When I started a facebook group called Therapists’ Self Care Support this past year, I never imagined how fast it would grow. At the time of writing this blog post we are up to 935 members and it grows every day. Therapists from all over the world post their ideas, ponderings and sharing about self-care.
We therapists KNOW that self care is an urgent ethical consideration because if we do not care for ourselves we can not provide quality care for our clients.
I recently posted to invite members of this group to share what new year’s resolutions they have with regard to their self care. The comments spurred inspiration to provide a list of 50 ways you can love yourself in the new year.
I’m not talking about vanity or narcissistic self-love. I am talking about conscious caring of the Self …. so that your battery can stay well-charged in order to be of service to others.
So, look over this list and maybe choose 2 or 3 items as your new year’s resolutions:
50 Ways to Love Yourself in the New Year
- Schedule lunch breaks and take them.
- Slow down when you eat. Chew your food slowly and really taste the food. Don’t eat in the car. Sit down and savor
- Between phone calls or appointments, close your eyes and take 4 slow cycles of deep, full breaths.
- When you wake up in the morning, rise slowly and take a few minutes to sit and be with the new day and your breath before jumping up.
- Drink plenty of water – aim for 8 ounces each hour of your work day.
- Using a straw, drink 8 ounces of warm water with the juice of a half lemon upon rising each morning.
- Take a 15 minute brisk walk each morning and/or evening. Swing your arms. Look up at the sky and the tree-tops.
- Do some gentle, simple yoga postures and stretches throughout the day. Take a beginner’s yoga class.
- Eat whole foods. Avoid processed or “fast” food.
- Go organic. Support your local organic farmers. Eat seasonally.
- Avoid sugar and white flour.
- Rethink the drink – Alcohol is such a big part of our culture but if we really look at it objectively we will see it is a mind-altering substance that does nothing good for our bodies. If true moderation is possible, no problem but be honest with yourself…
- Press the pause button before saying yes automatically. Take a moment to ask yourself if you really have the time and energy to do what you are being asked to do.
- Get to the gym. You bought that membership – do you use it? Gyms offer so many opportunities for healthy body movement these days – not just weight-lifting and treadmills. Try a new class, go for a swim, join a basketball league.
- Walk barefoot on the earth. It’s really good for you. Walk in the grass or on the sand with no shoes as often as possible.
- Look for opportunities to laugh. Comedy radio or tv. Hang out with funny people. Seek the humor in all things.
- Try acupuncture. Research indicates it is very effective in reducing stress and aiding with many health issues.
- Slow down. Build in buffer time so you can move from activity to activity or issue to issue with pauses in between.
- Start a gratitude journal. Make it a habit at the end of each day to reflect on what small or large parts of your life you can feel grateful.
- Practice dropping your tongue away from the roof of your mouth and notice how it relaxes the jaw. Notice how often you clench your jaw.
- Love an animal. Animals help open our hearts. Take time to nurture and care for a pet or volunteer at the Humane Society.
- Clean out a closet, drawer or cabinet each week until your house or office is spic and span and well organized. You’ll feel lighter.
- Plant flowers and notice them often.
- Start an herb garden in your kitchen window. Use fresh herbs when you cook. The flavors are wonderful and often good for health.
- Learn how to use essential oils in everyday life. Aromatherapy is good for mood and a natural alternative to many of the chemical laden products.
- Care for your skin with castile soap, baking soda, witch hazel and coconut oil. Save money and nurture your skin naturally.
- Set firm and loving boundaries with others. Respect your own time, space and emotions. Don’t let others run all over you.
- Clean out your refrigerator at the end of every month. Get rid of expired items and wash down the surfaces. You’ll feel so much better with this simple routine.
- Catch up on your “I love you”s. Reach out to people you haven’t spoken to in a while and tell them how much you appreciate them. Loving others is a way of loving yourself.
- Put indoor plants in every room of your house and office and take good care of them. In turn they will clean the air you breathe.
- Floss your teeth daily. This little task so often neglected can really help with your health and prevent painful, expensive dental issues down the road. Love your gums.
- When you witness someone saying degrading, derogatory or deprecating things about others, speak up by pointing out the positive and the beauty. Shining light where there is darkness will expand your spirit.
- Learn to meditate and meditate daily. Just 10 minutes each day over the course of a year will transform you in wonderful ways.
- Read Wherever You Go There You Are by Jon Kabbat-Zinn and do the little exercises after each chapter. It will change your life for the better.
- If you feel sad, let yourself cry. Breathe into the sadness and don’t hold your breath.
- If you feel angry, go for a brisk walk and swing your arms while you feel your anger. The bilateral stimulation of the body and brain helps even out the emotions in a healthy way.
- Go to counseling. Counseling is a place to process what you are unclear about and feel supported and often guided when you’re lost.
- Reconnect with your spiritual path. Regardless of religion or tradition, reaching out and reaching inward to what you believe in can be a wonderful way of caring for yourself.
- Give away clothing and items you no longer wear or use to a local shelter or charity. It will help you lighten your material load and provide for someone in need.
- Hire a life/wellness coach to help you get clear on specific goals, learn some new tools and skills and create accountability for yourself.
- Spend time with little children. Get down on the floor and let them remind you how to play. Rediscover your inner child.
- Repaint a room in your house or office. Bring in some color. Refresh, renew!
- Bring fresh-cut flowers into your home and/or office regularly. It will remind you to appreciate the beauty and the delicacy of life now.
- Light a candle. This is a ritual observed for centuries in every spiritual tradition. It is a ritual that signifies a beginning, an opening, a special and/or sacred moment.
- Write love letters. Each week write a letter by hand expressing your appreciation and love for those closest to you. Not only will it be good for YOUR heart but it will provide a keepsake and treasure for your loved ones.
- Collect your personal memoirs. Start keeping a journal recounting memories from your own childhood, youth, and adulthood experiences bit by bit. It’s a way of honoring yourself.
- Don’t overextend your schedule. Leave “white space” on your calendar for unprogrammed, unplanned, spontaneous experiences.
- Take up an expressive art form: pottery, painting, drawing, knitting… it’s meditative and good for the soul to create…
- Take walks in nature often. Connect with the trees, mountains, beach…
- Create an affirming filter through which you run all decisions: “Today I choose to love myself, respect myself and honor myself body,mind and spirit.” Through this filter, all actions will ensure you are caring for self.
Here’s to a new year dedicated to caring for your whole Self…