Did situations in 2017 make it absolutely clear that your self care needs to be much higher on your priority list ?
Are you ready and willing but aren’t sure where to start?
Have you made a resolution to take better care of yourself but are bogged down by memories of failed resolution attempts in the past?
Stumbling Through The Dark
I can tell you emphatically that I have been there. After many years of stumbling in the dark, countless trials and errors, I’ve learned some key things that have helped me maintain my resolutions through many ups and downs, in a sort of cruise control state.
The Rich Rewards of Regular Self Care
Some of the accruing benefits from making self care a regular part of my life, particularly my mornings, is that I approach my days with more presence, purpose, clarity and efficacy
No longer do I…
- flail about my day fighting the mental fog from having only done the bare essentials to get myself to work
- have headaches mid morning from no breakfast
- self medicate with junk food midday
- trudge through the afternoon food coma to get things done
- collapse to bed that night.
- say yes to every request that comes my way
- dwell in resentment and exhaustion from having given my all to everyone
Most of all no more meltdowns from trying to surf the self made chaos of not giving myself the time I need to prioritize, plan and fuel up heart, mind and body for my day.
To say the least, having extended various kindnesses to myself first, I have more quality attention to offer all that crosses my path and it only gets better with time.
Save Yourself The Time
While I will tell you wholeheartedly that the decades spent trying to figure it out were absolutely worth it, you shouldn’t have to wait for decades to reach this cruise control state with self care habits.
As a mom, wife, volunteer, employee and blogger that’s navigated through sicknesses, vacations, pregnancy, hosting guests, unemployment, traveling abroad for months at a time, mourning deaths of people I love, the holidays and all around growing pains, if I’ve been able to keep my self care resolutions for over 15 years now, you can to.
My Top 6 Self Care Resolution Mistakes
Without further ado, here are my top 6 mistakes in self care resolutions
Mistake #1: Not Seeing a Resolution as Eventually Becoming a Habit
At first I approached resolutions as this huge feat of personal transformation that I needed to work myself up into an ultra determined state of mind and willpower to carry out. In my mind they were supposed to be attempts at big change and if they weren’t then they were not resolutions.
So for example as a full-time college student deciding to go 100% raw in the cold Midwest month of January when I can’t afford all the equipment much less afford the time to prepare the meals was, a tad naive to say the least
I don’t know about you but I don’t live in a bubble where I have the luxury to exercise all my focus, time and energy on one thing. I’m an average person whose will and attention are diverted every day by my job, managing my budget, running errands, doing laundry, maintaining relationships etc.
Do This Instead:
See a self care resolution as the young stage of an eventual lifetime habit. Approach it with the intention of weaving it into the fabric of your everyday life. Big huge efforts towards change are not sustainable but mustering up the commitment and diligence to carry out one daily act is.
Because the focus is on nurturing a specific habit, the intimidation of changing our life is broken down into a manageable size. From That point it’s more likely to be sustained long enough for it to tightly weave into the fabric of our daily rhythms as seamlessly as the act of brushing our teeth.
Mistake #2: Not Reviewing My Life
You may have heard me say this before but it’s important enough that I’ll say it again, not doing a life review is like going to the grocery store without an item list. Approaching your attempts at self care resolutions with only a vague idea of what exactly you want to change and why it’s important, usually ends up with half cooked results.
Do This Instead:
When your tempted to be distracted from your resolutions, having clarity on two very critical things will fortify you with the conviction needed to reel your attention back, they are 1) clarity on the act itself that your trying to carry out and 2) why it’s important to you. A life review helps get clear on these two foundational understandings, once they are in place, the rest is supplementary.
I do a 4 step life review process every year that has helped me pinpoint what changes I want to make. It’s made up of 4 worksheets that you can download for free below.
They will help you to:
- get clear on what areas of your life are draining
- get clear on what you prefer in those areas and why
- let go of the things holding you back
- target what acts you can schedule into your life to make those “preferences” a reality .
Mistake #3 : Adopt Self Care Ideas Without Customizing Them
Taking self care ideas from the plethora of lists online because they sounded good is fine but here’s the thing, typical resolution ideas like “be happier, healthier and more confident” don’t translate into changing your behavior. That’s really where the rubber meets the road.
Your life as it is now, is a result of all your accumulated acts up until this point. To have your life look different 365 days from today, at least some of those acts need to be replaced with new ones.
Do This Instead:
Take some time to sit down with pen and paper and ask yourself what you want more of and what doable acts…not ideas, would most help you bring that into fruition.
Example: A self care idea of listening to happy music in the morning may catch your eye, but perhaps you actually need something a little more aggressive to get you moving out of bed in the way you want or perhaps your healing from a heartbreak and need music that soothes you into your day. The idea is to customize it to what you need and to know what you need, time spent in reflection is paramount, like in a life review ,wink wink.
Mistake #4: Not Anticipating Predictable Detours
In the past I would throw myself into a resolution and think it’s all about muscle. So If I was aiming to workout 5 days of the week at the gym and on the 17th day of my gym streak Im invited to a party of someone I care about, I would have this approach of accepting defeat and resigning to my weakness. I knew that the late night and getting up early for work the next day would wipe out the possibility of working out that afternoon.
The loaded judgment of seeing myself as being weak cornered me into giving up on the resolution altogether
Do This Instead:
If you have tried self care resolutions in the past, then if you really take a minute to reflect, you’re likely to notice patterns in what kinds of situations often derailed you.
Get paper and pen and recall what happened the last time you tried to carry out a self care resolution? Was it…
- Social events that had you come home late and interrupt your still young resolution momentum?
- Were you assigned an extra project at work and drop the resolution down a notch on the list of priorities?
- Did you get sick like you usually do in the dead of winter and drop many things including your resolution?
Reflect and anticipate that these will probably happen again, they are out of our control for the most part. Avoid judgment, simply be honest, note and anticipate them happening again.
Mistake #5: Did Not Create Detour Plans
When I would judge and get down on myself for “being weak” I would dwell in my disappointment which left little room for brainstorming solutions. Badgering myself for another disappointment only further delayed my attempts to learn from it and try again.
Do This Instead:
Unplanned events that disrupt the usual flow of our weekly schedule will not stop happening but we can prepare by making a detour self care plan in advance .
Take a moment to anticipate what likely and predictable things are on the horizon of the next few months for you. A string of birthdays within weeks? a particularly busy season at your job? An annual trip across the country to visit family? Create a plan B and even better, C and D so you can alter your resolution slightly but not stop it all together.
If you will be taking a trip out of town and have a daily exercise resolution, why not research nearby gyms or research exercises that you can do without equipment like burpees?
You have a resolution to eat healthy and stop emotional eating and have a big work meeting scheduled with certain people that stress you out. In the past the stress is so much that you self medicate with large amounts of ice cream after work. What if you prepared for yourself stress supplements to take before the meeting and a healthy sweet snack after the meeting, along with a scheduled massage to treat yourself with straight after work?
You could also download my free self care cards for social situations here
The idea is to stay flexible, open and no matter what, continue your act of self care even if its slightly altered.
Mistake #6: Kept My Environment the Same
This is a big one. In the past I would vow to not eat junk food yet not make the connection that having the the crinkly wrapped sweets within arms reach is not going to work. Changing habits is hard enough without my own self sabotage.
Do This Instead:
Take stock of what things in your environment you can change around to support you
Ask yourself how you can set up your environment to make it as easy as possible for you to act on your new self care habits
Are there objects that will
- remind you of why your resolution is important to you?
- provide alternatives to the usual unhealthy options your replacing?
- serve as supplies needed for your new habit such as a yoga mat for yoga, or leave out a bowl with a spoon on your kitchen table before you sleep to remind yourself to eat breakfast before leaving for work ?
Did you know that setting up an environment to influence your behavior is a science that corporations spend billions on research towards ? Here is a post for you on just how powerfully our environment influences us and how you can use this knowledge
Once I was able to figure out these pitfalls and change my plans accordingly, following through on my self care resolution until it habitualized’ was much easier, because that’s the trick isn’t it? It’s not so much taking the time to do it once, but it’s the rearranging and detour management needed to continue it regularly until your able to move past having to think about it at all.
I hope sharing with you my mistakes will help save you time and effort in making self care a number one priority in your life for 2018.
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Sending you love, a reminder to take care of yourself and a big thank you for stopping by!