Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Self-Care Revisited

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Self-care is one of my things. It's definitely something I focus on because I need to learn it. And my body is reminding me in no uncertain terms that it's time to give self-care another serious look. One of the patterns in my life has often been work hard, work hard, work hard, be sick and collapse, work hard, work hard, work hard... Over the past several years I've been doing a good job at changing that. I've made a commitment to dedicating myself and my energy to the things that I do while nurturing myself in spirit and body. I've invited more ease into my life and enjoyed it.

So what happened? I worked my buns off at the blue belt and here I am, sick as a dog. Doesn't it suck? And speaking of sucking, I'm feeling sucked back into that old pattern, fearing that I won't have the stamina to do all the things that I want in the world and that list is long, baby! How disheartening. Last night, in his great wisdom, Justin said to me, "You don't have to change what you're doing. You just have to change how you do it." *Bing* He's really got me thinking.

So I've been thinking about some things that I do that have been working and some that I would like to shift. Here's the beginning. If you have any insights, I'd love to hear them.

Tips for Moving Powerfully Forward while Maintaining Health, Sanity and Joy!

  • When you are tired, sleep.

It's that simple. Don't start with the "oh, my gosh, I feel so old. It's 9:30, and I'm going to bed. How lame." (Am I the only one that does that?) It helped me to reframe it a bit and think of going to bed early as a luxury where I get to indulge in extra hours of delicious sleep.

  • Contrary to popular practice, when you are busy and stressed, increase your nutrition and decrease your crap intake.

Generally, I do the inverse. When I'm super busy and stressed, I'm more likely to pick up fast food and indulge in several extra coffees, not to mention go out for beers, pick up a bottle of wine, etc. All the while I'm also eating less home-cooking, less fruit, less vegetables, forgetting to drink my water, etc. All of this serves to increase the pressure on my body, not decrease it.

  • No matter how busy you are, take some downtime.

Sometimes it can be a matter of taking 2 minutes within a busy hour to just walk away from the desk or stare out the window. And define downtime for yourself. Sometimes just a change of pace can really decrease my stress. For example, I often go do the dishes when I'm writing something with a deadline. It is easy and methodical, and when I'm done I feel like I've accomplished something, like this little corner of the world is nicer because I was there.

  • Remember, it probably isn't a life-or-death situation.

All that adrenaline and the fact that I'm focusing on something I really, really want tends to make me get so invested in the activity that everything becomes hyper-important and I become hyper-vigilant. I must be on time. I must be prepared. I must have studied the material backwards and foward. My inner perfectionist gets out and brings her whip. I need to remember that approaching something with intensity doesn't have to mean approaching it with fear or demand or aggression. Which leads me to...

  • Why am I doing this anyway?

Sometimes I get so wrapped up in the intensity and drive of the experience that I'm no longer enjoying it. I have to remind myself: this is something I wanted to do. It is often something I actually enjoy doing. I need to remember to invite the love back in and ask my over-achieving perfectionist to take a break and trust that I will find my way, learn the work, show my stuff, whatever it is that I'm trying to do. I can take a deep breathe and actually have this experience that means so much to me. This is the sweet spot, the moment that I want to create. This is the life that I want to be living.


Anonymous said...

Oh, this is all good stuff Jamie! I really hear you on a lot of this and think we as a culture in the western world really don't pay attention to our inner voice when it comes to self-care at all. What a fantastic perspective Justin had too!

I was up before 6 am because of a nightmare and went back to bed 8-9 am. I almost didn't do it because I figured, I'm already up. But I felt so drained and lay down which took the edge off. I intuitively followed your advice!

melba said...

Sleep is very important, but not just laying in bed, but deep sleep. I started doing Yoga on Novemeber first and the quality of my sleep has really improved. I also make a BIG effort not to have coffee (caffine) after 11AM.

I also think time is the reason we all feel stressed, we want More time. I try to multitask when ever posiible and not be too hard on myself when the house is a messier than I would like it to be.

You are such a smart girl Jamie. You are very aware. It is a pleasure to witness you live.

Shannon said...

Great suggestions Jamie, its so true that when you are busy you should be even more good to yourself!

Anonymous said...

Good good good advice. Much needed reminders. Thanks.

la vie en rose said...

girl, this is excellent advice...advice i need to practice myself...

Anonymous said...

a great post. self-care is on my mind too. sometimes i practice it daily, while other times it gets away from me.

Jessie said...

"remember it isn't a life-or-death situation"--yes, now this is a good one! at least, for me it definately is!

i love your list and am glad you've decided to share it with us.

this past summer/fall i spent a lot of time beging sick. i never used to get sick--never, ever. but then, BAM, it kept happening. and i notice that whenever i push myself to far it rears its ugly head--threatening to make my body sick again. i'm learning to respect this about myself. this learning is a process though, isn't it.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jamie,

I'm sick too. I really don't like it at all. Mine was stress-induced also.

I like your insights about managing life, body, soul so that we don't have to deal with these cave-ins.

We expect way too much of our days. We believe that more is better.

When I lived with a family in Mexico several years ago, I learned that being busy is not seen as something to boast about. They really live well. They relax, they take siestas, they don't rush, they don't multi-task.

Less is more.

Anonymous said...

This is a wonderful post Jamie - one that we ALL need to read over and over I think!

I'm finding that self-care is the hardest thing for me. I don't take care of myself until I'm a wreck! I am learning though!!

Anonymous said...

This post reminded me of the fact that in native traditions you are not permitted to do a warrior's vision quest until you can first demonstrate self-care. It's a big thing. Congratulations on your blue belt!