There’s an old joke that goes like this:
A woman prays every day to win the lottery. Day after day, she prays, “God please let me win the lottery”. Finally, one day, god calls down to the woman and says, “Lady, can you help me out and buy a ticket?”
As someone people come to for care, I ask, can you help me out?
Many of my clients come to me because they are in physical or emotional pain. Very often I can help, but help is the key word. I really can’t do it all. Your life is your responsibility, and caring for yourself is vital if you want to be well. A wonderful team that you trust to give advice and care can help to keep you healthy. But ultimately you must be in charge of your own health, which may require making changes in your life. If you need rest, you have to be the one who sleeps more. If you need more enjoyment, you are the one who must take the time to have more fun.
If you are not taking good care of yourself, there will be a limit to how much anyone else can do for you - whether your surgeon, your therapist, or your chiropractor.
Recently a woman who had been in pain for quite some time contacted me seeking care. I asked her, “What have you done in response to your pain?” She began rattling off a list of practitioners she had seen - chiropractor, acupuncturist, shiatsu masseuse, medical intuitive, and several others. I asked her what she herself had done, what changes she had made to her daily life, and she looked at me with confusion, not understanding what I meant. I went on: what kind of self-care did she do? Did she rest? Did she meditate? Did she apply heat to the pain? Did she take a bath? Did she finally have a difficult conversation she had been putting off for years? Had she taken the time to consider the possible root cause of the pain? She didn’t have an answer.
Pain is your body’s way of letting you know that something is amiss. Experiencing pain means that - whether on the physical, emotional, mental or spiritual level - something in your life needs to be addressed. When you feel pain, your body is saying, “Hey! Wake up!! I need something!” To figure out what that something is, you must learn to look inward. One of the best ways I have found to do that is through self-care.
Here are a few easy ways to start practicing self-care.
- Try taking daily bath, in hot, sudsy water.
- A nap can be a great way to recharge. Rather than reaching for another cup of coffee, give yourself permission to take a short nap during the day.
- Meditation is a great way to slow down and reconnect with yourself. Here are a few simple meditations to get you started:
- Conduct a three-minute body scan upon waking.
- Practice early morning gratitude meditation. Upon waking, notice 5 things you are grateful for right in this moment. You can even write them down.
- Try a five-minute seated meditation in which you quietly notice your thoughts and practice letting them go. Over time, increase the length of the meditation.
- Yoga is a moving meditation, whether you do it at home or in a class.
You may be in need of some physical activity to get you back in to your body. If you feel heavy or lethargic, or if your thoughts seem cloudy, consider trying the following:
- Head outside and take a brisk walk.
- Go for a bike ride around your neighborhood.
- Take a dance class, or turn on music that makes you feel like moving, and just dance around the house by yourself.
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
Nature is very healing. Even if you live in an urban place without much greenery, spending time in nature can be as simple as going to a park, or even leaning against a tree while waiting for the bus. If you live in the suburbs, find opportunities to get out of the car or the house. Walk on the grass in your bare feet. Plant a garden, large or small.
- Pick up a craft project you have been meaning to finish or wanting to start.
- Learning a new skill, especially one that allows you to express your creative side, can be transformative. Try knitting or sewing, taking a pottery class, or learning a new language.
- Or buy a can of paint and take a brush to that beige wall you’ve always thought would look great in canary yellow.
- Cleaning, organizing, re-arranging furniture - all of these transformations of the space around you are creative acts that can bring freshness and ease into your life.
COOKING AND EATING INTENTIONALLY
Take the time to eat healthily. If that feels too daunting, start with a few healthy changes in your diet. The act of cooking, whether for yourself or someone else, is an opportunity to slow down and savor the delight of creating great food.
You get the idea.
When you are in distress, take good care of yourself. As a health care provider I am on your team, and you are the team leader.