Get Into Your Self-Nurturing Groove
Do you tend to give of yourself more often than you allow yourself to receive? When you hear the word nurturing, do you think of it as a gift that you give to others? Is it hard for you to take time out and give yourself some tender loving care? Do you feel guilty just thinking of the notion of nurturing yourself?
Be honest with yourself. There’s no need to feel ashamed. It’s a pretty common mindset in our busy-busy culture, especially for women, for parents, and for those who are caregivers of any sort.
When you think about it logically, you understand that you won’t have as much to give if you never allow your own cup to be filled. If you wait until you’re exhausted, sick, or burned out to take time for yourself, you’re causing harm to a precious child of the Universe – you. And you’re risking that you’ll collapse, and won’t be any good to anyone until you recover.
Putting self-care into regular practice can feel overwhelming and impossible.
Getting into the flow of regular self-care involves a certain mindset, and the good news is, you can develop that mindset. The first step is believing that you deserve to be nurtured. The voice of the ever-present inner critic points you toward lack – all the things you haven’t done, or haven’t done well enough, your flaws, your problems, your lack of time.
The real truth is that you deserve love and nurturing simply by virtue of being.
That can be a big leap, though, so let’s start smaller. Turn your view of yourself and what you do around. Make a list of all the good things about yourself. Start with the things you do in any given week. The work you do for money, the care you give to your kids or parents or partner, housework, dog walking, volunteering, calls to friends, cooking, car maintenance or repairs – all of it! As you get comfortable with the exercise, start to add the things you like about yourself. The way your hair looks after a shower, your singing voice, your kind smile, how you’re so awesome at coming up with solutions to problems, your flair with a paintbrush. Add to the list until it feels substantial.
Now read it back, and imagine that you’re a stranger, being described to you by their deeds and positive qualities.
Wouldn’t you feel like that person deserves to be nurtured and treated well for the amazing contributions they offer the world every day?
That’s you, my friend!
Now it’s time for another list. This time, brainstorm a bunch of things that you love to do, that fill you up and renew you. It might include reading a novel, taking a sunset walk, going to the beach, meditating, playing with a coloring book and brightly colored pencils, laughing with a friend, petting your cat. Your list will be unique to you. Keep writing until you can’t come up with any more ideas.
The next step is to schedule these things into your regular routine. Let’s start with weekly. Grab your calendar and put in a date with yourself, at least one hour per week for the next month.
If part of you still balks at this, ease yourself in. I have a friend who only feels good about her self-care when it accomplishes something else she considers productive. Get your self-care to multi-task; going for a walk is nurturing, which also involves exercise, and perhaps your dog friend could use some time outdoors. Gathering friends to make greeting cards is creative and nurturing, and you won’t have to buy birthday cards for a while. You have to shop for groceries anyway, why not go by yourself and make it a date? You’ll need to eat, so take yourself to a cafe and bring along a book you’ve been wanting to read.
Get the idea?
It’s okay to trick yourself into self-nurturing, especially when you’re just getting started.
The final step in the process is to make self-care a regular thing. After your month of weekly self-nurturing, think back on how it has affected you. How do you feel after each date with yourself? Has your stress level gone down? Did your guilt lessen as you filled up your cup? Do you feel just a bit less tired? Keep a journal or notebook where you jot down the things you’ve done and how you feel afterwards. Evaluate your results, and then make a commitment to how you’ll continue.
Maybe you’re not convinced yet. You could just need to give it more time. Stay at the level of once per week, scheduled into your calendar. Or perhaps you’re already feeling the benefits, and you want more. Try putting self-care into your calendar twice every week for the next month or two.
If you’ve gotten really into it, you might want to find something you can do every day! Ten minutes of meditation in the morning, an evening walk, or heading to bed early so you can read or journal for half an hour. You decide.
The key is to begin cultivating the habit of nurturing yourself, and to allow yourself to reap the benefits. Happy self-nurturing!