiment with different things to see if it registers.  Keep track of what works and what doesn’t.  As you  make this part of your daily routine, a way of your life, you will find that you’ll spend less time scraping the bottom of the barrel for energy to make it through your day.  Instead, you may find yourself drawing from a replenishable resource and your overall sense of well-being will thank you for it!

Waiting until you have nearly depleted all of your energy is just asking for trouble!  Start learning your needs today.  Begin filling your needs in a small way right away.  An ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure!