NOVEMBER NEWSLETTER: “SELF CARE”
HELLO, AND WELCOME TO MY NOVEMBER NEWSLETTER.
I’m Susan Regan, and today, I’m talking about “self care.”
I’m speaking to those of you, who are working on being better in your daily life.
BEING BETTER IN YOUR DAILY LIFE:
I know that self-care may seem overrated and overused — and might seem like something that everybody is always giving you advice about, like: do more self-care; that’s what you need… more self-care. That’s why you’re fatigued; that’s why you’re in a bad mood or that’s why you can’t get anything done.
Well, it’s really true… I know that whenever I make a seismic shift, or even just get through some of my days, that the only way I can do it is with lots of self-care weaved into it. And self-care can be many, many different things.
When we have kids (and I don’t know if everybody who’s listening to this has kids, so perhaps just think about yourself when you were a kid), part of the reason why we learn routines is to learn self-regulation so that we learn how to: feed ourselves; how to sleep; how to regulate ourselves throughout the day; how to go from fast energy to slow energy; how we pace; and how we encourage ourselves. All of this is the model of self-care.
If in your childhood, you didn’t get a good model of self-care, you’re probably going to really struggle with it in your adulthood. So, just hone into that and be empathetic and compassionate about whatever part of self-regulation is tough for you — and know that though it is a hard pattern to break, but if you work on that specific part of your self-regulation that’s struggling (whether it’s time management, eating well, going to sleep, or exercising), that it will be your learning focus — that is, how you can build some format, some structure, some strength, in that part of your life.
A self-care exercise (a very common one that I give to my clients) is to list about ten things that you do that make you feel really good about yourself. One real key about self-care is that if we don’t do the things that we say we’re going to do (even if they’re the regular things for ourselves), it makes us feel really bad about ourselves, and really affects our self-esteem — if we can’t follow through taking care of ourselves or regulating ourselves or being consistent. So, know that. When you start working on your self-care, you’re also working on your self-esteem. You’re getting yourself to build-up a trust relationship with yourself — that you can count on — that you’re going to take really good care of yourself — and I promise you if you do, you’re going to have more of a reserve to call on in those long days and those particularly challenging parts of life that go on.
So, for this month, I’d like you to really focus on the ten things that you do to take care of yourself and just watch yourself do them and also watch how you talk to yourself about what you do to take care of yourself. It might be just encouraging yourself, like come on you can do that or just go to bed or you can exercise a little bit longer. Watch the ways that you encourage yourself; that’s also a part of self-care.
DECIDING TO DIVORCE:
Self-care is critical if you’re in a dilemma and you’re trying to work out how you’re going to move forward in your life — whether it’s to find ways to be happier with yourself or find the strength to leave a relationship. So, self-care is critical — but also the way that you talk to yourself about self-care.
Think about the times that you’re in the lowest of lows — when you feel like you’re in that cycle, where you just kind of give in to acting out — like: I’m not going to do that; I’m not going to do the thing that makes me feel better; absolutely not… I had a terrible day; I got into a fight with my partner; I’m feeling really discouraged and depressed, so I’m not going to do it.
These are the moments where it’s going to be really critical for you to find a way to connect with yourself so that you can go into taking care of yourself. That might be with encouraging words or just going into action. Sometimes I like to tell people to think about three things that you can do to get yourself to go in action — something that you can do to stop the negative cycle. When we give in to ourselves and just go into a depression, where we’re just staying on the couch and not eating, or eating junk food or watching TV too much — or whatever it might be that makes you feel like it’s making you feel better… it’s actually not self-regulating and it’s going to end up that you’re in that cycle that’s really difficult to break out of.
Taking action breaks you out of the stagnation of not being able to help yourself — any kind of action. It can be a small one… take a shower, turn on music, make your bed… whatever it might be. But notice, when you’re in your lowest of lows, and you can’t move yourself to a different spot — that is when you have to make a commitment to work on your self-esteem, which happens when you’re able to follow through with the stuff that you want to do for yourself — that stuff that builds trust and strength. That is the moment for you to actually take some kind of action — be it big or small. So self-care and deciding to divorce go hand-in-hand. You have to replenish and rebuild and have some reserve to get through these kinds of challenges.
Self-care, of course, when you’re raising kids, is critical — and I know… you’re the last one on the list to get taken care of. I get it. It’s really challenging to be a parent if you’re co-parenting with someone — half of the time, you’re being a single parent and it’s almost impossible to spend or pay attention to yourself. So, I like folks to think about this really important skill set, which is trying to have your own time-out corner or space in your house.
Many times, we stay in the same room as our kids because we’re not with them all the time when we’re co-parenting, so, you might want to be able to spend some quality time with yourself, around your kids — and train them to do that. If your self-care is what happens in a parallel-play model, you’re doing it right next to your kid. Find a space in your house, where you can light a candle or maybe some incense, have some good magazines to read, or a journal, or some drawing tools — or whatever you might do that relaxes you, which isn’t turning out but actually tuning-in to yourself.
We have those activities that we think are self-care activities that are actually tuning-out activities — numbing-out activities like watching TV or eating junk food or just doing things around the house, but not really getting anything done. But then there are these other times where we can find these certain activities (and I know you probably have three in your mind right now that you can do or maybe you could create them), activities that give you energy. Maybe you stretch. Maybe you breathe. Maybe there’s a certain friend you talk to. Maybe you journal.
Really think about a few things that you can do and start practicing doing them near your kids, so that you get some space for yourself, and you train them to allow you to take that space.
Self-care in families can be tough — but it’s also a great model for your kids to see you actually taking care of yourself… because they’ll do that too. They’ll realize that all the self-regulation in all the routines that you try to teach them, are something that you do too… and that’s for a lifetime.
STRENGTHENING YOUR COUPLE RELATIONSHIP:
You can either choose to be around your partner — in all of your depletion — or you can choose to be with your partner and try to work on taking care of yourself in that relationship — while you’re with that person. That may look like really honing into yourself while you are doing partner activities. This would be a way that you are able to further your self-care while you’re together.
Sometimes we are in parallel play with our partners — we’re doing things to take care of ourselves when we are around them, but we’re also doing things with them. The difference is that you’re keeping the focus on your relationship some of the time, and interacting — but also checking-in with yourself throughout the time that you’re with your partner. So, if you’re eating a really good meal together, you’re making sure that you really enjoy that meal, taste that meal, choose what you want to eat, and savor it. If you’re exercising, that you’re checking in with your body — what part of your body is having a hard time with the exercise? What part of your body really needs to move? What part of your body needs to stretch in different ways? And breathing — constantly — checking-in and replenishing yourself all along the time that you’re in your connection with your partner.
With self-care and self-regulation, as we get better and better at it and more cognizant of what we need, we can practice with anyone we’re with — just taking a few moments for ourselves, and then also coming back into a quality relationship with whoever we’re spending time with.
Think about your self-care as a collaboration of something that you’re actually using to build yourself up when you’re doing activities with other people, as a way of strengthening your relationship — feeling better by spending time together, because some of your focus is on yourself and on replenishing yourself. And notice how that shows up in your relationship.
I look forward to supporting your emotional skills development, in my upcoming newsletters.
If you ever have a suggestion or topic you would like me to address, please don’t hesitate to email me.
I’ll look forward to talking to you again next month, but bye for now!!