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Self-care: indulgence or essential?

Self-care: indulgence or essential?

Many of us have been brought up with the idea that taking care of ourselves in any way but the most basic healthy eating and exercise is selfish. We should think of others first. We should take care of our kids, our community, our church, our friends, our coworkers, our pets before indulging ourselves. The list of priorities goes on and on. Where do we put taking care of ourselves? Self-care often winds up at the very end of the list…the place where we never arrive.

What we really need are what Nikisha Brunson, co-founder of Urban Bush Babes describes as “everyday healthy rituals that help keep your body and mind energized.” For one person it might mean spending an hour each day knitting, for another reading, for yet another a soothing bubble bath. Each of us is different except for that one outstanding issue: we need to care for ourselves to maintain the energy we need to care for others.

Yoga Class Self-CareSelf-care is not just for the self-indulgent “women who do lunch.” It is for every one of us. It is crucial to finding peace of mind and to finding what is needed within ourselves to give back in this uncertain and often scary world.

Self-care is especially important in times of grief. It is easy to bury oneself in the details that crop up when you have experienced a loss. The following exercises are excerpted from Griefwork: Healing from Loss by Fran Zamore, LISW, IMFT, and Esther R.A. Leutenberg. They are applicable to all of us, whether we are experiencing a loss or just experiencing our day-to-day life.

Are you doing enough for yourself? Download “Self-care Domains” and keep it handy. During the next couple of weeks fill in what you do for yourself in each of the five domains: Physical, spiritual, social, emotional, and intellectual. You will find that many activities are applicable to more than one domain.

Here are some examples:

Going to exercise class

  • Physical because it is good for my body and my health
  • Social because I have friends and/or acquaintances in the class
  • Emotional because I release some anger and/or frustration when I exercise

Walking/hiking

  • Physical because of health benefits
  • Spiritual because I walk in nature and find that to be my spiritual connection
  • Emotional because walking is a stress-buster for me

Self-Care Man ReadingReading

  • Intellectual because I’m stimulating my brain by thinking
  • Social because I go to a book discussion group
  • Emotional because I’m reading escape novels
  • Spiritual because I’m reading uplifting book

At the end of two weeks, review what you have entered in the self-care domains. Make an effort to add new things in areas you’ve neglected.

Self-Care Exercises

WAYS TO NOURISH (OR CARE FOR) MYSELF (Download here)

Check ‘nourishments’ that you would be willing to commit to do in the next month.

On the blank lines at the end add some of your own activities. Get involved in something new.

  • do a craft or hobby
  • write in a journal
  • exercise
  • call a friend
  • meditate
  • take a long warm bath & light a candle
  • go to a place of worship
  • listen to music
  • go to a movie, even if I cry
  • read
  • go to a museum
  • work in the garden
  • care for a pet
  • volunteer
  • __________________________ __________________________
  • __________________________ __________________________
  • __________________________ __________________________
  • __________________________ __________________________
  • __________________________ __________________________

Journal about your self-care. Remember you are writing for yourself. Don’t worry about spelling, sentence structure, and the like. Just write your thoughts as they come to you. Refer to this entry when you are feeling guilty for taking time for yourself.

Self-Care Man Hiking

LEISURE (Download here)

Leisure or recreational activities serve many healthful purposes, including self-care. Some can be intellectually stimulating and some promote socialization. Others are healthful because they are a physical outlet. Still others may provide a needed spiritual dimension.

ACTIVITY SUGGESTIONS:

Accomplish something…bicycle to the store

Be alone…meditate

Be a spectator…go to a sporting event or concert

Be sociable…accept an invitation to a social gathering

Be spiritually uplifted…take a walk in the park or go to a house of worship

Compete in a sport you like

Continue to learn…take an adult learning class for credit or audit

Exercise alone…walk on a treadmill at home or go for a walk in nature

Exercise with others…ask a close friend to go with you

Keep emotionally stimulated…discuss issues openly with trusted friends / family

Keep mentally stimulated…do crossword puzzles, play Jeopardy

Keep physically stimulated…join a health club

Relax…take some sunscreen, a magazine, and sit outside

Return to a hobby from the past…find an old train collection in the attic and set it up

Be creative…participate in arts, crafts, knitting, sewing, writing

Journal about your self-care. Remember you are writing for yourself. Don’t worry about spelling, sentence structure, and the like. Just write your thoughts as they come to you. Refer to your list when you are at a loss for something to do just for yourself.

Using Poetry to Explore Thoughts and Feelings

Creating a Healthy Balanced Life WorkbookPoetry exercises excerpted from Creating a Healthy Balanced Life

By Sandra K. Negley, MTRS, CTRS and Ester Leutenberg

Looking for an interesting way to lead your clients as they explore their thoughts and feelings? Something different and introspective? Try poetry.

Poetic Thoughts and Feelings – exploring through poetry

One creative way to explore thoughts and feelings is through the writing of poetry. Don’t worry, this does not mean a person has to be a great poet or writer to have fun with this unique and ancient art form. The key is to be open, enjoy, explore, and look soulfully at one’s deeper thoughts and feelings. Writing poetry can assist a person to focus thoughts, stop circular thinking, and begin to look at life from a different perspective. A variety of creative writing techniques will work with most people and most ages; here are four styles to initiate participants’ creative thinking.

Technique #1

Haiku is a unique ancient Japanese style of writing that uses 17 syllables divided into 3 lines of 5, 7 and 5 syllables.

River inspiring poetryExample:

River flows gently

Water moves sand and rock

Forgiveness begins

 

Technique #2

Five-line poetry while similar to Haiku is less restrictive and for some allows a more creative exploration.

Title of Topic (1-word) Describe Topic (2 words) Action Occurring (3-words) Feelings—how it makes you feel (4-words) Summary (1-word)

Example:

Friendship

Honesty, acceptance

Evolving through time

Creating more fulfilled experiences

Forever

 

Technique #3

Pass Around Poem

A fun exercise in poetry writing can come from a less threatening approach that lends itself to creative and critical thought. This opens the door for participants to have interesting and inquisitive discussions on the coincidences in life.

Poetry book and notebookInstructions: Distribute one poetry book, a pen, and one piece of paper to each participant. Instruct participants that when you say, “start” they will follow this process:

  1. Close your eyes
  2. Open the book
  3. Place one finger on a spot in the book
  4. Open your eyes
  5. Write a line of poetry from where your finger landed (one line)
  6. Give participants an example

The facilitator gives participants 30 seconds and then says “pass.” Participants will pass their book to the right and repeat the process. The number of lines of the poem will be determined by the number of participants. (Keep in mind some people may need more time than others, waiting can be unsettling and/or break the magic with boredom. Consider facilitating with smaller groups.)

 

Technique #4

An I Am Poem can be used as an introspective exercise for participants to increase self-awareness while also connecting with other members of the group. The I Am Poem is a creative way to also teach and explore current issues, science, art, and conceptual thoughts. There are two ways to approach this form of writing:

Form One — Instruct the participants that to write this poem only requires one instruction; each line of the poem must start with “I am . . .” The poem can be as long as they choose and reflect as much about themselves as they would like to share. The poem may include such things as gender, ethnicity, interests, family traditions, mottos, memories, or future goals. Encourage participants to be creative in defining who they are and how they express themselves. Remind them that it does not have to rhyme.

Example Format:

I am a woman

I am multidimensional

I am strong and industrious

I am vulnerable and emotional

I am an advocate for individuals with disabilities

I am a listener

I am a mother, grandmother, teacher, friend

I am a woman

 

Form Two — This poem follows a more directed and structured format. Begin with the I am statement — two characteristics of the person. This statement can be repeated throughout the poem as a line opener and then repeated as the last line of the poem. The writer can have as many stanzas to their poem as they choose. As the facilitator, you can prepare a format for participants or you can list a variety of suggestions and let participants develop their own format.

Example Format:

I am (characteristics of the person)

I wonder (something the person or thing could think or be curious about)

I hear

I see

I dream

I am (If you wish repeat first line of the poem, every 4-5 statements)

I fear

I love

I understand

I hope

I am (end poem with this line)

Additional Suggestions

I care                     I feel                      I want                     I touch

I pretend               I respect                I cry                       I laugh

I worry                   I unfold                  I release               I forgive

I say                        I hope                    I honor

Leigh Anne Jasheway telling jokes

But I Don’t Want to Embarrass Myself! Or I Won’t Play That Game

Pushing People Past
Their Comfort Zone to Play Games
Without Pushing Their Buttons

Excerpted from Are You Playing with Me?
By Leigh Ann Jasheway

Solumn woman sitting

It must be her stays!

In an earlier blog,  we talked about how reluctant some people can be in being playful. It may not be their nature. Or a light heart may be something that is frowned upon in their department or their profession. If someone asked me to sit quietly without cracking a smile for an hour, I’d feel very uncomfortable (actually, I’d probably find it impossible), so every time I ask someone to step outside their usual boundaries, I try to conjure up a picture of myself sitting in a chair silently. And then I try not to laugh at the idea.

When it comes to playful activities, there are four types of people. People who:

1. Are not done being a child and need no encouragement to be silly and childlike;
2. Can be coaxed into playfulness fairly easily if everyone else is doing it;
3. May have forgotten how to play and will need a lot of convincing; and
4. Never feel comfortable showing or even admitting they have a playful side. You may be able to get them to sit at the table, but they’ll probably stare at you or have an “emergency phone call” they have to take.

Adults playing together during an Icebreaker.

You can coax or cajole the first three types into participating, but with the resisters, all you can do is hope they eventually feel compelled to join in due to peer pressure. Here are my favorite ways to get audiences involved in activities that may be outside their usual comfort zone:

  • Make it clear that yours will not be a staid lecture. From the title, to the description, to the handouts, to the nametags, incorporate playfulness and fun so that no one will be shocked when they get there.
  • Create a playful environment by arranging the room for fun – the closer the better, semi-circles instead of straight lines, and tables so they can make eye contact with one another. Also set the mood with props and lighting. I like to use strings of light shaped like flamingos or chili peppers. Seeing fun lights automatically says “Hey, this could be different!”
  • Get a feeling about the group and how supportive or distant they are by arriving early for networking or a meal. Set the tone with your own playful attitude. Joke and laugh with them before the actual presentation. This reduces their inhibitions, puts them in a more jovial mood, and reinforces that your presentation will probably be non-traditional.
  • Write your own introduction and make it funny, highlighting some of the more playful aspects of your own personality. I use things like:

–She has an M.P.H., which either stand for Masters of Public Health or Mistress of Public                humor.
–When she’s not speaking or writing, she wrangles wiener dog at her ranch.
–In a previous lifetime, she’s sure she left the iron on.

Use fun music to start and end your session, or to mark breaks.adult with hula hoop

Near the beginning of your presentation, highlight the productivity, creativity, team building, health, emotional, stress managing, or other benefits of what you’ll be asking them to do. This will address the concern of the more reticent people of the “reason” they should be involved.

Build love and support into the group and activities; discourage meanness disguised as playfulness. I usually tell my groups what things are off-limits, such as making fun of people, using sarcasm instead of humor, saying anything they wouldn’t want their boss or mother to hear, etc. You may also want to use this funny Carmen Miranda Rights statement.Carmen_Mir

Carmen Miranda Rights: You have the right to remain silent. You will probably not have as much fun or learn as much, but it is your right to sit quietly and observe until such time as you are ready to be part of the merriment.

As long as you aren’t a bully and don’t hurt anyone else while playing, nothing you say (or do) can or will be used against you in your workplace.

You have the right to a play coach. That is why I’m here – to encourage and inspire you to get in touch with your less serious side so that you can take a breather from the problems of your day and your life.

You also have the right to wear fruit on your head. (See cartoon above.)

Deal with people’s fears and concerns. One way to do this is to have them name them right up front. Make a list on a flip-chart under the heading, “Why I’m scared to play” or “Reasons my funny bone is broken.” It helps when people hear that they aren’t the only ones concerned about something. And if they can laugh at their fears together, it creates the kind of bonding that helps throughout their experience.

  • Keep a variety of games and fun activities in your toolbox so that you can pick things that are most likely to work for the group you face.
  • Give lots of praise and applause. It is amazing what people will do if you encourage them simply with recognition.

Forming groups

Once you set the stage for playfulness and fun, you will find that many of the games in this book require you to break down a large audience into smaller, manageable groups. This can cause a lot of trainers and speakers problems – how do you get the people from the same departments to spread out and meet new people? It can feel a lot like dealing with junior high school cliques when you’re faced with an audience who is most comfortable staying with the people they know best.

There are many easy and fun ways to form new groups. You can break them into teams by:

  • Color of shoes or socks.Different colored socks
  • Natural hair color.
  • Which of the following cartoons they like the most: Garfield, Charlie Brown, B.C., The Simpsons, South Park, Opus, none of the above.
  • Listing five barnyard animals (cow, sheep, chicken, pig, farm cat). Have them choose one, make that kind of noise, close their eyes and wander about until they find the rest of their herd or flock.
  • Using a quickie questionnaire with questions you can use throughout the day to break into different groups:
    —What’s your favorite color?
    —Paper or plastic?
    —How many children were in your family?
    —What’s your major hobby?
    —If you were a tree, what kind would you be?
    —Name your favorite ice cream.
    —What kind of dog did you grow up with? Or was it a cat?
    —Which type of music do you prefer?
    —Favorite cereal as a child?
    —Etc.
  • Having them play Rock/Paper/Scissors and putting all the rocks, all the papers, all the scissors together in groups.rock paper scissors
  • Players reach out and touch someone. Everyone closes their eyes and walks around until you say stop. Then they reach out hands (eyes still closed) until they find the right number of hands for the group.
  • Using toys. Have as many different types of toys as you want groups and have each person choose one. Their toy represents their group.
  • There is no end to the methods you can use to divide people up into smaller groups, although I don’t recommend sawing them in half. Just make it fun and quick and everything will flow from there.
Are you playing with me

Enjoy this blog? Try the book.

Leigh Anne Jasheway

Author Leigh Anne Jasheway

 

Don't Get Mad Get Funny

Another great book by Leigh Anne Jasheway