Let’s talk about you for moment. Yes, you. The parent. The caregiver. The researcher….the “do-it-all”. One thing I am expert in, is the incredible amount of stress that we as special needs parents experience. There is really no way around it and a majority of the time we really do “forget” ourselves and become survival experts in our own lives. I am here to tell you that “survival” mode is NOT the path that you should be taking on this journey. You are going to (if your not already) exhaust yourself and every little thing in your life is going to morph into a huge STRUGGLE.
Having resources that support the self-care journey is imperative. One wouldn’t take off on a month long hike without the proper tools for supporting safety, warmth, nourishment, etc….. Hence, the “tools” for self-care…..it’s a very long journey and being very aware of your needs is self-care in itself.
These are some of the tools that I have implemented thus far. It isn’t a complete list nor, is it a static list. I tend to try to keep things fluid and if I feel they are serving me well – they stay – if I have moved past “useful” then I gently and graciously lay them aside. I always try to ask myself what it is I need….or don’t. How is my body responding when I ask these questions. Am I tensing up? Releasing breath and feeling a sense of lightness? Learning to trust our instincts is a lesson that we must master. Often times our brains and “logic” will override our hearts and we choose the more “hard” road. Perhaps if it comes too easy we think that we aren’t doing “enough”. Or…..being “ENOUGH”. Consider how your body feels when thinking thoughts. Picture what it looks like in your mind….how does it FEEL to you? Is it bringing a sense of connection and joy to your body? Is your body responding with being able to breath into it? Does it make you realize what peaceful feels like? Not just the word…..but actually FEEEEEL……peace? It should resonate calm and empowerment through you.
Let’s get started with a few examples:
I can’t impress enough how much our environments have a direct impact on our health and wellness. When one is feeling safe, nurtured, uncluttered, connected it makes for a much better experience AND probably even more important, it has a way of making us feel honored and worthy in ourselves and BY ourselves. That it is the person staring back in the mirror that carved out this time to focus on themselves and that they cared enough to make it as beautiful as possible with what is available TODAY…..that is huge. A flower, a twig, a rock, a candle….you don’t have to think of it as a new age kind of deal. It really isn’t. Rather it is taking/finding things that matter to YOU and honoring the fact that it is something important to you and it is an outward expression of something inside of you. You are a soul…..in a body. Your environment matters just as much as you do because it IS an expression of who you are and how you are moving through this life. Make it a priority to find a room, a closet, a corner for that matter and turn it into a space of calm and healing. Open your mind and see what it looks like….try things on in your mind and feel it. Even in the midst of children, pets, other interruptive issues, finding your own small space and making it yours is a first step in your journey.
Time is something that we are equal in. It is the utilization and organization of our time that sets us apart in our lives. For myself, I can tell you that I still am not the most organized in time management. I’m a creative, so I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever be able to live my life off of a planner or calendar very well. One way that I have made myself a little more disciplined is taking “moments” throughout my day and setting intentions for those moments. My experience has been that when I do this, it is SO much easier to start to schedule time in my PLANNER (check out the Passion Planner or Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map Planner) because I am doing things that make me feel good and I am making new default modes in my brain chemistry….i.e.,”yoga makes me feel centered, calm and accomplished – I think I’ll do it again so I can feel that way today….”, “taking that 5 minutes yesterday with music off my iPod really helped clear my head and energized me.” “I liked sitting on the floor with the sun shining on my face while just being quiet…” All of this isn’t “WOO WOO”…..emotions are energy. Brain chemistry IS happening regardless if you are feeling great or feeling less than great. Life Experience + Processing + Reaction = Belief. Allow yourself to find those beautiful beliefs about yourself and live open!
Aromatherapy is a huge part of my life. Yes, I teach on it and yes, I have a business with it. After experiencing for myself the ability of a scent to bring out emotions and healing to my own body/mind I became a very passionate believer in essential oils. Regardless of your affinity to a particular company (full disclosure – I am a dōTerrian) they can be one of the biggest assets in your Self-Care tool box. When I wake up in the morning they are the first thing I take hold of. I use them throughout the day when I need a pick-me-up, a moment to calm down and ground myself when I feel anxiousness coming on, or to focus and find clarity. Having a few essential oils at your fingertips and any given moment is a top recommendation I give to my clients when consulting with them. Not only is it an excellent way to support your self in any given situation, they are not location prohibitive. Meaning…..if you are in a meeting and starting to tense up you can whip one out and subtly put a drop in your hand, rub them together and take a few deep breaths without disturbing or distracting (however, you will probably get a few comments like “WHAT SMELLS SO GOOD!!!!”.) If you are in your car carting children/pets around and feeling yourself sliding into a mental volcano you can easily diffuse some in your car by opening the bottle and rubbing a little on your neck or even taking a drop on your finger and rubbing it over the air vent and turning up the fan to disperse it around. EVERYONE benefits from that trick! (You can buy car diffusers too! Check these out. I love them!!!) Feeling like your moving into brain fog just when you need your mind at its sharpest? Again, a few drops of something like peppermint and orange will clear the air quite literally and after about 30 seconds of deep breathing you will be seeing VERY clear. Believe me on that one!
These are just a few of the tools that I use in my own journey. They are simple and something that ALL of us have access too. At the very least when it comes to the essential oils you can always ask for a few samples to experiment with. Seek out someone who works with them (like myself) or perhaps someone you already know. Don’t let not knowing someone or the $$ investment be an excuse. YOU are WORTH every penny and every drop.
I encourage you to use your moments to create an environment that will support you TODAY and will help you to define what you desire in yourself….for yourself. Authenticity is a daily practice and the more we practice the closer we get to mastery.