“Most of us live our lives as the human equivalent of smartphones running on 10 percent battery power. At any given time, you’re just an hour or so away from shutting off, but you insist on eking out a few more minutes in Low Power mode. Which means you’re slower than you need to be. Dimmer. You feel drained. Stressed out. Your processing time stinks. The truth is that you have battery chargers everywhere.” Sara Mednick, PhD
Self-care is our way of recharging our inner battery so we can live life to the fullest. We give ourselves the physical, mental, social, emotional, and spiritual resources we need in that moment. Instead of powering through on Low Power mode, we are energized with a full battery. This helps us be resilient so we can better cope with the challenges of life.
“We often sacrifice self-care because we’re too busy trying to save everyone else. But people have to learn their own lessons in life, however painful that is. Who are you to decide that you know what is right for them? Now that is selfish, as it’s based on your own desires for them, which may not truly be in their best interests.” Jo Ritchie
I spent many years trying to run other people’s lives as part of my need to know everything and do everything. I put out signals that I would put other people’s needs above my own and thus attracted people who were happy to have me do so. Now I see it was a distraction from focusing on myself, my vulnerabilities, and my needs. As long as I was taking care of other people, I could believe that I didn’t have time to take care of myself. And to strengthen that perception, our culture rewarded me to put others needs above my own.
According to Susannah Joy Winters, we are often in complete denial of what we need to do to take care of ourselves. We have ignored our palms getting sweaty or our stomach jumping into our throat so often we don’t notice it anymore. We are so busy anticipating the needs of others, that we can’t hear our own inner nurturer.
“When we stop numbing and start feeling and learning again, we have to reevaluate everything, especially how to choose loving ourselves over making other people comfortable.” Brene Brown
Jessica Brubaker says that when we are young, other people are responsible for our care. They have three jobs:
- Affirm us so we believe we are good enough
- Nurture us to meet our needs physically and emotional
- Set boundaries so we are safe and protected
But when we grow up, we become responsible for affirming ourselves, nurturing ourselves and setting boundaries for ourselves. In other words, taking care of ourselves. On our way to adulthood, we pass through adolescence, where we compare ourselves with others and find ourselves lacking. Thus, we enter adulthood feeling we are not worth our own time and energy. She asks:
- Have you ever done something for someone that you didn’t want to do?
- Have you ever eaten something you didn’t want to eat because someone made it for you or gave it to you?
- Have you ever exited a public restroom and apologized to the person waiting as if their need to use the restroom is more important than your need?
Self-care is being in a healthy and functional relationship with yourself. In this relationship, you affirm yourself, nurture yourself and set healthy boundaries.To do so you need to charge your batteries. Let look at the different places where you can find your battery chargers. Here are some less common battery chargers. For more ideas see Finding Your Battery Chargers.
Create a tranquil environment that you can go to recharge. It may be a place in nature or a room in your house. with restorative elements to counter mental fatigue and attention depletion. Researchers Rachel and Stephen Kaplan found that there are four essential elements of a restorative environment: a sense of getting away, a feeling of immersion, holding attention without effort, and compatibility with one’s preferences.
Allow yourself to be vulnerable even though it is scary as heck. While vulnerability is hard, if we can allow it, we increase our ability to let in love and joy. When we build up walls to keep the bad hidden, those walls also hide the good.
Slowly take off your armor. We all have armor that once protected us. But we continue letting it tether us down throughout our lives even though it no longer works and gets very heavy. Paradoxically, what we think is protecting us is preventing us from becoming the people we want to be.
Let go of perfectionism, it is an excuse we use to protect ourselves from getting hurt. Sometimes perfectionism prevents us from being seen. All humans are perfectly imperfect, so it is unrealistic to expect perfection from yourself. Always striving to be perfect is, quite frankly, unrealistic. Because guess what? We’re human. And one of our most decidedly human traits is that we are not perfect all the time.
“When perfectionism is driving, shame is always riding shotgun. And fear is the annoying backseat driver.” Brene Brown
Practice authenticity. We are not born with authenticity; it is a skill that we develop. It is slowing down enough to see who we want to be and having the courage to let go of the things that others want us to be.
“There are no authentic or inauthentic people. Authenticity is a practice, you choose it every day. Am I gonna show up and let myself be seen? That’s a choice.” Brene Brown
Share your story. If you curate your life story, no one will get to know the authentic you. If you have enough courage to share both your joys and sorrows, your strengths and weaknesses, people will see the true you thus increasing your connection to them. Remember that curating your life is the near enemy of connection – we think it connects us but it actually hinders our connection.
Receive the love that comes to you
Ask for what you need but are afraid to ask for
Laugh every single day.
“Incorporating humor and laughter into your life can help lighten your mood and provide a temporary break from life’s stresses and upsets. Laughter can actually trigger the release of the brain chemical serotonin, which, in turn, decreases depression. Laughter and humor don’t just make you feel better emotionally, but they can help you breathe more fully and help your heart function better with more oxygenated blood pumping through the body. Laughter can shield the blood vessels and heart muscles from cardiovascular disease by having an anti-inflammatory effect. Make the conscious choice to bring that levity into your life for at least 10 minutes per day through a humorous podcast, comedians, sitcoms, jokes, and so on, to make you feel better physically and emotionally.” —Yvonne Thomas, PhD,
Getting Started Recharging Your Batteries
To get started with a routine to recharge your batteries:
- Take time to reflect on the questions under Ask Yourself on Finding Your Battery Chargers. add link
- Look through the ideas to Consider on Finding Your Battery Chargers, see what you are already doing, and congratulate yourself for doing stealth self-care.
- Consider what activities, or belief changes will bring you the most joy, replenish your energy, and restore your balance.
- Start small by choosing one behavior you’d like to incorporate into your routine in the next week.
- Build up to practicing that behavior every day for one week.
- Reflect on how you feel.
- Add in additional practices when ready.
We have explored ways of recharging our inner energy so we can live life to the fullest. If we begin by believing that we are worth it, we can give ourselves the physical, mental, social, emotional, and spiritual resources we need. So, instead of powering through and running on Low Power mode, we are energized with a charged battery. This helps us be resilient so we can better cope with the challenges of life.