Self Care Is Essential - 20 Ways That Work, Part One

Self Care is about tending to ourselves so we can remain healthy mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually.  In a world that seems to push our limits of sanity, stress our bodies, overtax our heart, and leave us little time for quiet introspection, we need a plan to care for self.  Here are 20 of the best ideas I know as a mental health professional/explorer of the human potential to keep us healthy in a balanced and expansive way. 
    1.    Our minds are thought creating machines so it is very important to understand what kind of thoughts we are creating, what kind of feelings those thoughts are generating and what kind of behaviors we have because of our thoughts and feelings.  This ability to know our thoughts, feelings and behaviors is called Mindfulness.  Mindfulness is an internal practice that can be a wonderful source of personal freedom.  When we know what is going on inside we can shape our experience of the world.  Freedom is to take full responsibility for our thoughts and feelings.  But before we believe in the power of our thoughts we must first come to the awareness that thoughts are not real.  Thoughts are just groups of words we give meaning to, so what works best if to give meaning to positive words which then create a positive experience of life.

    2.    Our bodies when taken care of serve us well through an entire lifetime.  A body well cared for through healthy diet, exercise, and plenty of rest and relaxation, will allow us feel fully alive in what we do.  A fit, strong and flexible body will feel good to be in.  Eating to energize and for enjoyment will make us feel positive.  Eating to self-sooth can lead to stuffing emotions and make us not feel so great.  Our body is really a temple for our soul and our purposeful expression here in our life.  Taking good care of our body will help us feel lighter and more energized.

    3.    We are all feeling creatures and to feel is to be alive.  To not feel is to numb out.  Feeling means to experience our emotions as they are without judgment.  There are no good or bad feelings.  Emotions are all ok, some more enjoyable and some uncomfortable.  To feel what we feel means we are able to experience all of life.  Acknowledged feelings quickly transforms them into other feelings; unexpressed emotions become tension and tightness in the body.   The more we accept ourselves and what we feel, the easier life will be.  Feelings are feedback, if we are heading in the right direction we will feel positive, if we have gone off course we will feel uneasy.
    4.    The Spirit within us is there to be explored and act as a kind of an internal GPS system designed to show us the way to realize our highest and fullest expression as a human being.   Each of us has our own personal expression of our spirit and that is best explored internally.  Spirit can be explored in meditation, in silence, in prayer, on a walk in nature, reading inspirational writings, through simple acts of kindness, and in many other ways.  The most important thing about Spirit is that in silence its infinite nature can be explored. 
    5.    It is essential to move energy to take good care of ourselves.  Moving energy includes working out, taking a walk around the building, standing up and stretching, breathing deeply, an art project, singing in your car, Reiki, crying over loss, going for an intense walk and talk with a friend, dancing to the music on your Shuffle or doing any vigorous activity that makes your body feel alive.   Moving energy gets the body flowing and moves it from stuck to back into action.  Moving energy wakes up the immune system, gets the mind to clear up, pumps up the heart, re-energized the body and releases pent up emotions. 

    6.    Living full in the present takes forgiveness, letting go, and a determination to move on.  The past has no influence over us unless we carry it forward.  This is why forgiveness is so important to living fully.  If we do not forgive and let go of what has gone on, then we are destined to relive it in our minds.  Forgiveness is for us when we forgive others or our own screw-ups.  Forgiveness sets up free to leave the past behind and to live in the now.  Letting go means not holding on anymore.  Think about how heavy it gets in our lives if we are carrying around unfinished business.  Let go today of all the past and live fully in the now.

    7.    Don't take anything personally, 99.9% of what others think and feel have nothing to do with us.  Maybe .1% of the time they are obsessing about someone else’s actions or inactions.  What others think of us is none of our business and it should remain that way.  Most of what others think is mostly their own projections of themselves onto others.  If we are dependent on what others think of us, we are prisoners of our own faulty thinking.  There is no way we can get everyone to like us while being true to who we really are inside.  Be free of the opinion of others and love who we are unconditionally.  
    8.    We must do our inner work to feel ok about our lives.  Inner work is to continue to grow, to seek further awareness, to understand our own thoughts and emotions, and to learn what areas we need to grow and what areas are assets within.  Inner work is taking the time to be a more conscious and compassionate human being.  Inner work is to appreciate who we are and to continue to explore our own potential.  Inner work is to explore our shadow side, our uncomfortable feelings, our resentments and to move each day towards more understanding and joy in our own lives.

    9.    We all have things that make us upset and therefore it is helpful to recognize our triggers.  What makes us mad, upset, sets us off or unrealistic in our expectations?  Awareness about our own triggers allows us to take back control from those that like to push our buttons.  Maybe we like to be in control, are too competitive, insist on being right or getting the last word in.  If we know out triggers we can then take our power back from those who want to be in control.  With awareness we can shrink our triggers and be less reactive and more at peace within. 

    10.    If there is one of the first 10 ideas that stands out for me it is the importance of listening inward, of paying attention to our intuition.  When we pay attention to what we know inside is right for us, things work out great and we feel alive and healthy.  If we instead ignore our intuitive knowing then we will inevitable cause suffering for ourselves and often for those we care about the most.  This inner guidance system is there for a purpose and that purpose it to guide us to be all that we are capable of being.  There is always the guidance we need if we commit to listening inside. 

I will be back tomorrow with Part Two.  Enjoy your day.