Stop Dwelling on the Negative: Seven Ways to Show Self-Care
by Diane Berenbaum
When we were young, we learned a lot of life lessons. We were told about the importance of success, the value of working hard, making money, and putting others first. But, we may not have learned how to keep ourselves fueled for that journey.
How can we be successful if we're depleted by work demands, time constraints, unrealistic deadlines and the resulting stress? How can we stop dwelling on the negatives and start focusing on what is most important—YOU.
"Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel." Eleanor Brownn (yes, her last name has 2 n's) is an internationally recognized inspirational writer and coach.
Here are Seven Ways to Take Better Care of Yourself:
1. Don't Agonize over Mistakes; Stop the Accompanying Negative Self-Talk
We often drag ourselves down when we make a mistake; even a minor one. And, sometimes we dwell on it far too much, and that only serves to make us even more miserable. So, stop the negative self-talk and labeling (e.g., "I can't do that" or "I never get it right").
Shift your language to positive, affirming self-talk (e.g., "I can do this!" or "Now I know what to do next time!"). Accept ourselves with the good, the bad, the ugly, the sexy, and the smelly — all of it — and appreciate ourselves as whole people. Recognize that we can only learn from the past; we can't change it.
2. Take Care of your Physical Well-being
Your physical well-being also affects your emotional and mental well-being, so it's important to remember when showing self-love. Your body will find a way to communicate exactly what it needs to you, and the best thing you can do is listen. Make sure you're staying hydrated, eating a wholesome and well-balanced diet, sleeping enough, and exercising.
3. Keep a Journal
Writing in a journal every night is a great way to give yourself some quiet, reflective time. Doodle, color, draw and jot down words/phrases that come to mind. Document the positive and what you're looking forward to in the future. Recognize your accomplishments, congratulate yourself on small wins, and appreciate yourself. Writing these things down brings them to the forefront of your mind, and makes them more tangible and meaningful.
Also, reflect on what didn't go as well as you hoped, and realize your potential to learn and grow. You can write down a goal or something you're looking forward to and reflect on how to achieve that goal. Setting clear, well-articulated targets can inspire you to make measurable progress.
Self-awareness is the key to self-love. Loving yourself doesn't mean pushing all negativity aside, but rather accepting yourself and all of your emotions, and learning how to manage them. Sometimes, our own thoughts can feel impossible to handle, and we can become quickly overwhelmed. Meditation is a great way to validate your feelings, but also to sort through and prioritize which really need our attention and energy.
And, explore your breath; is it shallow and choppy, or long and smooth? Just breathing…deeply…can help you calm your nerves, center yourself and shift your perspective. You can use these meditation timers to help you with your breathing practice.
5. Do a Reality Check and Nurture Patience
"Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience" ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Whether you're feeling anxious, frustrated or even angry, or ruminating about something you did or didn't do…slow down. Do a reality check; things may not be as bad as they may seem. Our minds may have come up with a wide range of thoughts and feelings that may make you feel worse. Know your triggers and be prepared to counteract them with practices that you find soothing (meditation, review a gratitude list (write a gratitude list), take a walk.
And, above all, nurture patience. Patience helps you slow down and work at a natural pace. It allows you to pause and reflect, rather than react. And, that can bring more calm and peace to yourself and those around you.
6. Engage Your Senses
Get out of your head and into your body, suggests authors Elisha Goldstein and Stefanie Goldstein (Clinical psychologists/authors). They recommend moving your body, instead of sitting at a desk all day long. When you change your posture or do gentle twists, you become more present.
Place one or two hands on your heart, and think of someone who makes you smile; then wish them well.
And most importantly, move around! Many of us sit most of the day. So, move your body, check your posture and do gentle twists to engage your senses and become more present. And go outside!
7. Drive Yourself Calm, Not Crazy
Elisha Goldstein, psychologist/author/speaker suggested this advice and recommends that you:
Ask yourself what you need in each moment; understanding that need will help bring balance.
Give yourself what you need.
Make time to do what you love; not what others think you need to do or "should" do.
Keep in mind that…no one can do these things for you. And, no one can make you happy or unhappy.
"The more light you allow within you, the brighter the world you live in will be." ~ Shakti Gawain, Pioneering Author and Teacher in the Field of Personal Growth
Diane Berenbaum is a long-time contributor and former editor of the MAGIC Service Newsletter. She has more than twenty-five years of experience as a consultant, coach, and facilitator. Diane is the co-author of How to Talk to Customers: Create a Great Impression Every Time with MAGIC® .