Mastering self care is all about knowing yourself and what you need. The more we learn about ourselves the more we can start to develop a self care plan that gets results. Try following these steps to work to learn more about yourself and become an expert in mastering self care.
1. Master Self Care By Identifying Your Feelings
There is a common misconception that self care is one specific thing or activity. In reality, there are a bazillion ways to take care of ourselves. When we start thinking about self care differently, we realize that it is dependent upon our what we need in the moment. Instead of thinking of self care first, we should analyze our current feelings and needs. It is helpful to get an accurate understanding of how we can best take care of ourselves and master self care.
Before we dive right into assessing our needs, it is important to first consider how we are feeling. Feelings and needs are two different things. We may feel stressed out and therefore need to take a break. Most of the time our needs are heavily influenced and dictated by our feelings. Its important to understand and articulate our emotions to get to the real roots of our needs.
A good way to start to identify your feelings is to spend some time with yourself listening to both your mind and your body. We all have emotional feelings and physical feelings. While these often overlap, sometimes we are experiencing a very specific feeling. Once we really understand all of the things that we are feeling, we can figure out what we truly need.
2. Self-Assess Your Needs
After identifying your feelings, you can then start to discern your needs. Think about what your feelings are telling you. Often the answer is within your reach. For example, if you identified feeling “exhausted” then that may indicate that you need rest or a break. Depending on your situation and your feelings, your needs may be different from day to day.
Allowing your feelings to determine your needs will help honor and nurture what your mind and body are telling you. A good way to make this connection is to use the following formula. “I am feeling __________ so I need __________.”
Remember, just like feelings are different than needs, needs are different than actions. Self-assessing our needs will help us get closer to determining a self care prescription. It helps us know what actions we need to put in place to help us master self care.
3. Master Self Care By Knowing Your Limits
Unfortunately, self-assessing our needs does not always guarantee a solid successful outcome. Actually getting these needs met requires us to have certain energy, space, capacity, and resources. Oftentimes we know what we need but we get stuck on not being able to do anything about it.
Life has it’s limitations and it’s not always accommodating. Maybe we have worked to determine that we feel exhausted, and thus need to take a break. However we may be in a situation where we have no choice but to be alert and focused at work. This poses a conundrum and often leads us to believe that we cannot take good care of ourselves. .
The key to overcoming this feeling of defeat is to rework your self care practice to be more in line with our actual current situation. Maybe you cannot take a break the way you initially had hoped, but are there any viable alternatives? What about mindful journaling? Is there any way that you can alleviate this feeling of exhaustion in any tangible way? Being realistic and open to finding some sort of solution to master self care. No matter how small, will help you feel more in control.
4. Brainstorming Solutions
Once we know our feelings and needs, we can start to plan our act of self care. It is so important to understand self care as a practice that is designed specifically from and tailored to our actual needs. Otherwise we end up trying out lots of different self care strategies that may or may not help. When self care is not actually helpful in getting our needs met, it starts to become frivolous, unnecessary, and time consuming. Who has time, energy, or capacity for self care just for the sake of self care? It has to serve a need.
Self care is a intervention to help get our needs met. Using the previous example, if we are feeling exhausted and we have determined we need to rest, then self care is how we make that rest happen. Adding to the formula, it now becomes ” I am feeling _________, I need ________, so I will __________.
5. Master Self Care By Making It Make Sense
When you start to think of self care this way, it should start to make sense. Recognizing self care as a specific intervention tailored to help you get your needs met creates a sense of purpose and importance. You will be much more likely to find the time, energy, and space needed to practice self care when it has been assigned a purpose in your life.
While there is some value in spontaneity, most of the time we desire purpose and craft our actions around things that we deem important and essential. This is why it is so important to recognize and articulate the specific outcomes and benefits of our self care practices. Going along with the example, allowing yourself to take a nap with the intention of meeting your identified need for rest is much more palatable than just taking a nap in the middle of your busy day with no tied purpose.
Putting It All Together
Working through all of these steps will help you become more confident in mastering your self care. Once you can make the connection of practicing self care as a means of nurturing and attending to your feelings and needs, you will start to feel empowered to keep looking for ways to enhance and build a healthy self care practice.
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