“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?
Love this list for self care! It’s easier for us to do these things when we feel good but so much harder to keep it up when times are hard. Thanks for sharing.
I love this list! I would add putting some music on. Nothing uplifts me more than music. I particularly like Christian Rock, or Christian music. I also am partial to music I can sing with. A good female vocalist like Celine Dion or Carol King where I can belt along beside them.
I love this idea, Cathy! Thank you.
What a wonderful list.
A walk, just down the street or into nature almost always works – and giving myself permission to cry.
What a beautiful list, with so many amazing choices to call on. I was recently in a “flu” funk and was very down and thought I would never get out of it. What I have learned with all the healing work I have done is to just “be” with it and not to judge it. Although I may not “like” it, (that is kind of a judgement I guess), I know that in the quiet and the acceptance of it, there is something to learn and something waiting on the other side. The only way out of it, is actually through it, and that means acknowledging it, experiencing it and trusting it. One of the mantras I have adopted in my life is “there is always enough time for everything”. That is used in times of feeling like many things are piling up and I am pressed for time. I also love getting outside, walking and being in nature. Nature is a great elixir if we let it be. I love #8 on the list too. Sit and do nothing and stare into space and be okay with it. That’s such a key point. Be okay with whatever is. Thanks for sharing this list! I really appreciate it and LOVE it, Sue.
Beverley, that’s a good point, to let ourselves feel what we’re feeling and to accept that as OK–even if it’s something like the flu. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
These are very nice ways to give yourself a little love and support. I call them the feminine rituals…the things that nourish the spirit and body, get me out of my thinking head or doing external work, etc. But to be in flow with creativity and nature, etc.. These are times we are more apt to hear our inner guidance too. Very nice. I also enjoy running and it is time of escape and I feel like I am caring for my body with exercise in nature.
Sue this is a terrific list. The two things I do that always bring me back to center are writing in my journal and getting outside for a nice long walk with my sweet little dog.
I’m going to ask your forgiveness now, and no disrespect to your counselor, but I need to say a word about affirmations because this is a real hot button for me. Here’s my problem with this strategy – you can say positive affirmations until you are blue in the face but if what you’re saying doesn’t mesh with your internal belief system it’s not going to do a bit of good. For example, let’s say someone uses affirmations to attract love, or even to foster self-love, but they have internal limiting beliefs that they don’t deserve to be loved, then it’s like driving a car with one foot on the gas and the other on the break. The belief needs to be changed and that requires doing the inner work to get to the source of the problem. Whew! Again, I apologize but just needed to share that. 🙂
Thank you, Marquita. Yes, I discussed that with my counselor, that I’ve had this block about writing for a long time, and I didn’t think ONLY saying affirmations was going to fix it. She and I are working together to change my beliefs about how I need and want to be in the world.
I am just getting over a cold/flu thing. Even though I know that when I’m sick I end up feeling depressed, i have been believing my negative thoughts. Instead of accepting that I’m tired and need a nap, I tell myself I’m lazy. Your last two posts have really helped me to shift my perspective and not be so hard on myself. Thank you!
I love this comment its so true and yet when times get tough taking care of ourselves is normally the last thing we do. I will definitely be using some of these tips.
Oh so very true, and every time I most need to remember this of course I forget it so thank you for this beautiful reminder ♡
When I don’t have the best mood, I love connecting to the nature. It reminds me how much beauty there is around me and why those tears should go away. Also emotional relief is awesome through personal expression. Keep shining!
Hi Susan, I love this post. It’s true that when we need it most, sometimes we forget to be self-loving, but, that, of course, is natural, since we are ‘low’ and prone to our not-so-helpful tendencies at that time. It’s kind of paradoxical, isn’t it? I especially love the self-loving items on the list, the ones that help us be gentle with ourselves. I am sorry you experienced a day with two such tragic events. Thank you for sharing that lovely gift of Sarah’s list! xo, Reba
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