Oops I did it again — planned a three-part series that then grew into a four-part series. Such is life in the blogging fast lane.
Over the last two weeks I’ve written about the relationship between emotional intelligence and self care, why self care is important, and why so many of us have a hard time actually doing what we know is right.
For today’s post, I’d like to write about getting back on track with self care. Or getting on the track in the first place, as the case may be.
1) Regular readers know I’m a big fan of making lists, so that has to be my first suggestion. Take a blank piece of paper. Across the top, write these four headings: Diet, Exercise, Sleep, Stress Reduction.
2) On the first line below each heading, somehow rate how well you’re doing. You might use a star system (four stars for excellent, one star for not so great); a letter system (A to D); or even a simple S (for satisfactory) or U (for unsatisfactory). Choose one that doesn’t feel super judgmental to you.
3) Now beneath the rating, write three ways that you’re either doing well or not doing so well. Under diet, for instance, you could write: a) Getting enough calcium; b) not getting quite enough produce; c) definitely eating too much saturated fat. Or under Stress Reduction, you might write: a) meet with friends often; b) haven’t cashed in yoga class gift certificate; c) never meditate. Something along those lines.
4) And now beneath those three reasons, write a short note about why you’re doing well or not doing well. For instance, under Stress Reduction, you might write, “I can’t figure out any time to do yoga or meditate. Every morning I wake up and have to get the kids ready for school. Then I go to work. Then I come home and make dinner and do housework. There’s no time for me.” Or, under exercise, you might write, “I don’t want to be seen in exercise clothes. I just feel too fat and clumsy.”
5) Your final note? Imagine you are a personal trainer, dietician, or life coach looking at your list. Think carefully about what you see there. Then write out what you think you need to get started in each area. Be practical. Be kind. But be inspired, too.
The point of this exercise isn’t to grade yourself or in any way beat up on yourself, by the way. It’s to help you see not only where you are in your self care routines, but why you’re there. It’s also meant to help you draw on what you already know about self care simply from living in a culture where people talk about this stuff all the time. In other words, you become the one who knows what you need — and why.