Just like December, summer is a time when we tend to make an assessment of how our life and year is going. Are things going well? Do you need a holiday or a break? This is also a time when we are reminded that if we are feeling stressed we need to work on taking care of ourselves to be able to be present for others.
Here are some considerations if you are thinking about practicing more self-care
1) We often hear about setting intentions to practice self-care. One risk in doing so is that we may see these intentions as other areas where we need to perform, therefore becoming another source of stress. A therapeutic approach I find very powerful, ACT therapy, suggests to “hold intentions lightly”, which means using them as a guide for our behavior, but not a constraint.
2) Intentions are good, as long as they do not prevent us from accepting ourselves for what we are. Our love for ourselves should not be dependant on achieving a certain goal (for instance liking ourselves only if we are a certain weight/or if we get a certain position at work).
3) Many times, we set intentions but we do not stick to it. One important reason is that we are not always true to our needs when we set an intention.
4) I often encourage my clients to think about their true needs before setting an intention. Are you following what makes you feel well? Or are you setting an intention because you think that is what will make you more likeable and successful? Journaling is a great way to explore what you feel before setting intentions.
5) Sometimes even when we set a true intention, we are still not able to stick to it. This could be because there may be more basic needs to satisfy before we can find the energy to work on that intention. For example, your intention may be to eat healthy and exercise, but if you are sleep deprived, it may be hard for you to find the energy to work on your intention and this will make you feel even more frustrated.
6) Set a true intention by giving yourself time to think about your deep needs everyday. Once you identify your intention, start small. You can work on your goal even just 5 minutes a day and still feel that you are doing something for yourself.
7) Finally, self-care is a state of mind more than an activity. Start saying no to what does not make you feel well and respect yourself
- For ACT therapy: "The Happiness Trap" by Russ Harris
-For accepting yourself: "The gifts of Imperfection" by Brene' Brown