“What do you do when life blindfolds you and spins you around? We think it’s our fault, that we’re to blame, when really we should be focused on being gentle with ourselves.” – Melody Beattie
In my last blog post, Getting Past a Funk, I described recent hard times that led me to see a counselor. In one of the sessions, I told the counselor that I’d been unable to write or go running. She suggested that I say affirmations. I’m familiar with affirmations, and in the past, mine included the following:
- I love to run! I run several times a week.
- It is easy for me to run, and I enjoy it.
- I love to write. I write for pay and publication.
- I write something beautiful for God every day. (Adapted from a quote by Mother Theresa.)
So when I most needed these affirmations, why wasn’t I saying them? I think sometimes we get preoccupied when we are facing difficulties, and we forget to take care of ourselves.
It would have helped if I’d remembered a list my friend Sarah gave me several years ago, after my father and a family friend passed away on the same day. The list was titled, “Be Gentle with Yourself, Sue.” Sarah’s thoughtfulness and concern were as helpful as the ideas included.
The list includes reminders to say affirmations, along with other ways to pamper and care for ourselves. I offer it to you, with Sarah’s permission. We hope it benefits you someday if you are going through hard times. (Seek professional help for a crisis situation or serious depression.) I have adapted the list somewhat, but most of the ideas are from Sarah.
BE GENTLE WITH YOURSELF. . .
- Curl up in a blanket and have a cup of tea, coffee, or hot chocolate.
- Take a nap anytime you need to.
- Call a friend.
- Take a walk. Fresh air and exercise will help.
- Close your eyes, breathe and think of five things to be grateful for.
- Do the bare minimum on your list of things to do.
- Cross off the things on your list that really aren’t that important.
- Sit and do nothing but stare into space and be OK with that.
- Cry if you want to.
- Read a really good book—guilt free—who cares if the laundry didn’t get done!
- Take a long bath or a hot shower.
- Read your Bible.
- Read your affirmations.
- Repeat one of your affirmations over and over even if you aren’t buying into it at the moment.
- Write an affirmation on an index card, keep it in your purse or your pocket, pull it out and read it several times a day.
- Ask for help—maybe a friend or relative can be your rock for a while.
- Make yourself a really great meal or a really great snack.
- Light candles at random times during the day.
- Light a candle and have a glass of wine while you cook.
- Have a glass of water, milk, or a smoothie in one of your favorite wine glasses. That also can feel special.
- Write in your journal or art journal.
- Go to a pretty spot on a sunny day. Nature can be very healing!
- Go to a pretty spot and journal or walk.
- Be OK with yourself if you aren’t “up to par” lately.
- Dress in cozy clothes like fleece or pajamas and stay home.
- Treat yourself to lunch or a specialty coffee.
- If you have a fireplace or fire pit, light a fire and enjoy.
- Color, make a collage, or do other art or craft work that you enjoy.
- Have a piece of chocolate.
- Cuddle with your dog.
- Listen to a guided meditation.
- And don’t hesitate to see a counselor.
Do you say affirmations? Do you have other suggestions for being gentle with ourselves during tough times?