Self-Care Reactions

Hi dear reader,

Hope this finds you well. I’m so moved my the positive feedback and support I received last week. It was quite a process of reflection, responsibility and risk to put myself out there like this. It meant the world that you supported it. Speaking of the three Rs from last week, I wanted to follow-up a bit and expand on that discussion. When I wrote that article, I was in the frame of mind about deliberate choices we make which can steer our life. Later, I began to think of those life events which are not our choice, that come by surprise . . . those situations in which we feel like we have no power.

Self-Care ReactionsAs scary, stressful or unsettling those situations can be, I do want to advocate that we still have choice and power. It just looks a little different. When life takes us on an unexpected ride, the choice we have is in our reaction (yes, another R). I’m not talking about our initial gut reaction, the one that instantaneously happens. I am talking about a more long-term type of reaction. The one that can result after we’ve had a moment to breath and think, our self-care reaction.

I have a small example from Friday night to illustrate. I had a pretty taxing week for a number of reasons and by Fridaynight my body was tense and on the verge of a headache. I was too agitated to sleep at 11:00pm. My sweet husband was already snoozing and so I was as left to my own devices. How was I going to react and take care of myself in that moment? Cry, journal, escape to the internet (which I had already done plenty of, that evening), have a drink, play a video game, text, phone or email a friend, read . . . The list of possibilities goes on. In the overall grand scheme of things, none of those options is the best. There may not be an obvious winner and all have their place. (Assuming the alcohol consumption isn’t an issue.) For me, the choice really depended on what I needed in the moment, which was difficult for me to tease out immediately.

My first step was to be gentle with myself. It could have been easy to add to my agitation by now being aggravated that I couldn’t come up with something soothing. Once I realized that the key for me was the body tension, the self-care solution became clear. I have a strong belief in the mind-body connection. I learned that taking care of one can take care of the other . . . relaxing the mind can actually relax the body and vice versa.

Although I don’t practice yoga consistently, it is something that I love. It truly impacts my physical tension AND my mental chatter. So at 11pm, I decided to load up the first at home yoga DVD I ever bought: Sara Ivanhoe’s (circa 2002) Candlelight Yoga (and of course I also lit a candle). It worked! I slept like a baby afterward. Not only was my sleep affected but my mind was at ease on Saturday morning. I cannot tell you how glad I am that I made a thoughtful choice rather just continuing to spin and feed the agitation. That one intentional self-care reaction not only allowed me to be more relaxed and peaceful that night, but it significantly impacted the rest of my weekend. One 45 minute video isn’t always going to create that much of a shift. However, if you have an arsenal of self-care choices, then you are able to manage more of life’s challenges. So, let’s get on that!

Reflection:

When life throws you a curve ball, how do you react? Are you gentle with yourself? Do you belittle yourself, because you think you should be able to handle it? How do you take care of yourself in times of stress and change? What are your go-to self-care strategies? Are any of them portable and available at any time of day or night? Do you have a tendency to sit in your agitation, stress, sadness, anger, (insert any negative feeling) or do you find a balance of reflecting on the emotion (and any information it may have for you) while also allowing yourself some reprieve?

Start a list of self-care reactions. I’ll throw in a few additional ideas to get the juices flowing: prayer, singing, stretching, meditation, taking pictures, walking in nature, drawing, coloring . . .

Please feel free to list some of your self-care reactions in the comments section below. It doesn’t matter if they are past, present or future reactions. This way everyone can benefit from the self-care reaction brainstorm!

4 thoughts on “Self-Care Reactions”

  1. Shana says:

    When I’m angry, I walk or (try to) run. When I’m anxious, I pray. When I’m totally stressed out and overwhelmed I cry it out.

  2. Tracy says:

    Great info… I love that you wrote that you were gentle with yourself. When I’m tense I think that is what I’m learning to do first and foremost is to be gentle with myself. Being harsh is likely more of a natural first inclination but I’m learning to be gentle…then praying, reading, deep breathing or whatever I figure out actually is done in a better frame of mind.

  3. Lauren says:

    I’ve been thinking about this post a lot, Karin. In the last 2 weeks, when unexpected things crop up, whether it be a sudden schedule change with my husband’s job or a cold that hinders my productivity, I hear that “be gentle” voice in my head. My go-to strategy for dealing with unexpected stress is kind of boring actually–I make a list. Then I narrow it down to the fewest steps, the simplest solution, and then I take a deep breath. For some reason, putting that plan on paper makes the unexpected seem more manageable to me. Thanks again for these powerful thoughts!

  4. Karin Lawson says:

    Great comments! Thanks so much for putting them out there so others can take away additional strategies!

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Karin Lawson

2312 Wilton Drive, Suite 22
Wilton Manors, FL 33305

karin@drkarinlawson.com
954-336-4049