Self-care, THE number one most important hyphenated word of 2022!
Self-care is the most easily implemented practice available to us for creating a balanced, peaceful, and more productive life.
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Although we may see examples of self-care routines involving elaborate “morning rituals” including avocado toast, hour-long yoga, and meditation practices – followed by long walks on the beach, this is not realistic or necessary to gain the immense benefits that come from caring for ourselves!
A simple one-minute daily breathing exercise, putting our technology away an hour before bed, and getting outside for 10 minutes daily are all quick and easy steps we can take to begin our practice of self-care this year!
An Overstimulating Environment
Our minds and bodies are often overwhelmed by the world that we live in today. The incredible technology we have is extremely useful, however, our brains and bodies are not designed to receive information at such a fast-paced rate while being increasingly more inactive physically.
I am sure many of us recall going to a library to get an actual book to find the information we needed to complete school assignments. As Paralegals, we use books, but most of our research has been streamlined by the amazing legal search engines that are available to us now. While this is helpful, it can also overstimulate our brain circuitry!
Fortunately, because this world at times can feel overwhelming, there are many quick and easy actions we can take to care for ourselves and create a better immediate world to live in! Our immediate world is the physical, mental, and spiritual space we are currently in and experiencing.
Can you imagine being able to experience an incredibly stressful event and not experiencing the physical and emotional response that would typically come with it? This is possible!
The Impact of Carrying Others’ Emotional Baggage
As Paralegals, we are constantly exposed to others’ emotions which in turn can elicit emotions within us without our conscious awareness. Human beings in general are very empathetic, and by showing empathy for others, we can absorb the stress and feelings of others. This can cause stress in both our minds and bodies that aren’t even a part of our own life experience.
By practicing self-care, we can become aware of these automatic reactions we have when we are helping clients, and we can learn to respond and not internalize the emotions that do not belong to us. This will help us two-fold!
- Helping us to focus more on the technical parts of our cases
- Helping us to be more responsive rather than reactive in our own lives
Understand Your Importance
Take a moment and think about how important you are to others. Your parents, your children, your animals, your family members, and the people you serve in your career.
Now look at the importance you place on yourself and your well-being right at this moment. Are they congruent? For most of us, the answer is no.
Everyone is familiar with the speech we are given on a flight. In case of emergency, secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others. These are especially important instructions for our lives also. If we are depleted, rundown, and stuck in a stress response, we cannot fully give to others or ourselves.
You are so incredibly important in this world for so many reasons! Most of all, just because you simply exist, you have an inestimable value that words cannot describe or capture. So much of our value in life is placed on our accomplishments or other external values. These are fleeting attributes and do not accurately express who we are truly at the core of our being.
When we do not feel like we are enough, this can reflect on our choices in our lives. When we accept our value, we can begin to start placing importance back on ourselves. We can make choices to create time to take care of and honor our body, mind, and spirit.
By taking 10 minutes out of your day habitually, you subconsciously create a pattern of recognizing and honoring all you are.
You deserve to be a priority in your life!
The Benefits of Taking Care of You
Let us change the dynamic for 2022 to that of loving ourselves, recognizing our value, and acting upon taking care of ourselves!
We are responsible for our lives. We are responsible for our actions and the energy we bring into our interactions with others and our expression in the world.
I encourage you to find the empowerment to create your self-care regime into your life this year and practice it daily!
You will find more patience, more time, and better overall health by implementing self-care!
You will also find a more centered, calm, and empowered part of you.
You will be able to communicate more effectively and show much more patience and care for others because you will learn to be responsive instead of reactive.
You will perform better at work because you are honoring yourself and your time.
Even if these changes are very subtle in the beginning, as time goes on, they will become more profound.
Where Does Self-Care Matter?
Remember, self-care is present in all aspects of our lives. Here are 5 areas to focus on:
- Financial self-care can be the act of consciously spending and saving. Being aware of your debt and income. Making purchases that are both beneficial and necessary.
- Mental self-care can be accepting help in therapy or support groups if wanted or needed.
- Spiritual self-care can be finding something that speaks to your soul like organized religion or maybe a spiritual practice. It can be mediation which can take place both seated or even moving. Volunteering your time to a cause you believe in can also fuel your soul while changing someone’s life! There are many ways to honor your spiritual practice.
- Physical self-care can be moving daily. Going for a walk, participating in sports, organized or otherwise, yoga, lifting weights. Any physical movement to allow your body to do what it is designed to do. Eating in a way that makes the most sense for your body and by eating whole unprocessed real foods as often as possible. These are the foods our cells in our bodies can recognize and help us live our healthiest lives!
- Loving and honoring your whole self. You are so important in this world and to so many people! Even if no one tells you this today, you are valuable beyond measure and your very presence here brings value to the world!
Recommended Self-Care Routines
☐ Take 3 deep belly breaths anytime during the day. Breathe through your nose and let your belly extend with air. Breathe out slowly and purposefully through your nose.
☐ Whenever the feeling of upset, anger or frustration begins, just simply become aware that it is there. This is a first step in awareness and witnessing. You do not have to do anything with this, just witness it in a non-biased and non-judgmental way as if it is the noise of an appliance running or the click of the heater turning on and off. It just is as it is, no need to do anything about it or change it.
☐ Get outside for at least 10 minutes during the day. Become aware of the sky, the ground, the sounds, any signs of nature, and life just existing.
☐ Learn to say no to anything you are accepting based on obligation. For example, social obligations. We all have those invites that we do not want to accept, but we accept anyways out of feeling obligated or feeling guilty. Give yourself permission to say no to these requests as often as the opportunity arises.
☐ Unplug from electronics at least an hour before bedtime.
☐ Choose a date night or day with yourself. Take time to do something that you want to do strictly for yourself. Allow yourself permission to do this as if it is the most important task of your week. It is!
☐ Try something new. Go for a walk at a different park or hike in a different spot. Take a Yoga class with a new teacher or take your first Yoga class if you never have taken one. Try a new gym or a new exercise class. Set a time and date to do this and follow through with it.
☐ Meditate. If you do not already have a mediation practice, begin this as a once-a-week practice. Remember, mediation does not necessarily mean sitting still. Anything that allows you to practice mindfulness for at least 30 minutes is a gamechanger. A walk-in nature, listening to music, binaural beats, frequency sounds, even a relaxing run (if you enjoy running) all count as mediation.
☐ Have a day with loved ones. Create a routine where you spend time with family or friends once a week. Do this in whatever way you are able. If your family lives out of state, reach out and call close family members once a week. If your family relationships are nonexistent or strained, do this with friends.
☐ Simplify your space. Physical clutter in your space can exacerbate mental clutter. Donate, gift, or throw away unnecessary items. Do this in your home and workspace. If this sounds overwhelming, remember, one big clearing is all you need. As you begin to do this monthly, it will never accumulate as much as it did when you started this new routine.
☐ Release. If you do not already write in a journal, start this practice beginning once a month. Sit down and let your heart pour out on the paper. You can bun the paper afterward if you do not feel comfortable leaving your deepest thoughts written down. The point of this activity is to release emotions, thoughts, and heaviness in your heart. Be as petty or judgmental as you feel if you are upset. Do not judge it, just free it.
☐ Appreciate. After 21 days of keeping commitments to your self-care, you will have inadvertently created more trust in yourself because of your consistent follow-through! Appreciate yourself, your learning experiences, and your growth. Ask yourself what is next for this new year? Write it down but do not be concrete in how you will bring it to fruition. You will be surprised how success arrives. It may come in an entirely separate way than you think at the time. Being open-minded to new experiences and methodology can create space to allow you to achieve in ways you may not currently see.
☐ Take a trip. Go somewhere you have always wanted to go. If there are financial or other restraints on travel, take a road trip and explore a new place in a new city or the next closest state! Allow yourself to be present in your explorations as if you are taking in as much information as possible to absorb the entire experience. Bring awareness to nature, people, and culture. There is so much we can learn from others. Embrace differences!
You can download your copy of the self-care checklist above to get started on these important self-care routines. I am so excited for you to begin or continue your self-care practice!
Please comment below ways you are currently implementing or will begin to implement your self-care regime for 2022!
Meet the Author
Heather Gonzalez is a Certified Paralegal. She owns Pennington and Associates L.L.C. This business is a freelance company offering Paralegal, Notary, Signing Agent and Field Agent services throughout the United States.