Saturday, June 2, 2018

How to Take Really Good Care of Yourself on the Off Days

My Kodi girl
So this week didn’t go at all like I planned. I had a great post on self-care and even planned a Live video in my Essentials for Living a High Vibe FB group to show you what’s in my Off-Day Kit. But the Universe had other plans. 

Like I had to make the heartbreaking decision to let my senior dog go. Thank goodness my husband and I are such a good team because having discussed the inevitable ahead of time made the process not easy, but bearable. My precious Kodi girl had a bad health episode a couple months ago and we nursed her through it, but the vet warned we could expect a repeat in the future. Our Alaskan Malamute was almost 13 years old, had progressive arthritis, among other old dog issues, and well, no one lives forever. So, we sat down and talked about it several times over the last two months. So when Kodi fell ill again this past Sunday, we were prepared, although anxious. I still held out hope we could nurse her through this. 

Unfortunately, things didn't work out the way we'd hoped and there we were, staring at death's door. :-( We followed our plan and we both held her as she slipped away. For me it was important to be by her side right to the end...and I was.
I see so clearly now in the immediate aftermath of Kodi’s passing how getting clear about my core values informs and sustains me. We all have to make hard decisions in our lives and we will second guess ourselves at times, so its really important for us to know who we are, what we value, and that we are mere humans doing the best that we can. Because when the storms of doubt blow through, you'll need a rock solid foundation to keep you grounded.

I’ve had to dig into my self-care arsenal these last few days, and I’m sure I will need all my off-day tricks in the days, weeks, and months to come. The ones that have come in most handy are:

1) Know yourself. This sounds like a strange self-care item, but it's actually the most important thing you can do for your wellbeing, next to loving yourself. Get to know yourself. Right now, before the hard things happen, sit down with a cup of tea and explore this person you're becoming, because we're always in a state of becoming. We are not static, fixed relics. We are living, breathing, in-the-works collaborative pieces of art designed by a Creator who knows a lot more about life and living than we will ever be able to fathom. Figure out what your top 3 priorities in life are, what you believe in, what you don't like, and where you're headed. Dig deep. Make the process of getting to know yourself an ongoing thing, because it is. The relationship you have with yourself informs absolutely everything in your life, including and especially your most intimate relationships with others. And when you have to make hard decisions, you'll be able to trust that whatever you decide to do, it's in alignment with who you really are. And that goes a long way in comforting you in the aftermath, believe me.

How do you get to know yourself? All kinds of ways. Keep a journal, but ask yourself important questions like "Do I believe in God? A sentient Universe that guides and assists? If not, why not? If not, what do I believe in?" Hint: you have to believe in something, even if it's just yourself. Stuff like that. Take yourself out on dates. Go to lunch with yourself, go to museums, concerts, and other things that you're curious or intrigued by. Don't just go where you've always gone, explore, step outside your normal routine and see what clicks with you. You don't know what will appeal until you give it a try. There are many other ways to get to know yourself, but these two activities will get you started. The rest will flow naturally out of your curiosity. Be open and as non-judgmental as you can be. 

2) Self-acceptance. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Acknowledge you are doing the best that you can and things will work out. They really will. Be gentle with yourself, love yourself, and forgive yourself. Curl up on the couch with loved ones and watch an old favorite, comforting movie and give yourself the space and time to process in your own way.

3) Long showers. Yes, I ran the hot water out twice this week. I play mantras and sing along with them and let the emotions ebb and flow. Try it. Water is emotionally as well as physically cleansing.

4) Take time off. While you may think you can’t afford it, you can and should take a mental health day. Cancel appointments, politely bow out of meetings or other obligations. The world will not end, the people will get over it, and you don’t even have to explain yourself. You can spend the day taking really good care of yourself. If you feel any guilt about taking a day off, keep this in mind: a single day off can recalibrate your mental, emotional, AND physical well-being so you can perform better at your various jobs and life roles. Otherwise, you’ll limp along until you have a major crash that will have a much bigger impact on your health, your family, your relationships, and your career. Take the day off. Everyone will benefit. 

5) Meditate. And I don’t mean on the off days. Meditate every single day, even if it’s just for 3 breaths. Let’s do it now:  
Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Done. Do it again tomorrow. And the next day. And the next. You see, if you only meditate when you “need” to, you won’t reap the amazing rewards you could if you’d been practicing all along. What I discovered this morning is my regular meditation on the ordinary days, even when I felt like I didn’t have time or the desire, prepared me. It prepared me to enter that space of peace and healing when I really, really needed it and didn’t think I could.

When you’re hurting, anxious, depressed, or angry it can feel impossible to find your center. That’s why you have to meditate now and every day. I avoided my meditation practice the last couple days and I wish I hadn’t because this morning when I started my guided meditation on grief (see the Headspace app) I felt myself sink into that quiet space and it was so peaceful I cried, but they were tears of relief. Meditation isn’t magic. It’s real, palpable medicine. 

6) Be there for a friend. When you’re having a bad day, it may not always be possible depending on what’s happening but if you can, reach out to a friend you know is hurting or struggling. Go have lunch together. Go for a walk together. You don’t even have to talk about specifics, just be there for someone else and you’ll find your own struggle easing, the load will lift. Helping is healing, my friends. The funny thing is lately I’ve found I don’t even need to search out a friend to help; it’s as if the Universe conspires for them to be there at the right time. Or maybe I've just made some great friends. ❤️😉

7) Clean, Declutter, & Organize. When I need to clear out mental space, I find it incredibly helpful to clear out physical space. I recommend starting with something personal, like your closet. But if your entire closet feels overwhelming, start with a sock drawer, your jewelry box, or your makeup bag. Dump out all the contents on your bed, then sort into four piles: love, like, toss, donate. Don't think about it, let your feelings lead. How does it feel when you hold that item? Don't think about how much you spent on it: guilt is non-productive in this case. If it's broken but you love it and it gives you that jolt of joy when you hold it, see if you can repair it. Old tattered concert t-shirt make you feel all warm and fuzzy? Keep it! Brand new $100 pair of shoes leaves you cold? Take them to a consignment shop to recoup some of your money. Then figure out why you bought them if you didn't absolutely love them so you don't make that mistake again. 

Revisit the "like" pile and hold each item one more time. If you don't love it, why can't you let it go? It's okay to put those items in a box and set it aside for three months. If you never have the urge to go get them after 3 months, let them go. And finally, clean the drawer before you put your loved items neatly back. Make sure your new arrangement is pleasing to your eye. You want your mind to be at ease when it scans that drawer or jewelry box.

These are a few of my go-to Off-Day Kit strategies and practices. So, maybe I've had more than a simple "off day" this past week, but the same comforting practices work for the really bad days, too. I urge you to create your own Off-Day Kit right this minute. if you don't know where to start, copy mine and see where that leads you. I don't mind at all. :-) But don't just say "Okay, yeah, that's my Off-Day Kit." Write it down someplace you can always find it. I use Evernote.

Do you already have some off-day care strategies? If so, I'd love to know what they are. Let us know in the comments and keep the conversation going.

Much love and light to you!

Peace out.

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  1. Two of my big go tos for off days are meditation and reading. If I’m in excruciating pain, or I’m really overwhelmed, I find escapism helps me enormously. I also have been using Headspace and I pray the rosary. I don’t spend a lot of time on the mysteries when I go through the rosary, I use the Hail Mary as a mantra, and I find it comforting. Sometimes I get my tarot cards out, sometimes I listen to music. My go to for stress days is a Bob Marley playlist I found on Apple Music.

    1. I love everything about this. ❤️ thank you for sharing.


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