9 Elements of Success: Self-Care — Graduate Level

Eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise and getting enough sleep are the foundation of a iStock_000002038361Smallsolid self-care plan. Without them, your physical body won’t operate optimally which in turn affects your mental and emotional health. With that foundation in place you can expand your self-care in ways that feed you on many levels and motivate you to be an advocate for yourself and your well-being.

Following are some of my favorite ways to broaden and deepen your self-care plan:

  • Have realistic expectations of what it possible. You only have 24 hours in a day and you only have a portion of that time in which you have access to good brain power. Be realistic about what you can accomplish in that time. Otherwise, you set yourself up to constantly fall short of your expectations.
  • Make time to refuel. Pausing to take a break, relaxing and having fun are essential to refill your gas tank. Disengaging from work and deliberately stopping to rest your body and brain will make it possible for you to maintain good health, good relationships, access creativity, and work more efficiently and effectively. Running on empty for the sake of feeling in control of your “to do” list over time will make it impossible to be your best self. It will make all aspects of your life more difficult.
  • Control what you can. You can control your behavior, thoughts and attitudes, but you cannot control others. Trying to change the behavior of others is an exercise in futility that causes stress, angst and conflict in yourself and your relationships.
  • Look for the good, the positive in yourself, every person and every situation. With a commitment to a positive focus, you empower yourself to be part of solutions, not problems. Real change is only possible in the presence of positive emotional attractors.
  • Stop negative self-talk, the critical voice in your head. Negative thoughts pollute your thinking and make emotion management difficult. Replace them with curiosity about your behavior and appreciation of your strengths. Curiosity leads to self-awareness and the possibility of making different choices. Criticism keeps you small, ashamed and disempowered. Curiosity about your behavior and acknowledgement of your strengths lay the foundation for positive change.
  • Spend time with supportive, like-minded positive people. Their energy affects your energy.
  • Seek support from other people and groups when you feel overwhelmed, lost or off track from your positive focus and your goals.
  • Avoid spending much time in the presence of people who are toxic and negatively focused. Their energy affects your energy.
  • Maintain healthy boundaries. When a person has healthy boundaries they make careful choices about the commitments they make, taking into consideration their time, interests and availability. They know they cannot be all things to all people. They know how to say no to tasks that aren’t theirs to do and tasks they don’t want to do. People with healthy boundaries let other people solve their own problems. They offer support, but don’t take the problems of others as their own to fix.
  • Make decisions that take your needs into consideration. Be sure to include yourself in the equation. Consider what is best for you given your current reality, commitments, interests, and values. This is especially difficult for women who have been culturally programmed to put the needs of others before their own needs. Is it any wonder that many women are so tired, angry and resentful? Those are the consequences of not insuring that your own needs are met on a regular basis.
  • Maintain an organized home and/or office. The condition of your living and working spaces affects your energy, your ability to think clearly, your attitude and your productivity. Clutter creates negative energy and distractions that block good decision-making, getting things done, and maintaining a positive focus and good attitude. It engenders feelings of overwhelm, fatigue and hopelessness.
  • Develop a positive practice, an activity that feeds you with positive feelings and inspiration that helps you stay grounded and centered in the positive. This could include  yoga, meditation, journaling, spend in nature, daily spiritual reading, Tai Chi, walking your dogs, getting massages.

I could go on and on. There are so many possibilities for self-care. I’d love to hear about some of your favorite ways to take care of yourself. There is no absolute right way to do self-care. I liken it to a construction project, one that is on-going. Have fun assembling the pieces of your self-care plan! It’s a prerequisite to good health, good relationships and a good life!