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Taking Care of Yourself

Can you relate?  Waking up each day with an endless list of to-dos—each one a priority and deserving of our time and attention.  We push through the day, doing the best we can, and when we finally stop at the end of the day, we are exhausted on all levels—physically, mentally, emotionally, and maybe even spiritually.  These are the days that I need to remind myself of who I am and give myself some extra support.  The strategies below have been helpful in fostering my sense of well-being even on those hard days.  

  1.  Examine the relationship you have with yourself. Having a healthy relationship with yourself looks like understanding and loving who you are.  This is more than your professional life and the roles you perform each day.  Take away all these external variables and who are you?  Do you accept this person?  Can you celebrate the whole you, not just the parts that are successful or validated by others?  In order to have a healthy relationship with ourselves, we need to practice self-compassion, a topic that I am very passionate about.  Psychotherapist Lauren Mackler states, “A critical component for having a healthy relationship with yourself is self-compassion,” she says. “People are hard on themselves, feel bad about themselves. They think they’re not good enough.” When you let go of your self-judgments, you will find you enjoy your own company more. Check out 12 Keys To A Great Self-Relationship, Starting Now | Psychology Today 
  2. Alone time. Take some intentional alone time, even if it’s 5-10 minutes a day.  This time does not need to be long or even advertised to others, but rather a “space” for you to connect with yourself.  Remind yourself why you are spending some time alone.  Perhaps you practice gratitude during this time, maybe you process a joyful or difficult situation, or maybe you get to engage in something that you enjoy without the worry of other people’s expectations and needs. Check out The Benefits of Alone Time – Talkspace and How Important Is Alone Time for Mental Health? (verywellmind.com) 
  3. Breathing. Intentional breathing allows you to get out of your head and connect with your body. When we take a few moments to practice some deep breathing, we are allowing more air to flow into our body, thus helping with anxiety, stress, attention, and pain. One of my favorite breathing exercises is paced breathing, consciously inhaling and exhaling according to a set rhythm. Here are some links for further reading about the importance of intentional breathing: Deep Breathing Benefits and How-To | Right as Rain (uwmedicine.org), How Your Breath Controls Your Mood and Attention – Mindful, How to Fight Stress with Intentional Breathing – Mindful 
  4. Celebrate the “small successes” each day. According to Drs. Benjamin and Sarah Cheyette, our brains are built with a negativity bias; we remember the problems and the failures more easily than the positives and successes. We must be intentional about pausing and noticing these positive steps, no matter how small we might think they are. Read Why It’s Important to Celebrate Small Successes | Psychology Today 
  5. Practicing gratitude. This simple practice can have significant positive impacts on your mood, your health and your relationships (both with yourself and with others).  I understand the skepticism some might have regarding the positive effects of practicing gratitude, however, there is a ton of research in this area, the neuroscience of gratitude.  I am including some of these links below. You can practice gratitude in several different ways:  keeping a gratitude journal, saying what you are grateful for to your partner or close friend, or even while looking at yourself in a mirror, speak your gratitude out loud. Read more at Small Acts of Generosity and the Neuroscience of Gratitude | Psychology Today, The Neuroscience Behind Gratitude: How Does Cultivating Appreciation Affect Your Brain? (chopra.com), and  How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain (berkeley.edu) 

 

Life is beautiful and dark, simple and challenging, full of joy and sorrow.  When we are able to love and invest in ourselves, celebrate the small victories on our journey, and express daily gratitude, we can show up for ourselves and others, as well as help maintain the best version of ourselves.   

This is just a small list of ideas.  I would love to hear how you take care of yourself! 

Alison Curtis, MS, LPC provides individual, couple and family therapy in our Sterling, VA office and virtually to those located in the State of Virginia. Call or email today to set up your first appointment or a complimentary consultation with Alison!