We Need To Be More Selfless With Ourselves
You hear all the time, “you cannot give from an empty cup.” I mean, I’ve probably said it daily over the past 5 weeks since the COVID-19 crisis began.
Before this began, I was out with my girlfriend talking about stress. She asked, “How do I manage my time better so I can be less stressed?” And I asked, “Do you really think time management is the problem?” And then I paused and let her digest and ponder that question. “No” she replied, “I don’t prioritize ME.”
If it was as simple as a time management problem, I think we would have it nailed down. And that is the real truth. We want it to simply be as easy as taking a time management course and all our stressors will go away. We want it to be simple. And the truth is, it can be simple, but we, especially women, have made self-care and prioritizing our health and happiness so very complicated.
We are experiencing a very different type of stress right now. Stress that is unleashing fear, worry, concern, anxiety, so many feelings that we can’t even keep track some days, and massive amounts of uncertainty.
Controlling what I can, when I can, has really been helping me manage my stress levels. So rather than give you a bunch of stress management tips, which I think these days just feels like more work, I wanted to just give you a few things you can do that will help you feel more in control. So rather than stress management, these are life management tips to begin connecting with yourself, getting some stuff crossed off your list, some self-reflection questions, and I’m also sharing some ideas on things you can do to give yourself a sense of control while you navigate your way through these unchartered waters.
This isn’t a post about bubble baths, even though I love those and highly recommend adding it to the list. I wanted to write something more practical to help give you a little distraction during this difficult time and start to ease you into thinking about yourself once and a while. This share has a little bit of everything 🙂
The 3 R’s – Recognize, Record, Release
I have to add some inner work because I believe that self-awareness is key. When we know our triggers, we can watch out for them before we become burnt out, stressed out and are ready to blow like a pressure cooker.
Recognize what your stressors are.
Record – Write them down; how they make you feel, how you deal with them, what works, what doesn’t work, etc.
Release the negative feelings you have been having towards yourself. Self-loathing, blaming, guilt, shaming, etc. The release can be writing it out, talking it out, crying it out, just simply saying out loud, “I’m doing the best I can.”
Negative self-talk is what blocks us from allowing us to move forward. Self-awareness is the hammer that shatters that block.
Reconnect With Yourself
My favourite thing to do is to go on reflection walks. This is all about YOU walk. Which at this time is the only walks we can be, so now is the perfect time to put this into practice. It will also give you an excuse to safely get out of the house.
Put on comfortable walking shoes.
Dress in clothes that make you feel good. If it makes you feel good, put on makeup, or just some glossy lip balm, brush your hair. The intention is to walk out with the intention to feel good.
Go to the front door and take five deep, full breaths. Then, out loud, say: “I’m ready to reflect upon all the good things in my life.”
Walk for 30 minutes and as you continue to walk, take deep breaths and go through a mental list of all things that are good about your life.
Here are some questions you might consider:
What is working?
What parts of your life make you feel great?
Who are the people in your life that make your life better?
Who do you love?
What do you like about yourself?
What are some of your fondest memories?
Where do you love to go?
What are your favourite things to do?
What foods make you feel good?
What is your favourite book?
What is it that you love about your home, your pets, your car, and your job?
In what areas of your life are you feeling successful?
You can get as general as “I love my girlfriends” or as specific as “I organized my filing system to keep better track of my finances and personal records.”
The intention of the walk is to put aside all of the negative self-talk about what you have done, or what you think you should or could be doing. After the walk is over, you can get back to working on the things that need to be done, but put all your stressful thoughts aside for now.
Start Your Day Off Organized
If you are frazzled from the time your feet hit the floor in the morning that will most likely spread throughout your day. I know it does for me. It is hard for me to stop the frazzled momentum, so I do my best to start off positively. Because you are spending so much time at home right now, this will help you feel more in control and organized. Here are some things you can do:
Ensure that the dishes from the night before have been cleaned and put away. Ending and starting the day off with a clean kitchen is a great way to manage stress because we spend so much time there especially right now. If it is in a state of messiness, it will feel stressful. I know it is small, but the small things add up.
Make your lunch while prepping supper, or ensure that there will be leftovers, so it is one thing off your mentally overloaded brain that you don’t have to think of the next day.
Set your alarm 30 minutes earlier so that you can enjoy a little alone time before the house wakes up. I’ve been doing this and it feels so peaceful.
If you are also working from home, and have the kiddies at home, try and prep anything you can the night before that you will need for the next day. Routine really helps me feel more in control right now. Once you get into the routine, it will take less than 30 minutes a night and will become a
stresslife-management habit that you will want to commit to. You will have to do it eventually, so why not do it with the intention to feel good and limit stress?
Do One Thing All The Way
When we are busy and overstressed, or even when we feel like we have no control, like many of us feel right now, we tend not to complete things and our self-talk sounds something like, “I never get anything done” or “I must be stupid if I can’t do that” or “I will always be behind.”
Doing just one thing on this list, or rather the list that you make each day can make a huge difference in how you feel about yourself. Your brain loves accomplishing things. Think of how good it feels when someone is complete, or you scratch off that to-do list item in red ink. Such a proud moment 🙂 And remember, it isn’t about doing all things, it is about committing to just one thing. If you feel like doing them all that’s great, if not, don’t shame yourself. Do what you can, when you can.
Try it for a week and watch your self-proudness levels just rise. Here are some ideas:
Clean out your car. Throw out all the trash, recycle the recyclables, put everything back in the house that belongs in the house, and vacuum the floor mats. Then, wipe down the interior and windows with cleaner.
Clean out your purse or wallet. Throw away all the junk you don’t need. File the receipts. Put everything in the right place. Flatten out your money and stack it so that all the bills face the right way.
Clean out all the loose change and put it in a jar somewhere (label the jar “fun money.”)
Clean out the coat closet. Take out all the things that don’t belong in there and put them away properly. Hang up all the coats that have fallen or have half fallen off the hangers. Store all the scarves, hats, mittens, and earmuffs in a bin. Give away all the stuff that doesn’t fit anymore or that nobody wants. Check out all that extra space!
Go to your desk and take one manageable stack from your many stacks of things that need to be filed or put away, and file or put everything in that one pile.
Dust all the flat surfaces in the living room. This should take only five minutes, but it makes such a difference on the way you feel when you enter the room.
Make your bed and clean up your bedroom. Put dirty clothes in the hamper. Put clean clothes away in drawers, or hang back up in the closet.
Take a bath or a shower, than put moisturizer on every square inch of your skin. Put on a bathrobe and relax for fifteen minutes.
Read one full chapter of that book you’ve been trying to read.
Remember that call you’ve been meaning to make? Make the call.
Brush the dog or cat.
You know that thing you’ve been meaning to tell that person but keep forgetting or putting off? Tell him/her.
Set aside fifteen minutes –just fifteen minutes – for your own personal time. Go to a quiet room after instructing others you are not to be disturbed, set a timer, and do something all on your own that you really want to do, and do it for fifteen solid minutes.
Take a bath, with candles and wine, or your favourite drink. I’m sorry, I had to include it! The bath for self-care is so cliché, but I love it. I took a bath the other day with candles and played Scrabble on my phone for 40 minutes. There may have been red wine and an ear from my chocolate Easter bunny. It was blissful!
Commit To Yourself
No matter you do, commit to yourself. You commit so much to everyone else in your life, but it’s time to make a commitment to yourself as well. Self-love is about recognizing that you are worth self-care. Seek self-knowledge, treat yourself well, care for yourself, and you’ll learn to love, appreciate, yourself.
Then, when stress happens, which it will, and which it currently is, you’ll understand that the stress that happens outside of you doesn’t change who you are, what you are worth, how precious and incredible and worthy of self-love you are.
A Little More Inner Work
Let’s take the conversation above deeper and take it to our journal. This will help you see where, if any, you have self-care/love blocks. If you think it is selfish, or you don’t feel worthy, that is good information to have. It shows you what limiting beliefs need tending to.
How does it feel to focus on yourself?
What emotions come up for you when you think about self-care and self-love and how it is not selfish, but necessary for your health and happiness?