Self-Care

Hello everyone,

Is there anything that produces better results in our lives than self-care? In my experience it is the best way to begin to address any challenge we face, by taking care of ourselves first. Once we offer ourselves some genuine kindness, the difficulties we are dealing with seem much more manageable. 

Today we are fortunate to have a guest author whose name is Brad Krause. He’s engaged in coaching and writing about self-care because this was his journey too. He approached me about sharing one of his articles on my blog which I am happy to do. He has a great message that perhaps we can all use as a reminder to take time for ourselves. Is there anything more important? Here is his website and email address, http://selfcaring.info/ & brad@selfcaring.info

What Is Self-Care? A 4-Step Approach You Can Start Today!

 Though we know it’s important for our mental and physical health, most Americans put self-care at the bottom of their to-do lists. We push aside our own needs when we feel pressure at work to meet deadlines or to help with requests from friends and family. Our to-do lists are so long, we rarely get the chance to check-off more than what we put on. At the end of the day, self-care might seem selfish, like putting ourselves before others. But how can we ever excel at caring about our work or about a friend if we aren’t caring for ourselves?

This kind of lifestyle leads to burnout. More than 80 percent of Americans report feeling stressed on a daily basis, and that kind of constant pressure often results in high blood pressure, fertility issues, insomnia, depression and an increased risk for obesity, heart attack, and stroke. 

Suddenly self-care seems a little less selfish now, doesn’t it? Self-care can be as simple or as complex as you make it. You can set aside special time for it, or sneak it into your daily routine. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Eating Healthy Meals

There is a direct link between physical and mental health and nutrition. Many people say they simply don’t have time to cook healthy meals—that the preparation and planning take too long. However, using a meal delivery service can cut down on the time it takes to plan, shop, and prepare healthy dishes. Plus, meal planners at these companies give you diverse and healthy options, so you don’t have to worry about growing bored with your diet choices. This variety also increases the likelihood you’ll sustain the healthy self-care habit in the long-term. Cooking healthy meals and eating as a family can help you unwind and reconnect at the end of the day.

Getting Good Sleep

Sleep is your body’s way to recover, both mentally and physically. When you aren’t getting enough quality sleep, you’ll notice a change in cognitive ability, irritability, and inflammation. When you make sleep a self-care necessity, you make both your nights and days a priority. Start a bedtime routine at the same time each night to signal to your body it’s time to rest. Good sleep helps with focus, attention, healthy weight, and less stress.

Saying No From Time to Time

Saying no is always hard—we hate the feeling of letting other people down. But a big part of self-care is knowing that, when we are overwhelmed with commitments, the quality of our work suffers. If you say yes every time you are asked to help, you’ll never be able to make your deadlines on-time. Plus, when you do turn in work, it’s not likely your best. The same thing applies to your commitments to family, friends, and even yourself. When your plate is full, give yourself permission to say no or, at the very least, “not right now.” You can also try to connect the requestor with someone more capable, so you don’t feel like you are leaving them in a lurch.

Devoting 30 Minutes a Day to Yourself

It sounds like such a small amount of time, but to some, 30 minutes a day of R&R seems surprisingly hard to squeeze in, which is exactly why it’s so important to try. Self-care can become a daily habit by scheduling a half hour for a simple relaxation break. Maybe you take a good book outside or soak in a hot bath. Work in a garden or listen to a podcast while out on a stroll—any activity that helps melt away stress from your mind and tension from your body. 

Self-care is a powerful way to reset and recharge. When you take time for yourself, you find you have more energy for others. Self-care allows for opportunities of reflection, so you can recommit yourself to the things that matter most, and take the time to appreciate how strong, determined, and dedicated you can be.

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The Victim Mentality

Years ago I had heard the term “victim mentality“ and I was curious as to what it meant. Imagine my surprise when I looked it up only to discover that this was me! Yikes! 😳

I certainly didn’t want to think of myself as a victim of anything, and so I set off in search of a way to change this dynamic within myself. I found out that the opposite of being a victim was being an empowered person, and that becoming empowered would require new choices from me.

I now consider myself a work in progress, continually moving toward greater personal empowerment (better choices). I take time every day to reflect on the choices I’ve made and what outcomes those choices have created in my life. If my choices leave me with a good feeling, I know that I have made an empowered choice. If my choices leave me with a crummy feeling I know I have fallen back into the victim mentality.

Just in case you aren’t familiar with the term “victim mentality” here is an explanation I like from Wikipedia.

                                                   What is it?

A victim mentality is an acquired personality trait in which a person tends to unconsciously see themselves as a victim of the negative actions of others, and then reacts in a way that confirms their perceived helplessness or powerlessness. In essence, being a victim is a way of: avoiding responsibility and criticism for one’s actions, circumstances and results in life, receiving attention and compassion, and evading one’s own feelings of genuine anger. It leads to people constantly being guided by negative emotions like fear, sadness and anger.

No one really consciously chooses to be a victim. It is more a way we fall into, and we fall into it  because (unconsciously), we lack a more effective strategy to deal with life. Being a victim provides a way of avoiding change, staying safe in one’s comfort zone, numbing oneself, not dealing with painful feelings, finding company, getting attention and sympathy, and avoiding being responsible for something in one’s life, for example, blaming others or complaining.

If you recognize yourself in this description and would like to change that pattern, I recommend a hefty dose of compassion and gentleness toward yourself. What might that look like? Here are just a few ideas:

A thought that says, “now that I recognize this, I’d like to change it“ 

Choosing to do something enjoyable

Asking yourself what kinds of things are important to YOU

Choosing not to criticize or judge yourself

Setting an intention to discover new ways to empower yourself

Taking the time to figure out what makes you happy

So how will you choose? Without judgment, you can continue with habitual choices that bring negativity or emotional pain, or you can experiment with a new choice that might offer you different information. You can’t get it wrong, and you can always choose again!

With love, Jackie

Ever Find Yourself Caught Up In An Argument? 🤐

In the past, I used to find myself caught up in arguments. I never gave it a second thought.  I thought “everyone” argued from time to time and that this was normal. Since that time, this is what I have learned, it takes the participation of 2 people to argue. While that may seem obvious to you, it took me decades before this lightbulb went on in my brain. After I was lucky enough to realize that, I knew I could choose whether I was going to be one of the participants, or not. To my knowledge, one cannot argue by themselves. 

I decided it would be empowering, and a loving act toward myself, to withdraw my participation in arguments. That new choice felt great! If I was aware that an argument was starting I would say something like this; “I would be happy to discuss this with you at a later time when I am more calm“, “ Raising my voice doesn’t feel good, and for me, I don’t think it accomplishes anything”, “This is important to talk about, but now is not a good time for me, how about later or tomorrow?”

Wow! That turned out to be liberating! I felt free from one more negative pattern I had  repeatedly chosen in my life. It was one more way that I found to take good care of myself.

So…, what about you? Are there any negative situations you repeatedly find yourself in that you would love to be done with? Why not take a look at your own contribution to that situation and make a new choice? Why look at your contribution and not “theirs”? Because your choices are the only ones you have control over. Once we really get that, we begin to take full responsibility for our own choices and we can let go of the need to try and control the choices of others. We never can anyway, but we sure spend a lot of time and energy trying, don’t we?

With love, Jackie

Make A Difference Monday

I heard the sweetest and incredibly inspiring story on the radio Monday about a kindness received and later “paid forward”. The radio station said it was “make a difference Monday”, then they offered this heart warming story. It was from a mom who said that at one point in her life she didn’t have enough money for school supplies for her elementary school daughter. She felt bad about sending her daughter to school without the proper supplies, but she was worried about putting food on the table. She tried to salvage all she could from last year‘s school supplies. She ended up with a tattered but repaired folder and 2 pencils. On the morning of the first day of school, as they open their door to leave the house something magical happened. There was a box of new school supplies on their doorstep with everything her daughter needed!

Now that this mom is financially stable, on the first day of school she follows her daughter into school with enough supplies for another 10 to 15 students and gift cards for the teachers! She still does not know who left the badly needed and greatly appreciated school supplies. 

She noted how this one act of kindness years ago, continues to touch many lives beyond their own, teachers, other students and now a radio station’s listening audience. It is the ripple effect of kindness. May it never end……….🙏🏻

With love, Jackie

A Lesson At The Gas Pump

A couple of years ago two men were arguing at the Costco gas pump, about 3 feet away from me, because one man had supposedly cut in front of the other. There were raised voices and threats which made me feel physically unsafe. I asked myself, “instead of feeling vulnerable, what can I do now to improve the situation for myself”? I decided that I would not be perceived as a threat so I went over and stood between them. I gently suggested that what occurred was not worth fighting over and what would result from that. My choice left me feeling better, my heart was peaceful.

Why did I choose the action that I did? It was because I felt compassion for these two angry young men. I knew that anger of this magnitude for a “small” event came from the past in each of them, where they had been harmed. I realize this particular situation is an unusual and rare occurrence but I use it to illustrate that….

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”  -Wayne Dyer

I changed the way I looked at these men who were acting aggressively toward one another, and then my choice changed. Instead of judging them as making a poor decision or as “immature”, I chose to look at what was behind their behavior. It was my choice. My choice came from years of attempting to cultivate compassion in many smaller arenas. Then, when I needed it for a larger issue, it was there for me to use without hesitation. For this I am extremely grateful because this is not the way it used to be.

In the past, compassion was never my first choice, judgement was. A constant diatribe of (negative) judgement was going on in my head aimed at myself as well as others. I didn’t know I could change it. I never asked myself if I wanted to change it. And even if I would have wanted to change it, I didn’t know how. I didn’t have the tools. But I do now, and learning to use them leaves me feeling calm, gives me an increasing sense of freedom and opens my heart. Instead of the old “sign on my heart” which read “All who come near will be judged“, the sign now reads, “All are welcome and accepted without judgement.”

As I write this I cannot help but shake my head in wonder at the shifts that have taken place inside of me. If there is some type of change you are wanting, you can have it too. It happens as a result of your desire, your invitation to change your heart. Then allow life to gently guide you, put your focus there and watch what happens!

With love, Jackie

I’ll Feel Better When………

One of the things I recommend as I work with clients desiring permanent weight loss is a steady diet of kindness toward ourselves. In this blog I wanted to share one idea for treating yourself with added kindness.

Let go of the thought that you will feel better when your conditions change. Your well-being won’t be found in some future time or occurrence as conditions are continually changing. One thing you can do NOW is to guide your thoughts toward something that feels better to you at this moment.  Every time you make that choice you empower yourself. When you wait for conditions to change to feel better, you disempower yourself. Here is a question that can help you begin to guide your thoughts, “what is the kindest choice I can make toward myself right now?” What would your answer be, now?

With love, Jackie

Delicious Kale Smoothie Recipie!

A client of mine sent me a smoothie recipe from Kris Carr. I have adapted that recipe to be higher in fiber and lower in carbs for my own purposes. It is packed with good nutrients and tastes great. I find this smoothie to be a great hunger killer mid afternoon. It can also be a quick substitute for any meal. Should you find yourself hungry in the evening, just cut the amount of avocado and raspberries in half and skip the honey or agave, or substitute it with a tiny bit of artificial sweetener. It takes about 10 minutes to make and that includes cleaning up!

INGREDIENTS

1 CUP FRESH SPINACH OR CURLEY LEAF KALE (I find curly leaf kale tastes better than the other types, but any type is fine)

1 CUP FRESH OR FROZEN RASPBERRIES

1 CUP UNSWEETENED ALMOND MILK

1/4-1/2 AVOCADO (ALTERNATIVE-1-2 TBSP UNSWEETENED PEANUT BUTTER)

JUICE FROM 1/2 FRESH LEMON (ALTERNATIVE-1 TBSP LEMON JUICE)

1-3 TSP AGAVE, HONEY OR STEVIA

1/2-1 CUP COLD WATER

1 CUP ICE (OPTIONAL-ADDS THICKNESS & VOLUME)

Put it all in a blender except for the ice, and blend until well mixed. Add ice and blend until smooth. I put it in a giant glass and it looks like a milkshake. YUM! (From my personal experience, the lemon and a little bit of sweetener are critical to the “deliciousness” of this smoothie)

*Approximate nutritional information- Calories– 250, Carbohydrates–24 g, Protein–4 g, Fat–12.5 g, Fiber–14 g

With Love, Jackie

Do You Feel Powerless Over Your “Addiction“?

Disclaimer: I am not an expert in addiction medicine. I’m a registered nurse that has been working in the field of permanent weight loss for the last six years. The work I do now is the result of my own personal experience. I was addicted to food, and as a result, I was overweight since my teens. For decades, with temporary success, I had tried everything I knew to try to turn my weight issue around but I was unsuccessful. I felt trapped and depressed. In my late 40s and early 50s I finally figured out a permanent and peaceful way to lose and maintain a healthy weight. I found a way out of my addiction to food.

Having a more fit and slender body was certainly wonderful, just as I thought it would be, but one other thing I lost was just as meaningful and I had no idea it even existed. This may sound dramatic but it is truly the way I felt. Being released from the compulsion to eat was just as remarkable as finally being at a healthy weight. I had previously felt enslaved to a food habit that I was unable to break for decades. The word “enslaved” is aptly defined as losing your freedom of choice. I mean really, would I ever have freely chosen to be overweight?

So now, I find myself wanting very much to help others who are struggling. Below is a powerful little practice that I would offer to anyone who is addicted as I was.

When a craving hits

-Stop for a moment

-Put your full attention on the feeling the craving is creating in your body. 

            -Where do you feel it? 

            -What does it feel like? (Details please)

-Take two or three deep breath‘s while allowing yourself to feel the powerful pull of the craving

-Observe the craving and its power over you

-Go ahead and make your choice without judgment or criticism. You may choose the object of your addiction or you may chose differently, but you will now be choosing consciously. 

-How does that feel?

-Repeat as needed whenever the craving returns

It is your conscious choice that can begin to turn things around. You are taking your power back no matter how small, and that is what matters.

It is my heartfelt wish for you to live a life full of love in all of its forms, i.e. fun, friendships, abundance, kindness etc… This was not possible for me as long as I was dealing with an addiction. You are a worthy and lovable human being. How do you want to live your life, trapped or free?

With love, Jackie

Anyday Wisdom

It is not always possible to change our situation (quickly) once we realize we would like it to change. Our job is to create an improved feeling NOW by changing our thoughts to something that feels better. Any thought that feels better will do, even if it isn’t related to the current situation. Just look around  in your physical surroundings or in your mind for something that you like or something that makes you smile and put your focus on that. That is how we create well-being. That is how we offer support to ourself. That is how we treat ourself with kindness and compassion!

With love, Jackie

Anxiety Equals Not Feeling Safe

From an evolutionary point of view, we are born into this world vulnerable and completely dependent upon others to keep us safe and to provide for all of our survival needs. As we grow up, we begin to learn how to do these things for ourselves. And as adults, we may or may not have acquired the tools we need to keep ourselves feeling safe and to care for ourselves.

Most of us have not been given all the tools we need or the right tools for us. This is not because anyone withheld these tools from us. It is because they did not have them to give. Whatever the situation we find ourselves in, if we are experiencing anxiety, it is a “red flag” showing us that we do not have the tools in this area to create our own feeling of emotional safety. Anxiety is a normal human emotion to be accepted without judgment or criticism, like all emotions.

If we would like to be able to create our own feeling of emotional safety inside of ourselves, we need to acquire new tools. That is because whatever we are doing now is not bringing us the feeling we desire, which is usually something like calmness or peace of mind.

So, how might we acquire these new tools if we want them? There are many wonderful books written (or audiobook versions) regarding personal development, there are podcasts, YouTube videos, and there are people like me who teach them and more…

There is also a private and personal way for you to begin to do this on your own. That of course would entail something I talk about in almost every blog I write, making a new choice. The idea is to experiment with making a new choice in an area of your life that is causing you anxiety and see how you feel about the outcome of that new choice. If you like the new outcome resulting from your new choice, you may want to repeat it. If you don’t like the outcome, because it increases or doesn’t help with the anxiety you are experiencing, it is not the right choice for you. This moment may be looked at as your opportunity to rehearse in your mind what new choice you might want to make before the situation presents itself again. I can guarantee your “next time” is coming in some way.

This “trial and error” method will spark your personal development and get you moving in your own “best” direction. Once you set an intention to learn YOUR healthiest way to deal with any anxiety that comes your way, (and as you continue to take steps toward changing it) life will support you in new and unexpected ways.

In the meantime, just being aware of and changing your choice when you are feeling anxious will give you information that will help you make your next decision. It can be a new choice in how you perceive the situation or the things you tell yourself once the situation has presented itself. With your underlying intention to do something different this time, you take your first tiny step into a new, more loving place for your mind and soul to rest. Don’t we all deserve that?
I know we do.

With love, Jackie