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Monday, February 02, 2009

Make Self-Care a Priority


Somehow many of us have decided that self-care is something that should come last in our lives. Perhaps it has to do with the messages that we received when we were young about not being selfish. Self-care isn't about being selfish; it is about loving ourselves enough to make our well-being a priority. If contributing to and taking care of others is important to us, then our self-care is vital. If all we do is give and give, eventually we will give out.

Here are some suggestions for making self-care a priority in your life:

Schedule it in. If it is written down or in the palm pilot, the chances are greater that it will happen. Schedule at least one self-care item a week, more if you can. This can be a massage, facial, or just some time alone. By scheduling it in, we are making our self-care and ourselves a priority.

Realize that self-care is not a luxury. It is a necessity. The more frazzled and stressed we are, the less we can contribute to the other people and our tasks. Self-care helps us maintain a sense of balance. When we put ourselves first and do what we need to do to stay healthy and vibrant, we have more to give to other people and tasks.

Make self-care a habit. We all have habits. Habits are things we do automatically without much thought. By making self-care a habit, we will do it without much stress or fuss. When self-care becomes a habit, the level of stress will decrease and life will become more balanced as a result.

I was reading an article in a health magazine about a program that was set up for caregivers of family members stricken with Alzheimer's disease. This program provides relief for the caregiver by scheduling a day off and some much needed rest and relaxation. The statistics for those who care for family members with Alzheimer's are startling. Often they will become sick and have a high incident of heart attack and stroke because of the stress and demand of caring for their loved one. With just a little reprieve, the caregiver is better able to care for their family member and stay healthy himself or herself.

Self-care is not about being selfish. It is about self-love. The ironic thing about it is the more we love ourselves and take care of ourselves, the more we are able to love and care for others. We cannot give from an empty cup. If all we do is give and give without replenishing our energy supply, we will eventually give out. If we want to be around to take care of the ones we care about, taking care of ourselves is a top priority.

One of my coaches told me that I had mastered the art of self-care. Indeed, I have become very good at it. I believe my mastery is the result of the years I neglected myself and put everyone else first. My experience taught me that doing that just doesn't work. I have learned the hard way how important it is to put my well-being and myself first.

Take time this week to schedule time for self care. This can be anything you want it to be. Self-care is different for everyone. For some, it might be a round of golf, for others it might be an hour in the library. Whatever it takes to renew and replenish your mind, body and spirit.

"Love as if you liked yourself, and it may happen." Marge Piercy

"Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world." Lucille Ball

"The man who treasures his friends is usually solid gold himself." Marjorie Holmes


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