Self-care is not selfish. That’s what my life-coach, Rita, always told me. It was a hard lesson to learn, because that nagging little voice inside my head often told me I was selfish. But I ditched that unsupportive belief, and now I’m taking much better care of me.
Many people believe self-care means a glamorous splurge, like a mini-vacation or a half-day at a spa. But really, it’s part of everyday life. It means everything from visiting the doctor regularly to brushing your teeth and giving yourself small gifts. Like right now. Let’s pamper ourselves for a few minutes with a stress-busting, serenity-inducing gift. Come on – guys, too. Don’t let the word pamper put you off.
Sit up straight with both feet on the floor. Now take a deep breath. Let your belly pouf out when you do this. Hold the breath a moment, then release slowly. Take a few more big energizing breaths. I always find myself feeling better immediately, especially when I focus on the breath and take my mind off the things consuming me.
Now, take a potty break. Yes, pee. I can’t tell you the number of times I bragged (?) at the end of the work day that I hadn’t had time to pee all day. What was that all about? I don’t know if guys do this, but I’ve had that conversation with lots of women. Go ahead, we’ll wait for you. Even if you don’t have to pee, take a little walking break, look into the distance (and away from the computer screen) and keep breathing…….
Feeling better now? Okay, back to more pampering. Are you relaxed? How about the woman in the picture – is she relaxed? No; she is clearly clenching something. Are you clenching or squeezing anything? Take a quick inventory: eyes, teeth, jaw, neck, shoulders, belly, butt, thighs. Any squeezing anywhere? Release it all. (That’s why we took the bathroom break first.)
Here’s a yoga eye exercise I’ve done with Shahadah in Wisconsin and Anita in Hawaii. It’s perfect for anyone who’s been staring at the computer for a while. Sit comfortably. Slap your hands together and rub them vigorously to generate heat. (The generating-heat part never worked in Wisconsin. In winter, the yoga room was too cold for my hands to warm up, no matter how hard I rubbed. In summer, the AC was on and I still couldn’t get them to warm up.) Now cup your warm hands over your closed eyes without touching them.
With your head facing straight ahead and eyes closed, look as far to the left as you can, then shift your eyes slowly to the right, straight across the horizon. Move your eyes back and forth a half dozen times and stop in the middle. Again, with eyes closed, raise them high (head remains still), then slowly lower them straight down and up again, a few times. Now start in the upper left corner and take the gaze down to lower right corner and back, a half dozen times. Start the gaze in the upper right corner and move eyes to the lower left corner and back, a half dozen times. End in the middle. Finally, make eye circles, first clockwise, then counter-clockwise.
Use your fingers to massage your brow, forehead and temples and into your hairline. Now take your fingers to the back of your neck and massage them into your hairline from beneath, up as far as you want to go. It feels good to massage the sinuses back there too. Ahhh. Remember to breathe mindfully.
How about some shoulder shrugs? Take them up around your ears, squeeze, and drop them. Try rolling your shoulders too. Total time to do all this can be as little as six minutes; I timed it.
Feeling refreshed? Calmer? More serene?
You probably haven’t learn anything new. But we can all use the reminder to practice these little self-gifts. Suggestion: post this where you’ll see it to prompt a little self-care. Remember, self-care is not selfish. It’s transforming.
PS. What’s your favorite stress-buster in the middle of the day? Besides making that trip to the restroom, I love to squeeze my eyes shut tight, then open and blink rapidly, followed by a few head rolls. Ahhh. And then I find someone to hug.
For more on the benefits of hugging, see: Twelve hugs a day for growth.
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