I have found that when I ask someone how they take care of themselves, they are often baffled by the question. I’ll usually hear an answer that sounds something like, “Well I don’t know, I try to eat well sometimes, and I workout when I can and I try to sleep.”
I’ve also had people literally laugh at me when I ask them about their self-care plan.
I touched on this in the previous article, but it is so important I want to comment on it again. In the past, the idea of self-care seemed like a luxury or something that you didn’t NEED. But let’s consider that.
Why would taking care of yourself be a luxury?
Don’t you think it’s crucial to your survival?
If you don’t take care of yourself, who will?
And for those who feel like they don’t need it, what do you think will happen if you don’t take care of your physical and mental health?
There’s a silly stigma around self-improvement, but regardless of your feelings on self-care, we are all experiencing something we’ve never had to deal with before - a global pandemic! Going through our day maintaining the same routine and using the same coping skills we had before COVID and expecting to feel as fulfilled as we did before COVID is unrealistic.
Life is about adapting as situations arise.
MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL CARE
According to the Health Coach Institute, the number one reason people experience mental and emotional stress is based on their beliefs.
Let’s unpack that.
We all operate with a subconscious belief system. Some of our beliefs can generate internal pressure that increases our stress when we’re faced with certain situations (and can really damage our entire life experience). The problem is, we are often not even aware of what our beliefs are; they’re just operating in the background, guiding our reactions and behavior.
For example, some people might believe it’s rude to leave food on their plate, or others might believe if they don’t get everything done right away they are a failure. Taking the time to understand what you believe and seeing how that belief relates to your COVID experience can alleviate some of the negative side effects of the stress you might be feeling lately.
Common challenges such as lack of confidence, perfectionism, loss of meaning or purpose, or poor communication skills have a lot to do with how we view ourselves. These challenges can lead to a poor personal perception. But, by becoming aware of any of these tendencies we can start to change our experience.
This is how beliefs work: Beliefs become ingrained in us from the day we’re born, thanks to the influence of our parents, caregivers, environment, and culture. These beliefs affect our behavior by creating thoughts about what’s going on around us, which generate different feelings, sometimes positive, sometimes negative. Our behaviors are guided by our beliefs and create our identity. So really, our personalities and temperaments are based around our beliefs.
Still with me here?
In order to help you build your own personal self-care plan I encourage you to fill out the worksheet attached at the bottom of the article. The purpose of this worksheet is to try to help you identify your beliefs, recognize how you behave or how you think around these beliefs, and then I encourage you to GET CURIOUS.
Ask yourself about why you believe what you do about your health, self-worth, future, anything!
And then ask how you can change your thinking to honor your needs better.
For example, if you believe it’s not safe for you to be around your family now because of COVID, you might notice you feel a lot of sadness, loneliness, or depression around that belief. But a possible new belief or thought pattern could be to accept it’s not safe to be around your family BUT you can still get as creative as possible to try and find ways to connect with them anyways (write each other letters, do a scavenger hunt or virtual game night, park your cars next to each other and talk on the phone - you’ve got options!).
This process of re-framing your whole belief system isn’t going to happen overnight. Accept that it takes time to change and that honestly, you don’t have a lot of other options if you want to survive this pandemic with less stress. Yes, it will require extra effort to connect with people remotely and stay safe, but if that’s what it’ll take to help you take care of yourself, isn’t it worth it?
Just keep taking one small step at a time!
Click here for your self-care worksheet: BELIEFS BEHAVIOR + STRESS