The other night I woke up in the middle of the night and there was one thought on my mind. Any idea what worry might have been woken me out of my sleep? My self-care. Not what I would have expected either. It is kind of ironic to WAKE up worrying about your self-care (i.e., self-care would be sleeping soundly through the night), but I did indeed wake up and worry about this. I think it just hit me right then the importance of taking care of myself - I am not getting any younger, you know. And I have a lot of upcoming added responsibilities, so this is all imperative. I responded by getting out of bed (I couldn't sleep anyway) and in the middle of the night I went down to my computer and started typing out my self-care plan. It is far from completion, but a big part of that is TIME OFF! I mapped out all my time-off from my full-time job until the end of the year. I also started to think about little things that will relax me more. For instance, my home office was a complete and absolute MESS. Every time I set foot in here, I would tense up and think, "How on earth did it get like this?!" Last night I cleaned it, put a nice lamp on my desk so I don't have bright overhead lights, and breathed a sigh of relief. It is so nice now even as I type this to know that I am no longer working in so much chaos. I also reset some of my satellite music stations in my car. Now I include the spa station, which I will try to listen to at some point of every day. I still have a lot more to plan, but now I have a start. I am going to write a little every day, read a little, and try to work on working out more.
Why is this self-care important?
Wellness and balance are critical to who you are - your home life, your family, you, and your career. Balance doesn't always mean an equal ratio of what you do - like 50% home and 50% work, but that appropriate combination for you and your family. I work a lot, so for me spacing out time off at my full-time job is essential. I am returning from one vacation on Tuesday and I need to know when the next one will be. I have to take time off every other month. That is just what is best for me.
Some important steps to self-care from Russell-Chapin & Ivey (2004):
Rule #1: Clarify Your Values & Personal Expectations:
It is essential you purposefully understand the why, how, and impact of the personal choices you make. This also involves understanding these choices will make you a healthier person. I have to start thinking more about this when those Oreos are calling.
Rule #2: Understand Your Personal Locus of Control:
Rotter (1973) talked about our Locus of Control (LOC) as the ability and belief about how much control we have over the events around us. External LOC means you believe others’ opinions and influence, chance, and fate determine your destiny. Internal LOC means your own choices mainly determine your life and actions. Rotter believed that we need both internal and external LOC. He felt we need to have a ratio of three to one internal control to external control in order to have the skills necessary for healthy decision making. The more internally controlled you are, the easier responsible living will be. But remember you need some external control - some things are beyond our control. I am working on this as well - evaluating is this something I can do anything about, and sometimes letting certain things GO.
Rule #3: Seek Understanding of These Personal Choices for Yourself:
Examine the needed dimensions of wellness and your choices within each category:
Physical Health – Good or optimistic perceptions about physical health correlate positively with greater levels of actual physical activity. If you don’t have your physical health, overall wellness is often more difficult to obtain. But this is not the biggest predictor of overall wellness. This is an area I need to work on. I will be buying more healthy meals for when I am away from home and trying to walk up those stairs more.
Emotional Well-Being – Being secure with who you are, the emotions you allow yourself to have, and your stated values are essential elements in overall wellness. Two major elements are important, strong self-esteem and positive regard for who you are. Positive self-esteem is correlated to internal locus of control, physical activity, and a principle centeredness. I am usually pretty solid on this one.
Intellectual Enrichment – Your perception of just the right amount (not too much/too little) of intellectually stimulating information. I have this one down.
Life Work Satisfaction –
Passion and satisfaction for all your life entails. Got this one.
Social Effectiveness –
Is one of the two areas that holds the highest predictive weight for overall wellness! Social support is positively correlated with physical and psychological well-being. It is the need for a strong social network of friends and family. It is so important to have and provide support to yourself and others. I have a good support network. Sometimes I just have to work on reaching out to them more.
Spiritual Awareness –
This is the other area that holds the highest predictive weight for overall wellness! A healthy spiritual life is associated with better physical and psychological health outcomes and overall well-being. This involves the positive perception and belief that every life has purpose, meaning, and significance. I am growing in this area, but I can do more.
Rule #4: Repeat and Share These Same Steps and Processes with Those Significant Others in Your Social System:
We learn and use things more successfully when we share with others. This also provides us with a feedback loop - we get feedback on how are we doing. This is what I am doing here - I need to keep myself accountable for self-care and revisit it periodically which is why I am posting about it. But really everyone could use improved self-care, so maybe this gets others thinking about it.
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