10 Self-Care Practices

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Self-care involves taking intentional steps in our lives to create balance and harmony. It means being aware of what we need and seeking it out. It's taking radical responsibility and saying yes to self-nurturing and kindness. Self-care is not only for personal transformation and restoration. It also fills our love and energy tanks so we have more to give in our relationships.

1) Schedule resets.

Resets are times we take throughout our life to check in with our needs and then meet them. They keep us connected with what our body is telling us and our mind from reaching burnout. It’s important to have small resets during the day (5-15 minutes long), medium resets during the weekends or days off (lasting 2-4 hours), and large resets (lasting a day or more). Some examples:

Small resets: sip some tea, go for a quick walk, do some stretches.                                                          Medium resets: Hike, nap, read, unplug from technology, get a massage, engage in your hobby            Large resets: Road trip, day at the spa, vacation.

2) Bookend your days with consistency.  Routines help us feel grounded and create a sense of safety and predictably at home.

3) Gratitude is the highest energy state. We are the most inspired, motivated, and happy in this mode.  It keeps us operating out of an abundance mentality (I have all that I need to move forward and be satisfied) versus a scarcity mentality (there’s not enough success/love/opportunity/money/creativity/etc for me).  Keep a gratitude journal or wall somewhere in your home.  Add to and look at it daily.

4) Get up earlier.  Give yourself the gift of waking up slowly and filling up mentally and physically before the rest of the house is awake.  Use this time to plan, meditate, write, do yoga, or go for a walk.

5)  Move away from a dieting mindset and shift to a gentler mindset that might work better when it comes to the way you relate to food. Try out some new mantras including,“I fill my body with nutrient-dense foods,” “I eat slowly and mindfully,” and “I can depend on myself to eat when I’m truly hungry and stop when I’m satiated.”  Speak these over yourself until they become true.

6)  Protect your time for sleeping. Create a consistent bedtime routine for yourself each night and put yourself “to bed” as you would do for a small child.  Lower the lights, drink something warm, turn off electronics, and do some stretching. Read something that doesn’t take much thinking.  These are all queues that your mind and body are looking for in order to settle in and rest.

7)  Be intentional about creating a social support network that nurtures true relational connection. Surround yourself with people you can ask for help from at any time and who you can be your most authentic, vulnerable self.

8) Be aware of how food and drinks affect you, in particular alcohol, coffee, and sugar.  Sugar can spike moods due to the rise in blood sugar levels and it’s often followed by a crash that can mimic depressive symptoms. Sugar also interacts with the neurotransmitter serotonin which controls and stabilizes our mood.  Be vigilant of caffeine if you have a propensity toward anxiety or if you have trouble sleeping, as it can stay in our system for 12-24 hours.  Caffeine overuse can also lead to adrenal fatigue, which creates a cycle of dependence on caffeine.

9)  Explore faith and spirituality. Be open to exploring and asking questions about the great mysteries of life.  Many people have suffered hurt by being a part of a church in their past. Explore the idea of what forgiveness of these wounds could mean for your life.   Church communities can be an impactful part of our support system and prayer can lead to answers and connection we might not otherwise have. 

10) Move your body. Research shows exercise can be just as effective as antidepressants. Exercise  releases stress our body wasn't designed to carry and facilitates deep breathing that calms our brain and vagus nerve.  Exercise also gives us energy, with the paradox of expending energy to create energy. 

 

Happy Spaces

The great people at @circacville keep my office and home well-furnished🙏New drink cart and coffee table (and flowers from my sweet husband) in my waiting room. ☺️ Love spaces that make me happy.🌺

 

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Hobbies for Mental Health

With hobbies, we use our minds in new and creative ways.  We also use our hands or bodies--we move in new and different ways. We enter into a zone of intentionality and exploration. We meet new people or learn something new about ourself. And in the end, we have achieved something we set out to achieve.  All of these combined are actually really good for our mental health.  We change habits, thought patterns, and belief systems through small steps. And hobbies can be a part of moving us in this direction. 

Benefits of Hobbies

1) Projects get us out of our head.  One of the last places you want to reside when suffering from depression and anxiety is in your head. Ongoing, easy-to-pickup projects give us purpose, help shift negative rumination, and help alleviate boredom. At the end of the day, sometimes Netflix can be your friend. Other times it leaves you feeling under stimulated and restless.  Having a project you can easily pick up and work on both challenges and relaxes the mind.  It can also give your body a chance to take some deep breaths and get into a zone. Since what you focus on expands, moving away from stress and worries can be a much-needed break.  And sometimes moving away from a problem actually leads to a solution.  Hobbies expose our thoughts to fresh air. Hobbies also expose us to creativity, which forces our mind to think differently and move us toward emotional regulation and awareness of thoughts. 

2) A way to meet people.  It’s hard to meet new people.  It just is. Finding a commonality with people is a way to start up conversations that could lead to lasting and supportive relationships and community. Online groups can be found on Meet Up (www.meetup.com) or other online forums and local groups can be found at craft stores, libraries, and health or art studios. 

3) A finished product or result. Whether it's cultivating a garden or taking yourself to the next level in yoga, you have brought something new to the world and to yourself.  This is a reminder of the choice you took to initiate and continue in a self-care ritual. Your light shines brighter when you take good care of you, and this can be inspiring and contagious to those in your sphere. 

How do I find a hobby? 

1) What did you like to do as a child? What did your parents or grandparents enjoy doing? These can sometimes indicate what you may be naturally inclined or wired to do. If you don't remember, ask a family member who might be able to remember what you loved filling your time with. Looking at old pictures may also help with this. 

2) What do you find yourself admiring online or on other peoples’ blog?  Have you ever said “I’d love to do that if I had the time, money, know-how, etc?” This could be pointing you in a direction of natural interest as well as something that will keep your interest over time. 

3) Ask current friends or co-workers.  Enlist the help of those who know you best to share what they might see you being interested in.  

What are some hobby ideas?

  • Bike riding
  • Macrame
  • Painting/watercolor
  • Writing
  • Reading
  • Antique buying/selling
  • Cooking
  • Volunteering
  • Yoga
  • Photography
  • Knitting
  • Music 
  • Hiking
  • Sewing
  • Cross-stitch
  • Embroidery

Whatever you chose, look at enlisting in a hobby as a gift to yourself and an act of self-care.  You never know where it could take you, who you could meet, or how it could assist you in reaching the goals you have set--mind, body, and spirit. 

The Real Social Network

The Real Social Network by George Ball

Article can be found at  http://www.fordhookvoice.com/2018/07/the-real-social-network/

At the dawning of the era of the personal computer, high-tech visionaries heralded the coming digital golden age. Technology would liberate us from drudgery and enrich our existence. Awaiting us was a new epoch of leisure and work-life balance.

Our lives would be more than lives; we’d have lifestyles, with bountiful “quality time” to spend at home with our families, and in our community with our friends, exploring interests and pursuing happiness.

The internet, we were promised, would be akin to a backlit Enlightenment, offering unprecedented opportunities to participate in a worldwide community, to learn, collaborate, and encounter diverse viewpoints to the betterment of ourselves and the world. Eureka!

Delete and update: in the 21st century the internet transformed from a wellspring of knowledge and community to a sinkhole filled with content intended to spark curiosity and provoke emotions, the better to monopolize our attention for as long as possible in the interest of commerce. Internet users went from being digital adventurers to virtual serfs bought and sold by advertisers.

We spend a third of our online time visiting social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, where we reside in a surrogate reality, a heatless inferno awash with imposters, misinformation, and discord. In seeking like-minded people, users encounter viewpoints mirroring their own, in an echo chamber that filters out alternative views.

Little wonder online socializing devolves into shouting matches. Still a vast repository of imagery, knowledge, and data, the internet has spawned impoverished media devoid of nonverbal cues—cadences, silent intervals, gestures, eye contact, facial expressions, attire—that convey, according to American psychologist Albert Mehrabian, up to 93 percent of meaning in communication. Online users are fractional selves miscommunicating with other fractional selves.

Join me now in the original social network, the garden, the last, best place on earth. Here you are worlds away from the internet, that airless, intangible domain empty of beauty, wonder, and soul.

First, let’s save children from the 24/7 social media carnival, where attention spans sputter, anxieties grow, and depressions fester. Let them not talk dirty, but get dirty. Show them burgeoning roots and shoots, hopeful buds, and handsome foliage. Let them gaze upon dazzling, luminous flowers. Teach them to become citizen-scientists, banding together to share sow dates and solve bug problems.

Set free your kids’ smiles, boost their moods, and—since studies show they eat what they grow—upgrade their diets. Let them learn the world from the ground up. Soon they’ll plant themselves not before the computer, but out in the yard; their ear buds will give way to budding plants, their texts replaced by the poetry of the landscape.

Escape the web’s cultural Babylon for the Edenic unison and serenity of the garden. Here, on humanity’s only winning side, tweets come across the lawn or from up the block; the only argy-bargy breaks out over damaged deer fences and knotweed invasions. Here is peace.

Here your senses are fully engaged in a setting rich in color, sunlight, moonlight, fragrance, texture, beauty, breezes, and palpable rewards. Your social network is the web of life, including insects, birds, fungi, and bacteria—all your evolutionary cohorts.

In the garden our lives are rewarded minute by minute, day by day, season by season. Our quests culminate in astonishing plants and flowers, and flavorful, nutritious vegetables, herbs, and fruits. Here natural algorithms lead to cornucopias of satisfaction.

Anthropologists tell us that humanity makes the culture by which it is made. We see this in how the garden—nature domesticated by people—domesticated us in turn, giving rise to culture (a word derived from the Latin word cultura, meaning growing, cultivation), towns and cities, civic life and institutions.

Expand your gardening social network with your family, or join friends, neighbors, and visitors in a community garden: an open-air chatroom. Go from the web to the web of nature. In gardens the virtual becomes tangible, meaningful, and edible. Here harmony is harvested. Here you are home.

A version of this article appeared in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and the Casper Star Tribune.