As I was heading out for my walk this morning, I was really not feeling like going at all. The air was damp and cold, and my bed felt extra warm and snuggly. I was still talking myself through my objections as I laced up my sneakers and walked out the door.
What usually inspires me to get going, and I use the word “inspires” very generously here, is that I remind myself that good self-care starts with one decision at a time. When I begin my day doing something to promote good physical and mental health, then the rest of the day seems to flow more naturally in a healthy direction.
It’s interesting that once I get going on my walk, no matter the weather, I always feel better and think, “I’m really glad I did this.” This has happened to me more times that I can count, but still my brain must take me through the same drill – one decision at a time.
When I talk with my clients about developing a self-care routine, they often think I am referring to activities such as taking a bubble bath, getting a pedicure or planning a vacation. And although these types of activities are great, they are treats and not necessarily self-care practices.
Self-care practices typically aren’t as exciting as treats, and usually require effort which our brains are hardwired to avoid. Some examples include:
- Spending a Sunday afternoon prepping healthy meals for the week
- Journaling after dinner
- Stopping at one cocktail and ordering a glass of water
- Shutting down your laptop and phone and going to bed on time
- Saying “no” to things that don’t align with your life-plan, and saying “yes” to things that do
- Driving past the fast food restaurant and going home for lunch
- Skipping the elevator and taking the stairs
Self-care requires discipline, and it is easy to get off track. If you’re like me (human), then your mind will sometimes try to keep you from the activities that will help you to feel the healthiest.
Interestingly, this can even include ones that you actually enjoy! At a very primal level, our minds want to keep us safe in our comfort zone, expending the least amount of energy possible.
If you are finding it difficult to maintain good self-care habits, here is a tip that you may find helpful: Ask yourself, “When do I feel my healthiest?” Then, consider your answer as you create your self-care list of priorities.
Now I should add, just because you have a list doesn’t mean your brain won’t try to talk you out of it. However, having insight into this can be extremely helpful. So, when you start to think like I do when I want to stay in bed on a rainy, cold morning, you can recognize it for what it is and get yourself moving.
One decision at a time…