Truly Effective Self-Care

Earlier this month I gave a presentation on self-care for the ladies at church. Before I left the house that night, my husband asked what topic I would discuss. When I answered self -care, he asked, "What in the world does that mean?" I laughed and tried to explain that self-care is like me-time, but not the selfish me-time, the effective-at-helping-you-feel-better-me-time. I think he was still a bit confused when I left the house. At church, my 15 minute presentation turned into a 40 minute presentation due to all the wonderful input from my audience. (I'm glad I have such wise friends!)

When you think of the word self-care, you probably think about the adjectives rejuvenating, refreshing, and confidence-building. Done correctly, self-care becomes a wonderful addition to your weekly routine: Frazzled mom turns into calm mom, stressed out spouse turns into collected spouse, etc. You get the picture. But in order for self-care to actually be refreshing, you first need to determine the reason why you need to care for yourself.

Think about this example:
Sally is crazy upset at her friend Joanna. Because Sally is upset, she finds she is more snarky with her family and is stomping around the house. She recalls hearing about the benefits of taking a nice, long bath. So after the kids go to bed, Sally takes a nice, long bath where she keeps stewing over why Joanna is a horrible friend. After her bath she still feels tense and angry - but why? The relaxing bath didn't help Sally feel better because she tried to self-care without self-understanding.

Caring for yourself = Knowing yourself

Truly effective self-care can only restore you to your "happy place" if you take the time to understand yourself. Honestly and genuinely reflect on yourself. Discover what you are feeling deep down. That's why self-care lists can be difficult - everybody needs a personalized self-care regimen. Self-care can include taking a long bath, calling a friend, or getting a pedicure, but remember that effective self-care restores you to your happy place. If that pedicure doesn't help you move towards joy, it's not really self-care, it's just something fun.

Self-care has one purpose - to care for your body: your physical body, your spirit, your nutrition, and/or your social life. Emotions are one powerful way to gain insight into your self-care needs. If you find that you have migrated outside your happy place, then recognizing which emotion(s) pulled you away helps you discover the road back. You don't need to build a house on Frustration Avenue - analyze yourself and then drive back to your happy home.

Example #1:

You find out that some friends had a lunch date - without you. As you analyze your anger, sadness, and hurt at being left out, you realize the root of every feeling is loneliness. You realize that you've been so busy the last couple weeks that you've missed out on social time. At this point, it's easy to create the road map to your happy place. You schedule some play dates, invite a family over for dinner, and bam! After a few days, you are back at your happy place!

Example #2:

Things keep going wrong throughout the day, and you feel stretched in every responsibility. Nothing seems to be operating at 100%, and it's sooo frustrating. After some deep thought, you realize you are simply doing too much, and you are exhausted. You need more sleep. You decide to turn off all your techie devices after dinnertime and go to sleep by 10:00pm. After a few days, you feel confident again that you can handle whatever life throws at you. Feelings of peace return. Hello happy place!

Self-care requires some thought and some action, but the reward is worth the effort!
It's more than simple me-time; it's refreshing and restorative.

How do you deeply analyze how you are feeling?
How do you figure out which emotional roads you are traveling down?

Try working through emotions on a piece of paper.
Write down a simple sentence like, "I feel ________ because _________."
Then write another sentence like, "And that bothers me because I __________."
Keep it going. . .
"And that reminds me of _______ which hurts because _________."
Keep digging deeper until an emotion becomes the base.
"I'm not _____, I'm really just feeling ____________."

Once you have your root emotion, you know which road took you away from your happy place. Make a plan to return home, and follow through with your plan. Living life in your happy place is awesome. The more you come to understand yourself, the quicker you be able to catch yourself heading down the road of a negative emotion. The sooner you recognize that, the sooner you can return to your happy place. It takes time to develop this emotional intuition, and practicing effective self-care will strengthen your ability to truly know yourself.

Good luck with finding your personally effective self-care!
Leave me a comment with what works for you.