Simple Strategies for Self-Care

Think you don’t have the time or money to pamper yourself? Not to worry… I want to share some ways I squeeze in inexpensive “quickies” to nurture myself. Utilize 5-15 minute increments sprinkled throughout the day to take care of yourself while taking care of everything and everyone else.

  1. Flavor your coffee with fancy creamer BEFORE the rest of the family awakes. Read something uplifting or humorous to start the day on a positive note.
  2. If your children are jumping on that last nerve, put yourself in time out. For 3-5 minutes breathe deeply then hum a happy tune.
  3. Bathe young children during the day. While they’re playing in the water, read a novel or catch up on your favorite blogs on a laptop/smart phone right there in the bathroom.  It’s also an excellent opportunity for a facial scrub/mask or to paint fingernails (one thin coat of light iridescent pink dries fast and chips are less noticeable).
  4. Utilize kids’ nap time for craft projects, a good movie, or a nap yourself. Resist the urge to do chores. Resting IS productive.
  5. Time/childcare permitting, make a date with yourself. Spend an hour or two visiting the library, coffee shop, salon, or art galleries-whatever you enjoy.
  6. Monitor and eliminate negative self-talk. Speak kindly to yourself. Challenges are just opportunities to find another way.
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Real woman Mommie Kate

Each day, be good to yourself. You’re worth it! Today’s author is Mommie Kate who offers tips and encouragement for busy moms at Practical Faith for Everyday Life.

Call for a Self-Care Revolution

Self-care should be a revolution – it’s an idea so basic that many people, especially women don’t even think to take the time or make an effort to be a “cult of one,” to take care of themselves first.

Real woman author of today’s post, Mollee Bauer of pregnancy.org

That’s where this self-care challenge comes in.  Day one’s challenge of chanting the mantra, “Taking care of me benefits others I love,” sounds simple and it should be in theory. But we tend to clutter our lives with complications and excuses.

I take this mantra to heart lately. I can’t do anything if I spend all my time catering to others. Doing so would affect my business and personal life. By meditating, exercising and eating right, I know that I am on my way to being the best I can be at any given moment. I make sure I take care of myself and fuel my engine.

Making self-care a part of my daily life ensures that I am ready to take on any challenge that I need to deal with. Each tip is a valuable pearl of wisdom that allows me to pamper and take care of myself in ways I never thought of.

At Pregnancy.org, we’re in a similar business. We give women the tools they need to not only empower themselves, to feel safe and secure but also advice on how to take care of themselves, pamper themselves, check in with themselves to make sure they have the tools necessary to meet each of their challenges along the way.

Healthy Relationships: A Must for Self-Care

Cultivating healthy relationships and eliminating harmful ones is essential to proper self-care.  Whether it’s with a spouse, child, parent, sibling, friend or co-worker, a healthy relationship is one that is characterized by RESPECT- for us and the other person.

This includes:

  1. Courtesy – Be polite. Follow through. Be on time. Avoid shouting, insults, nagging, and manipulation.
  2. Boundaries- It’s okay to set limits, to say “no,” and to expect respect. Honor the other’s personal limits as well.
  3. Personal safety- Violence is NEVER justified or okay. Everyone has a right to be safe from physical and/or emotional abuse.
  4. Honesty- Deception and lies hurt both parties.  The truth always comes to light. Trust is easy to keep but almost impossible to repair.
  5. Clear communication- Say what you mean. Don’t expect others to read your mind. If you are unsure about what someone means, ask questions.
  6. Realistic expectations- Consider the other person’s role and the limits of that role.  Don’t expect the same intimacy from co-workers as spouses.  Even if the other person doesn’t like what’s said, we are each responsible for our own happiness.
  7. Flexibility and understanding- Plans change. People disappoint. Life is a moving target.  Learn to adapt and adjust.
  8. Grace- No one is perfect. Sometimes we have to forgive and overlook shortcomings.  Other times, we must ask for forgiveness.

Mommie Kate

Good relationships (including with ourselves) are treasures. They must be nurtured.  Make time for them. Cherish them. Enjoy them.

Today’s author is Mommie Kate.  Visit her at http://faith4moms.blogspot.com/.

Belated Valentine’s Wishes

Totally forgot about V-Day until last week’s post was done. Since this month’s theme is healthy relationships, here’s what poet e.e.cummings says about love.

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)

i fear
no fate(for you are my fate, my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

But who is he referring to?  A lover, spouse, child, parent or cherished friend?  Those we hold most dear in our lives who remain with us in spirit wherever they are.  What is most important is that we are loving towards our loved ones even when we feel angry, frustrated, disappointed, or unhappy with something they’ve done.  This is what is meant by unconditional love.

Wayne Dyer recounts how he and his wife decided after having the same fight over and over, “It is more important to be kind than be right”.  Let’s keep that in mind in all our relationships, carrying each other’s hearts gently with the utmost care.

It’s Okay to Speak Up, Really (Part 2)

Last week, we posted the first three aspects of assertive communication: 1)speak openly, honestly and directly; 2)state thoughts and feelings without becoming defensive; and 3)be courteous and respectful.  Here are the next four steps.

  1.  Exercise timing.  Discuss important matters at a time which is good for all involved.  Discussions late at night when your partner’s tired or first thing in the morning before they’re fully awake, is not recommended.   Make certain you each have the attention and energy for a constructive conversation.
  2. Make clear requests.  If there’s something you want, ask for it.  Don’t expect others to read your mind.  Relationship problems often occur when we don’t take responsibility for expressing our needs.  Real intimacy is being able to say what’s on your mind.
  3. Speak from your heart.  Make your intention to have a “confiding” conversation even if you feel angry or hurt.  Use “I” statements like “I felt angry when I thought you weren’t listening.”  Don’t blame or demean the other person.  This sets the tone for them to do the same.   Whatever they do, practice assertive communication.
  4. Provide clarification.  If the receiver doesn’t understand what’s said, offer clarification or restate it.  However, even when things are stated clearly, it doesn’t mean that’s how they’ll be heard.  Each of us filters what we hear through the lens with which we see the world.

While the goal of assertive communication is to better understand each other, its success is not gaurunteed.  Still, it is up to us to create the opportunity for this to occur by communicating assertively.

It’s Okay to Speak Up, Really (Part 1)

Last Wednesday Susan from Working Moms Against Guilt posted about having difficult conversations with loved ones instead of an uncensored “snarkfest” brought on by repeatedly withdrawing from confrontation.  Sound familiar?  Most of my female friends and clients describe struggling with this because “nice girls” don’t make waves and depend on approval to feel good.

This week, I’m offering some guidelines for assertive not aggressive communication to help with this challenging practice.  Remember,  it’s important to be open and direct about both positive and negative emotions because love and praise often go unspoken too.

  1. Be assertive.  Speak openly, honestly and directly. Don’t be passive: beat around the bush, shut down, stop listening or withdraw.  Don’t be aggressive: yell, blame, belittle the other person or fight to be right.  Express yourself fully and listen openly to what the other has to say.
  2. State your thoughts and feelings openly, honestly, and clearly.  If you perceive the other person is not understanding what you are saying, try again.  Remain calm, centered and non-defensive.  Help them lower their guard so they can hear you fully and accurately.
  3. Be courteous and respectful.  Pay attention.  Stop doing other things (TV, computer, etc).  Make eye contact.  If you disagree with what they say or their perception of what you’ve said, let them know openly and directly but don’t attack them.  Give and expect respect.

These suggestions foster open, honest, assertive communication.  They set the tone for a win-win situation.  Practice with someone you trust first.  Next week, Part 2 of what to do.

Advice From a Reformed Conflict Avoider

I tend to avoid the hard stuff in relationships. If an issue is painful or difficult to address, I find a way around it. I don’t like conflict, and being the typical busy working mom, I can justify putting off “special talks” with loved ones because I don’t have time.

Sound familiar? If you’re a time-crunched, conflict avoider like me, take a moment and ask yourself, ” Is this really working?”   Because, it sure as hell wasn’t  for me.   I was so resentful of my husband’s lack of help around the house and with the kids, yet I didn’t want to discuss it (other than the offhand snarky comment). Too much risk of bringing up painful issues. Too hard to figure out workable solutions.

Until the day I thought I was going to lose it. Then came the break-down-bawling fest (me) and the deer-in-the-headlights, what-did-I-do? look (him). When we finally talked—putting all our cards on the table—we were able to address the underlying issues and find ways to deal with them. It also led to more such talks, solutions and frequent check-ins with each other. I can’t say our marriage is perfect, but things are much better between us now.

Real Mom Susan

Your most valued relationships deserve the time and energy to make things right. Give yourself and your loved one the gift of an open, honest discussion and  you’ll  both feel better.

Today’s author is Susan Wenner Jackson, cofounder of Working Moms Against Guilt. http://www.workingmomsagainstguilt.com/