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What is “Self Care” and How You Can Succeed at Better Self Care in 2017

We are already 10 days into a new year. Did you make one or more self-improvement resolutions? If so, what efforts have you been making toward those resolutions? Are you already losing steam or becoming discouraged?  Resolutions can easily fall apart without specific, actionable, consistent and realistic goals and without strong commitment, motivation, and consistency.

Many people resolve to take care of themselves better in some way; to get healthier, more organized, to save more and spend less. These are common resolutions and they are potential ways you can take better care of yourself. What do I really mean when I mention “self care?” Simply put, “self care” is your own actions that maintain your optimal physical, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual health. Emphasis on “your own actions;” meaning it is what steps you take that help you take good care of yourself, health, and well-being.

What ways might you want to take better care of yourself in 2017 and how can you be successful? First, I suggest that you take an inventory of your physical, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual health status currently. Is there one or more areas that you would like to improve? If there are many areas that you would like to improve, is there one or two that are most important to you? For example, perhaps you want to work on your mental health; you would like a more positive mindset, or perhaps finally seek out psychotherapy for anxiety or depression. Perhaps you want to work on your emotional health by being more kind and compassionate to yourself or by managing your anger. Maybe you would like to build friendships or be a better, more consistently involved friend. Maybe you would like to start a meditation or daily gratitude practice as part of your emotional/mental/spiritual health. Of course there’s the perennial favorite physical health goals to eat healthier and lose weight; or perhaps you haven’t seen a doctor or dentist for preventive checks in a long while. Perhaps 2017 is the year to schedule those check-ups. I suggest that you focus on one or two primary self care goals….too many changes at once may be harder to accomplish and lower your chance of success.

Once you have settled on one or two key goals, then I suggest that you ask yourself “why?” Why do you want to make this change? What do you hope will happen if you are successful at making this change? I encourage you to deeply and honestly explore why you want to make the change so that you are sure you really really want it. Why answer why?  Because you are going to need a strong emotional attachment to your goal in order to stay motivated to do the hard, consistent effort day in and day out to get to your goal. Without a strong and positive emotional attachment to the results you want, you are likely to lose steam, slack off, become discouraged, poop out….you get the idea. Change is hard and we are creatures of habit; old habits die hard and new habits take consistent action to create and maintain. The consistent effort necessary to meet your goal will require your motivation and commitment. Your positive emotions about achieving what you want become the “desire fuel” for the fire of your consistent actions. Think hard about what you want. How will you feel if you achieve it? Really imagine yourself in the future with the change you created; how does that feel?

Lastly, you will need to break down that self care goal for which you have a strong desire into specific actions.

. What will you do and when will you do it? Let’s say that you want to be a better friend. How might that translate into consistent actions you could take? Perhaps you put your friends’ birthdays into your calendar and remind yourself to send a card, or text or call them on their birthdays. Perhaps you set a reminder for yourself to contact one friend each week to say hello, see how they are doing, and/or schedule a date to spend time together. Maybe you want to exercise more. Again, this goal needs to become specific and actionable. Exercise more may mean you are committing to go to the gym three times each week, or go for a run or walk four times per week, or both! Or perhaps the specific action will be that you schedule one hour each morning for exercise and vary the activity. Maybe you want to start a meditation or gratitude practice. Perhaps you commit to fifteen minutes each morning or before bed. Perhaps you start using an app or a journal each day. Think of some way you can measure success by whether or not you completed an action and at what frequency.

For an extra bonus, in order to keep your desire that is fueling your motivation strong, remind yourself daily of your “why.” Remind yourself daily why your goal is so important to you and how you will feel achieving it. This will help you renew your commitment to yourself and your healthy life each day.

To taking good care of yourself in 2017!



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