“Love yourself first, and everything else falls in line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” -Lucille Ball
Winter is coming. It’s the most Wonderful time of the year, according to the classic tune of Andy Williams. The upcoming months are filled with holiday cheer, hot cocoa, family, traditions, felicitous christmas lights, Home Alone, and Jingle Bell Rock…
But also bitter coldness, shoveling piles of snow, scraping ice off our cars, and trying to remember what Summer felt like. For those of you who live in a colder climate such as Kansas, you know exactly how difficult the Winter months can be, and how they impact all facets of our life. I often struggle leaving my warm, snuggly bed, nonetheless my house.
That is why is it even more crucial for us to prioritize Self Care and our own well-being. Consider the following areas in your own self care, and remember that Self Care is NOT selfish!
Optimal sleep for an adult is 7-9 hours per night that results in feeling rested and refreshed. In some RARE cases people have been reported to operate on 4 hours plus 4-15 min naps per day. This is rare! Prolonged sleep deprivation can result in hallucinations and radically unhealthy behavior. It can also indicate mental illness.
Rest must also be in safe place devoid of electronic or sonic disturbance. The brain is always on, and sleep is like resting at idle (like a car) after hours of running at higher operating speeds. Too much sleep can create lethargy and also be a sign of significant mental disorder.
The human body is engineered to work efficiently and it works best with consistent utilization. The cardiovascular system can be taxed (exercised greater than 40 minutes @ 60-80% Maximum Heart Rate) up to six times per week for optimal health, with a minimum of 3 times per week.
Food & Water
The food and water that we intake is very important to the function of our body, brain and minds. Food is an extensive subject and carries many different implications for our human being. Water: 8 -8oz glasses per day of water is required for humans. Additionally 8oz for each 15 minutes of vigorous work is also a standard recommendation. A balance of nutrition and content is important. There are many good resources to reference beyond the scope of this paper.
“We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.: – Virginia Satir
Loving touch is the human contact that means the most to you. Some research indicates that we are healthiest with 10 hugs per day. Let your awareness of your self be your guide. Affection and sexual intercourse is part of this dynamic.
Comfort + Calm
“Your breathing is your greatest friend. Return to it in all your troubles and you will find comfort and guidance.” -Unknown
Like sleep for the body, calm, is for the mind. It is a respite that allows one to retreat from anxious tasks to activities that allow creativity to flow. Yoga, intimate friendships/partners and mindfulness exercises can be examples of calm and comfort. Calm indicates an absence of threat. Safety; whether it be physical, emotional or social is imperative to calm. Relationships and physical space can be built to a state of safety and is crucial to have for times of stress and trouble that come in life.
Awareness & Anxiety
Awareness of your physical, mental and emotional state is essential to care for your being. Understanding what ‘triggers’ you into states of anxiety. Learning how to regulate and soothe the arousal caused by certain triggers is essential.
Response & Flexibility
“Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we respond.” –Chuck Swindoll
Inflexibility can be an indicator of imbalance. Awareness of one’s flexibility is crucial to knowing when supporting activities are needed to restore us to a state where we are reasonably flexible. “Flexibility is a sign of emotional maturity.” Dr. Bowen White, M.D.
The primary human emotions are ANGER, FEAR, SHAME, HURT/PAIN, SADNESS AND DISGUST. They are important indicators of our perceptions of our environment. They cannot be allowed to dominate a person’s life or they will create imbalance and DIS-ease (caps intentional). They must be countered with LOVE, JOY & PEACE.
Being aware of exposure to and ‘ingestion’ of uncomfortable emotions allows one to pursue a balance to the emotional system. In addition to SELF CARE, service to others has been shown to expand a person’s purview beyond themselves, and help with emotional balance. Service is a proven modality for addressing some stages of grief.
“The Journey for a thousand miles starts with one footstep.” -Ancient Proverb
Given this wisdom one does not have to be perfect. The human being is consistently in growth and change*. Therefore comparison or judgment is not helpful, only assessment for growth. Remember to be compassionate towards yourself to combat any negativity when we start to beat ourselves up. So, be encouraged and start where you are now. Look for the growth. It is sometimes helpful to chronicle or record your sense to the above factors in your life. It provides ‘data’ to compare and learn from.
“Growing into your future with health and grace and beauty doesn’t have to take all your time. It rather requires a dedication to caring for yourself as if you were rare and precious, which you are, and regarding all life around you as equally so, which it is.” ― Victoria Moran
What do you think about your own self care? Is it more difficult for you during the cold, winter months? Where do you do well? Where do you struggle? What’s an intention or a goal you would like to set for self care? Let me know in the comments below