Thursday, August 20, 2015

Let's talk about Self Care

One of the recent buzz words in Wellness is Self Care. Self care includes any intentional actions you take to care for your physical, mental and emotional health.  Pretty straightforward, right?  If you haven't really heard much about it, no biggie, but the bottom line is that if we don't take care of ourselves, who will??  Not a new concept really - I'm sure you've heard of these:
  • If Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy! (pardon the grammar ;)) 
  • Or, the airline air safety message before every flight "Place the oxygen mask over your nose and mouth. If you are traveling with a small child or someone else that requires assistance, put your mask on first and then assist the other person."
  • Or, you have to take care of yourself first, or you won't be any good to anyone else.
There are SOOOO many things that fall under the realm of Self Care, and I think it's an important enough topic to break it down into several different posts. This time, we're going to focus on Mindset.

I realize that I'm almost annoyingly positive - just ask P (sorry babe!)!  Any time someone mentions they're struggling an issue or are worried about something, my first instinct is to throw out a positive solution or perspective.  My personal catch phrase "It's gonna be great!" (For those of you who have worked with me in the past, you know this is true, right?)  But I, too, have struggled with negativity, especially in my own head with negative thoughts about myself, so I really do realize that it's not as easy as just flipping a switch.

While having a positive mindset may not make you think "Self Care" right way, how many thoughts do you think we have in an average day?  In doing some research, consensus is that we have an estimated 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts in one day!  Holy cow that's a lot of thoughts.  If even a small portion of these are negative, they can really impact your day. 

How you think about things is really a choice.  When you wake up on the right side of the bed, it really does affect how you feel the rest of the day, right? Well, on the flip side, having negative thoughts can create a domino effect of really ruining your day.  

Let's say you wake up in the morning after a good night's sleep, the birds are chirping, it's sunny and beautiful outside.  You feel good right?  Then you step on the scale and it shows you a number higher than you expect.  OR you're on your way into work and you get stuck behind a driver with their left turn signal stuck on, driving REEEALLLLY slow.  OR that same driver slams on their brakes, so you do too, but in the process you spill coffee on your nice new white shirt - and you have a big meeting that day!!!   AHHHHH!!!!

So what do you do?  You can choose to let those things get to you, bring you down and ruin your day, or you can take a deep breath and roll with it!  It's not easy if you're out of the habit, but with a little focus, time and practice, your mind will be more naturally positive and in turn you'll find more peace throughout the day.

Some of the habits we get into aren't helping us. Here are some of those things that we can consciously make the effort to let go of:
  1. Negative self talk: We all do this, right? Next time you notice that you're telling yourself something negative, change it up!  What would you say in that situation if you were talking to your best friend? Tell yourself something positive - even if it's just a little something, be nice to you!   Takes practice, for sure, but each time you catch yourself, it gets easier and soon you'll be giving yourself pep talks instead of cutting yourself down
  2. Limiting beliefs:  These are those thoughts like, "If only X happens, I'll be happy" or "I can't do it (or do it right!) so why try" or even "I don't have enough time/money/etc to do that."  To quote Anthony Robbins "Beliefs have the power to create and the power to destroy."   Or Henry Ford "Whether you think you can or you can't, you're right."  When you have thoughts about yourself that aren't adding any value, stop!  Replace them with thoughts that are more productive and supportive.
  3. Comparing yourself to others: Oh, buddy, this is a tough one.  In our competitive society, comparing ourselves to each other is second nature. How about you just be YOU, and rock it out!  Nobody can be you like you can! :)
  4. Resisting Change: Ever read "Who moved my Cheese?" by Spencer Johnson, M.D.?  Great book, breaks down dealing with change to a simple message.  There's a section called the Handwriting on the Wall and my favorite line from that is "The quicker you let go of Old Cheese, the sooner you can enjoy New Cheese." Think about it.  Just because something is new and different, doesn't mean it's a bad thing. In the corporate world, we frequently joke that the only thing consistent is change.  Think about rolling with the punches and shake it off. 
  5. The need to being right:  Would you rather be right or be happy?  Does the need to be right rule your conversations and relationships?  The need to be right or take the credit is often coming from a place of insecurity and the need to stroke the ego.  Your ego isn't you!  See #3 - Be YOU, and be wrong sometimes - just see what happens!

So that's the mind-stuff we want to let go of.  What more can we add in help bring about that self care through positive mindset?

  1. Gratitude: This is one of those things that definitely multiplies when you focus on it. Gratitude begets gratitude. Focusing on being thankful, even for small things.  Start a gratitude journal, or make it a habit to think about 2 things you're grateful for when you wake up and before bed every day, maybe while you're brushing your teeth. Ok, I'll start! I'm thankful for you! :)
  2. Walking with energy and purpose: Fake it till you make it!  Act as if you feel good and you'll feel better!  Even start a practice of positive daily affirmations, like Stewart Smalley, "I'm good enough. I'm smart enough. And doggone it, people like me."  Silly, yes, but it really works!  Try it!!
  3. Surrounding yourself with like-minded, uplifting people:  It's okay to have friends that have negative tenancies like Eeyore, but if ALL the people you hang out with are like that, yikes! Think about the people in your life.  After spending time with them, how do you feel?  Make a concerted effort to be with those that make you feel good more, and hang with those that bring you down a little less.
  4. Reflection: I'm a big fan of meditation because it helps me stay grounded and focus on the moment. It's not for everybody though, so even just take a moment to check in, just 60 seconds can make a difference.  Breathe! Stop the madness just for a minute a few times a day, focus on your breathing, and see how it impacts your perspective.
  5. Doing good for others:  What you give, you get back. "The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Mahatma Gandhi.  Find a cause you're passionate about and volunteer.  Or just open a door for someone, or give a compliment - doesn't have to be rocket science to make a difference in someone else's life!

To wrap up (I know this is a long post, yikes!), Self Care starts with your Mindset. Positive thoughts boost your mood, spirit, and tend to generate even more positivity and happiness in your life!  If all of these ideas are overwhelming, just start with the one that seems the most achievable to you. Make a conscious choice to make today great and by choosing that path, I think you'll see a difference in how you much better you can deal with things and how you feel. It's gonna be great! :)

Do you have any tips or tricks to share on how to keep your mindset in check or other thoughts on the topic?  Please share in the comments.

Contact me for a FREE consultation, and we can work together on your journey to a fulfilling life!  

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