The Importance of Self-love

I came across this quote by Kim McMillen:

“When I loved myself, I began leaving whatever wasn’t healthy. This meant people, jobs, my own beliefs and habits. My judgement called it disloyal. Now I see it as self-loving.” – Kim McMillen

How many times do we fail to see our value? Perhaps we have been in a job or relationship so long, we feel worn away. Perhaps we feel that to leave it means we have failed.

I love the line “My judgement called it disloyal; now I see it as self-loving,” as it implies that in order to stay, we have compromised or misread our value system; the truth it would seem, was found within.

I then came across a poem entitled “Self Love” by Lang Leav – it sums up perfectly what I am attempting to convey:

Self Love

Once when I was running, from all that haunted me: to the dark I was succumbing – to what hurt unbearably.

Searching for the one thing, that would set my sad soul free.

In time, I stumbled upon it, an inner calm and peace; and now I am beginning to see and to believe, in who I am becoming – and all that I’ve yet to be. – Lang Leav

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Self-Care During the Holidays

Christmas time can bring us many things to be thankful for – time spent with family and friends, social functions at work or in our community and extra kids’ activities. The lead up to the holidays; however, can be a time when we put ourselves on the back burner. Here are some holiday self-care tips that we can incorporate into the Christmas season:

  • Find some time in the evening to cozy in on the couch and watch a favourite Christmas movie.
  • Take a drive to enjoy holiday lights.
  • Give yourself permission to say no if you begin to feel the need to simply rejuvenate at home.
  • Enjoy the scents of the season with pine scented candles or candy cane hand cream.
  • Set aside time to continue your usual exercise routine.
  • Indulge in some favourite foods; especially ones that remind you of childhood Christmases.
  • Lean into the traditions of the holidays for some feel good moments.
  • Remind yourself of the four D’s (delegate, defer, delete or do it) – no reason why other family members can’t help you wrap gifts!
  • Climb into some cozy holiday pyjamas and enjoy some mulled cider or hot chocolate.
  • Create a Christmas play list with your favourite holiday tunes.

By purposefully planning some time to enjoy the holiday season, we take care of ourselves with meaningful experiences that promote our sense of well-being.

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Photo credit: http://Photo by David Angel on Unsplash

Self-Care for a Rainy Day

This time of year often brings rainy days and we can find ourselves in the house, feeling a bit cranky that the weather has predicted our day. With little control over the weather, perhaps we can turn a rainy day can into an opportunity for self-care:

  • Cuddle up on the couch with blankets, loved ones, popcorn and a feel-good movie.
  • Bake a favourite recipe; focusing on comfort food.
  • Write a letter to someone – the old fashioned way.
  • Have a home spa day – candles, a warm bath, pedicure.
  • Enjoy a warm drink while sitting down to read a book.
  • Research vacation ideas.
  • Visit memory lane by looking through old photo albums.
  • Go to a cafe, sit by the window, enjoy the sound and look of rain.
  • Laugh with re-runs of a funny TV program.
  • Indulge and take an afternoon nap.

Although rainy days have the potential to make us feel blue, we can proactively change our inner climate by focusing on the cozy and feeding our comfort system. What are some things that you like to do on a rainy day?

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Photo credit: http://Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash

A Colour On Your Calendar

I sat with a new mom in session. Her baby was about 4 months old; into a nice routine and able to start bringing her to baby-oriented activities in the community. She was happy to be a new mom, and yet also experiencing some adjustments – including some inner resentment she was feeling towards her husband who was starting his hockey night out every week and was due soon to go hunting for a few days. She noted that she didn’t want to have these feelings.

When we become a new mom, we add that to who we are in terms of our self-identity. And in the first few months of the baby’s life, there is little room for anything else. The baby’s needs take primacy and we quickly realize that our schedule has now been trumped. And that is a necessary reality in the first few months.

Our roles as parents; however,  are not meant to be all-or-nothing in terms of our identity – the goal, rather, is to integrate who we are as parents into who we are as people. Now that the baby was four months old, and a tad more predictable, this couple was making sure to have a date night once a month, she was beginning to attend baby groups a couple of times a week, and her husband had resumed some of his interests. And so I asked her “Where is your colour on the calendar?”

Part of the answer to that question will likely come from guilt – I think “Mommy guilt” comes built in – part of it will also come from feeling protective of the baby. All natural feelings, it is still okay to give ourselves permission to have our own space on the calendar. To set some time aside for ourselves, leaving our baby in capable hands, so that we attend our yoga class, have coffee with a friend, plan some girl-time.

Doing so will help to alleviate built up feelings, provide some re-charge time, integrate self-care into our new role and create some healthy habits along the way. 🙂

Photo credit: http://Photo by The Honest Company on Unsplash

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Self-Care Ideas for the Fall

One word that always comes to mind in the midst of the Fall season is cozy. One of the things that is a part of my self-care routine is carving out time to read….in the summer, I love my three season porch as it allows me to feel the evening breeze and hear the sounds of outside. In the fall, I find myself curled up in my armchair, with the fireplace on – cozy. 🙂

Self-care is something to aspire to every day, all year round. As we immerse ourselves into the beauty of this season, here are some specific Fall self-care ideas:

  • – Go through your summer wardrobe. If you didn’t wear it, donate it to charity.
  • – Write down some things about this season that you are grateful for.
  • – Cook some traditional fall dishes; bake with pumpkin and spice.
  •  Enjoy a walk outside with Fall colours.
  •  Visit an apple orchard or a pumpkin farm.
  •  Light a fall scented candle.
  • Pull out the Fall scented hand creams.
  • Go for a drive in the mountains.
  • Take a Fall crafting class.
  • Enjoy a pumpkin latte with a friend.
  • Buy yourself a cozy new sweater or blanket.
  • Write down a “Fall Bucket List.”
  • Create some positive affirmations about the changing of the seasons.
  • Read a book by the cozy fireplace.

As you can see, there are many ways that we can incorporate Fall self-care ideas into this season. Have any others? Feel free to share by way of commenting!

Photo credit: http://Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

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Let’s ask the question “Is Self-Care Selfish?”

I often hear in therapy that “self-care feels selfish.” One of the things we explore when first hearing this statement surrounds a person’s understanding of why they feel that way.

If we tend to be someone who self-sacrifices or is a people-pleaser, self-care does not come naturally. Hence, the feeling that we are being selfish. Other times our busy lives dictate this feeling. Running around with little kids, having a commitment laden job, or trying to manage work and home life can sometimes throw time for yourself on the back burner. Giving any thought to self-care feels self-absorbed.Perhaps growing up we didn’t witness our own parents pursuing a personal interest or spending time on their own with friends. Self-care? What the heck was that?

Self-care is not about self-preoccupation.  In fact, when we ascribe to self-care practices, we allow ourselves to better take care of those we love. When we have the ability to first recognize and then begin to practice the art of balanced self-care, we have more calm energy. We have spent some time purposely feeding our comfort system. This leaves us less frazzled, less overwhelmed, less crabby. We have a better us to present to our family and friends.

Self-care is not selfish, is it an act of love that we choose not only for ourselves, but for those we love as well. 🙂

Photo credit: http://Photo by Haley Powers on Unsplash

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Friends Are Good for the Soul

I will say this until I am blue in the face – “Friends are the ultimate gift in self-care.”

This past weekend, I had my annual girls weekend with three of my high school friends.  Spanning 29 years of friendship and living in four different areas, we have, in connection, raised our children together. For us, this weekend away is about nourishing our comfort system. We eat good food, drink good wine, laugh until we cry, and create memories that are unique to that experience.

The setting was The Opinicon Resort in Chaffey’s Lock, Ontario for a ReTreat Yourself getaway. The 1950’s vibe to the place gave us a feeling of stepping back in time while the backdrop of nestled cabins tucked into rolling hills and the still calm of Opinicon Lake brought us the peaceful feeling we all need. We signed up for workshops, completed a little “amazing race” type challenge, sat outside our cute little cabin and soaked up the sun. The food was amazing, the dance was awesome, the surroundings were lovely. But most importantly, we caught up, we laughed, we connected.  Friends are the ultimate gift in self-care. 

Photo credit: Me!

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Little Bits of Self-Care

Sometimes I have to send an attachment email from my home account to my work account. In the text portion of the email, I greet myself with “Hello Beautiful!” I kind of forget I do it, and then I am greeted with a lovely sentiment when I open the email 🙂

When we think of self-care, our first thoughts often go to a day at the spa, or an afternoon off. Although that is a necessary part of our regime of self-care and acts as a healthy escape, we can also have bits of self-care that add up during our day:

  •  listening to music when making a meal
  • taking a 10 minute walk at lunch outside
  • pay it forward at the drive through
  • unplugging for your first 30 minutes home (you won’t miss it!)
  • dancing in the kitchen with your kids
  • plan a lunch with a colleague
  • listening to a funny podcast when driving
  • snuggles on the couch with your pet
  • jotting down a gratitude thought
  • holding hands with your spouse when you are both falling asleep
  • leaving yourself a love note 🙂

When we consciously focus on our comfort system in little ways, we feel better supported. Our tanks have less of a tendency to reach their tipping point and those bits of self-care help to bridge us over to our next day at the spa 🙂

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The Concept of a Healthy Escape

The tendency to avoid is part of our human nature. When we are experiencing a challenge in our lives that come with tough emotions, we may lean into trying to sidestep them altogether. Avoidance can come in many forms including shutting ourselves off from our feelings, throwing ourselves into work, isolating ourselves from others; it may result in using external means to soothe, such as overeating or having that extra glass of wine. In any case, you may have gotten temporary relief from the feeling, but the issue has not go away; the emotion needs to be processed in order to experience resolution, acceptance and growth. 

But what happens when the feeling becomes overwhelming? Or it is not a convenient time in that moment to have the emotion? Or the process is just going to take a long time? That is when the concept of healthy escape comes into play. Healthy escapes are planned and they can range from taking a time-out from the immediate situation, to engaging in a distraction activity, to an intentional outing; even a planned holiday constitutes a healthy escape.

Challenges in our lives and the tough emotions that naturally accompany them are inevitable but there is a big difference between running away and a healthy escape; one leans into avoidance and the other, into process. When we are consciously aware of the choice, we lean into our sense of agency, creating resilience and strength.

Photo credit: http://Photo by Simon Rae on Unsplash

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The Importance of Self-Care

When life gets busy and overwhelming, we can easily put ourselves on the back burner.  We may find excuses as to why our planned walk isn’t necessary, or meeting with a friend this week “will have to wait.”  A few days of this is tolerable and sometimes necessary, but if it becomes  more of a constant than not, we begin to feel depleted. In our busy lives, it often feels overwhelming to think of possibly fitting some self-care into our day and yet it is also a vital way to build and restore energy. It is also one of the number one ways we reduce stress, and therefore, anxiety.

Optimal self-care is daily; it begins by recognizing the things that bring us peace and building from there. This can include anything from a warm bath at the end of your day, to 20 minutes of reading, a walk with the dog, watching a favourite show, playing a board game, sitting with a friend for coffee. Setting the goal of daily self-care is the first step; tailoring it to fit you will make it sustainable. Try at first to give yourself even 10 minutes of “you time “a day; it will become a healthy habit you will never want to break 😊

Photo credit: http://Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash