We have all heard the advice to perform good self-care to stay healthy and happy. It sounds like good, reasonable advice until we find ourselves in the middle of a hectic schedule, and just working, managing the household, paying the bills, and attending to our primary relationships feels like all we can do before collapsing so we can do it all again tomorrow, and next week, and next month... Before you know it, you are existing. Your healthy and happy seems to be replaced by surviving, and self-care sounds great but who has the time, energy or money for that?! At this point, you feel like something is missing and it is. Your joy. I like to say that MOJO stands for more joy. Here are a few steps anyone can do to get back their Mo' Jo', and feel like their true vibrant self again.
1). Create "white space" in your calendar. Even a few minutes to eat slowly, take in some sun, listen to birdsong, pray, meditate, or daydream can have a major impact on your sense of wellbeing. Filling every moment of time creates a sense of urgency that fuels the stress response (fight-or-flight). The only purpose of fight or flight is to ensure survival. It works well, but at the cost of what we'd call thriving. Better to elicit the relaxation response (homeostasis) by moving at a non-urgent pace when you can, which is most of the time, thankfully. That brings us to the next step.
2). Focus on the blessing. A gentle shift in perspective can lead us out of the automatic pilot of survival mode, and into an expansive space of gratitude for the little things that add up to a rich life. Somedays this will be difficult, but it is a discipline worth cultivating. Breathing? notice the breath, something we take for granted until we can't do it. Walking? A gift. A bed to sleep in? You get the idea. "Count your blessings" may sound like hackneyed advice, but it sticks around because it works.
3). Soften the language of your thoughts. Ever notice how hard the words "gotta" and "should'" feel? As if they are chiseled into stone. How are these same tasks or desires different when they are framed as "I'm planning to do X" and "I'd like (or prefer) to". Yes, these are merely different words, but words have power and nuance. How we communicate with others and how we think makes a huge difference in how we feel and behave.
4). Move your body. Before you start getting a guilt complex about not going to the gym, or the extra inches at your belt line, just hear this: Moving your body can be in any manner or intensity level that works for you. A morning stretch, swaying to a favorite song, a stroll through the park, all can be refreshing, perspective shifting ways to feel new energy. If you are inclined to do more than that, do it. Intense regular exercise has great health benefits. Anything helps though, so be flexible in what you think of as movement.
5). Laugh. One thing that happens when we get into survival mode is that life becomes overwhelmingly serious. Finding some comic relief, especially in the most difficult or irritating moments, is actually a great coping strategy and this ability is associated with more resilience and better health outcomes. Laughing at the absurdity of a plan gone terribly wrong feels much better than "churning and burning" over it. Besides, its already done, right? Why ruin now over what we can't change from before. Which leads to our last step.
6). Accept the reality of linear time. We can't change the past. at all. Not one second of it. What we can do is develop wisdom and perspective for the present and future. So barring inventing a time machine, how do we accept losses born of mistakes and resulting from poor choices (our own or others')? Visit the past only as long as it takes to get the lesson. Otherwise the burdens of the past stay in the present because we carry them forward with us. Our power to do anything is only in THIS MOMENT. Not in the past, not in the future. Only now.
So there are 6 things anyone can do to help lift energy, improve mood, shift perspective, reduce stress and feel more blessed. What are some of your favorite ways to care for yourself?