Recap of February Pillar #2 – “Self Care is Never Selfish”

“Put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others.”~ Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

On February 5th, we introduced Pillar #2 of “The Year of the Best You” – Self Care is Never Selfish. Today, we will recap how the month went with our attention on the realms of self preservation and self prioritization. Our February worksheet encompassed 3 tasks – we practiced saying ‘no’; made ‘to-do’ and ‘not-to-do’ lists; and recorded self-care activities and how they made us feel.

Giving permission

What jumped out at me from the worksheet was that it gave me permission to say ‘no’ to something I may have otherwise said ‘yes’ to, and to prioritize a self care activity everyday. I did find myself repeating some of the self care activities, but overall the theme was “slowing down” and “relaxing”. I think this is a big take-away for our fast-paced, go-go society – in order to take care of ourselves, we must slow down and be conscious of doing something to nourish and recharge ourselves. This may mean just that – relaxing and nothing else.

How often have you had difficultly relaxing on a vacation? I often find that I spend most of the first part of a vacation trying to figure out how to exist in a lower gear – hence why longer vacations are ideal. Sometimes vacations can become just as busy as our usual lives because we think we have to fill every moment with activities such as sightseeing, sports/hiking, shopping, etc.

One tip given to Colin and I when our kids were small and we were traveling to Disneyworld for the first time was to plan to accomplish only the “must do and see” attractions intermixed with scheduled downtime. Downtime for us included pool time, nap time and other relaxing activities. This made an otherwise potentially non-stop vacation super enjoyable. We have since carried this concept forward regardless of our vacation destination and age of our kids.

Let’s face it, as we have discussed, we need downtime as adults too and what better time than when we are on vacation.

Relaxation as self care

What we are really uncovering is that relaxation, or activities that relax us, are a form of self care, and not surprisingly, also a way to manage our stress. Relaxation slows down our sympathetic nervous system and activates our parasympathetic nervous system. This in turn affords us health benefits such as slowing down our heart rate, lowering blood pressure, enhancing blood flow and lowering stress hormones. In addition, prioritizing what matters most to us with awareness of saying ‘no’ and ‘to-do’ and ‘not-to-do’ lists, opens us up more to relax and engage in nourishing self care activities.

Keeping up our “me time”

As a physician, writing a doctor’s note is a fairly common practice. What if we wrote ourselves a ‘doctor’s note’ or ‘permission slip’ to keep up a routine of “me time”? As we discussed, giving ourselves permission is key.

This pillar, “Self Care is Never Selfish”, involves finding ways to preserve our time and energy and to prioritize what we need to feel nourished, which is necessary for taking care of the most important person – YOU!

Stay tuned next Sunday as we discuss Pillar #3 of the “Year of the Best You” – Sleep.


Additional Resources

Anxiety BC – How to Do Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Greatist – 40 Ways to Relax in 5 Minutes or Less

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