What is Self-Care and Why is it Important?

Carrie Mead, MS
Professional Life Coach

Self-care is a buzzword that we have all heard but I wonder how many people really know what it means to care for one’s self.  I would wager to say that people talk much more about this topic than actually practice a regular and consistent self-care routine.  Statistics often speak louder than words and on Instagram alone, the hashtag #selfcare has been used more than 21 million times and the combined uses of all the self-care hashtags reach well over 30 million posts! So, it is evident that people are talking a lot about self-care but there’s no evidence that people are putting their words into action. 

To be clear, self-care is a concept, not an action. The concept of self-care is broad and highly individualized. The practice of self-care is unique to each of us. How much alone-time, girl-time, exercise, yoga, meditation, or hiking you need to feel rejuvenated and restored totally depends on you. Your version of self-care today may look completely different than it did a year ago or even one week ago.  And that is okay. You are growing and developing as a person and therefore your needs are changing too.  We all go through different seasons of life and in transition our needs change. The point is, you need to figure out what fills you up, lightens your load, and creates joy and ease in your life.  Only you know.

Today’s self-care could be 15 mins of silent meditation, running a marathon, serving hot meals to the homeless, or playing with your puppy. A year ago, self-care could have looked like a day at the spa, ice-fishing with your buddies, or reading a chapter from your new favorite self-help book. If you are a new parent or a working parent, self-care could just as easily be a long, hot, shower infused with essential oils, a trip to the grocery store alone, or an uninterrupted cup of hot coffee in the morning.  

As you can see, there is no right or wrong way to care for yourself. Ultimately, only you know what you need and only you can make self-care a priority. Your mother may buy you a gift certificate for a massage or your best friend may offer to babysit so that you and your spouse can enjoy a date night but you, and only, can make this happen.  

You have probably been putting your needs on the back-burner for a while. Be honest, how long has this been going on? What’s preventing you from taking better care of yourself? Is it guilt? Is it depression? It is feelings of unworthiness? It is anxiety or negative chatter in your head? Is it an unhealthy perspective on the importance of productivity and achievement?  The truth is that if you are not taking good care of yourself, you absolutely cannot take good care of anyone else. If you have people (or pets!) who depend on you, you owe it to them to take better care of yourself. When are you are feeling refreshed, reenergized, and joyful you are in a much better state to give lovingly to others. 

Take a minute to write down a few ideas for your self-care routine. What would you love to do if you found yourself with 15 minutes extra tomorrow morning? What would you love to do if an entire day opened up or imagine a whole weekend without any plans? Write down some ideas so that next time you find yourself with an unexpected opening in your schedule, you will know exactly what to do!

If you need help discovering who you are and what you need, contact me. Having an objective and wise guide on your path of self-discovery is a great idea. If you have been living on auto-pilot, you may have no idea who you are or what will revive your spirit. If you are transitioning into a new phase of life such as retirement or becoming an empty-nester, you may suddenly find yourself with an abundance of time. It’s too easy to fall into apathy and depression when you are unsure of your purpose in the world. I would love to help you rediscover yourself, your passions, and your God-given purpose. Contact me at: curiositylifecoaching@gmail.com to learn more. You and your loved ones deserve this, so don’t delay!

One final note. And it’s a serious one. If you are feeling like a lazy Sunday with your favorite book or a trip to Starbucks won’t satisify you self-care needs, you are may be suffering from depression, anxiety or some other significant mental illness. Don’t go at it alone. If you need help beyond the simple enery boosts I have provided here, please reach out to a professional mental health counselor. You can conect to someone in your area by using Psychology Today. You can also also access the Suicide Prevention Hotline or Crisis Text Line 24/7 from the USA. Let’s stop the stigma.

Carrie Mead is a Professional Life Coach, Psychotherapist, and Reiki practitioner based in Maryland. Carrie created Curiosity Life Coaching to help men and women successfully navigate major life transitions such as retirement, divorce, career changes, and loss. Carrie provides guidance, support and empowering exercises to help her clients redefine and enact on their life’s mission following a major life transition. Connecting authentically and compassionately forms the basis of all of Carrie’s personal and professional relationships. Carrie holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling from McDaniel College and a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Gettysburg College. Learn more by visiting www.curiositylifecoaching.com

Strategic Decision Making Skills

Have you ever had a difficult time making a decision? Perhaps you have rushed into a decision and then regretted it either instantly or months later. Maybe you are so indecisive that decisions simply never get made and you are left feeling stuck in your situation. Maybe you have made decisions that were in direct conflict with your long-term goals or vision for your life. With the countless decisions you have made in your life, have you ever stopped and wondered how these past decisions have impacted the trajectory of your life?

In our busy lives, decisions are made at rapid speed and they are often made without adequate thought and consideration of the consequences. How many times have you made an important decision while multi-tasking or, worse yet, when you were tired, hungry or emotional? I will be writing on more on this topic soon. Suffice to say, I am quite certain that if you have made decisions under these conditions then the results were less than stellar.

On the other hand, your decision-making skills may lean away from impulsive towards indecisive. Wavering minds have a tendency towards uncertainty, anxiety and self-doubt. If you are inclined towards indecisiveness, you probably spend countless hours lost in a barrage of ‘what ‘if’’ thinking that ultimately leaves you feeling anxious, depressed, tired, stuck and hopeless.  

No matter which is your dominant decision-making style, chances are, you have made some good decisions in your life and you have made some poor ones as well.  Have you ever stopped to consider the circumstances that lead to those good decisions or bad decisions? By exploring your past, you have rich and valuable information for your future. 

Below is an exercise that you can use for the purpose of self-discovery. As always, when setting off on a journey, you want to be prepared. This is as true for today’s journey as it would be for setting off on a road trip across the country. Preparation for today’s journey of self-discovery should include setting aside ample time for completing the exercise, being well rested and comfortable in your setting and being prepared to take notes. To get the most of out of this experience, you will also need to set aside time in a few days for reflection on the experience. 

Step 1: Start with free writing. Just jot down all those thoughts swirling around your mind, whatever they are. Those ‘things’ that if left unattended will distract you from being present in this moment. Once that list is complete, put it aside knowing that it will be there for you when you are done. Give thanks for the time are you taking for yourself and quiet your mind.

Step 2: Create two lists. One list will consist of the ‘good’ decisions you have made in recent memory. A good decision may have led a good night’s sleep, an awesome date with your spouse, paying off a debt early or saying no to someone or something unsavory. The other list will consist of all those ‘bad’ decisions you have made. Those decisions which moved you out of alignment with your goals. This list may include decisions which catapulted you further into debt or added 10lbs to your waist line or ended a healthy romantic relationship.

Step 3: Review these lists. What immediately comes to mind as you read and re-read them? Jot these intuitive thoughts down. If they do not make sense now, they might later. Remember, as part of your preparation, you are setting aside time to reflect on this experience later this week. Never dismiss your intuition.  Do you see patterns of behaviors that repeat themselves overtly or covertly as you reflect and review? Whatever your reaction, it’s important to honor and acknowledge it.  

Step 4: Now you are ready to delve into just one experience from each list. Start with whichever list you prefer and remember to take notes! Begin by recalling what was going on at the time you made this particular decision. Were you focused and thoughtful or were you rushed, harried or impulsive? Were you well-rested and clear minded or were you tired and pushed for time? Did you consult with someone you trusted before making this decision or did you trust only yourself? Did you listen to your intuition or did you ignore it? Were there red flags you chose to ignore? Did you consider how this decision aligned with your long and short-term goals? Were you multi-tasking or day dreaming at the time you made your choice or were you fully present in the moment? Carefully consider these questions as they will provide you with personal insight and a chance for transformation and growth.

Step 5: Now that you’ve recalled this experience, reflect on the end result and consequences of your decision. Were you surprised by the results? Did things happen as you planned? Did you get the result you were hoping for or did you miss the target? What advice could you offer your younger-self about this topic knowing all that you do now? What did you do well in this decision-making process? Has the impact of this decision been less or more than you anticipated?  Sometimes the most surprising thing that we learn is that you spend entirely too much time worrying about the wrong thing! Complete this exercise again choosing one event from your other list.

Step 6: Lastly, think about a decision you need to make now or in the near future. How can you apply the information you gleaned from this experience to your current situation? Do you have a new perspective on this situation? Do you have new insight about your decision-making patterns? Do you have a new skill or tool to use that you didn’t before? Is your intuition crying out to be heard or is fear’s voice the loudest? Is there a friend or mentor you can reach out to for advice?  Has anything shifted?

Wherever you are at this moment with your pending decision, take time to care for yourself by delaying your choice until you have slept well. Yes, you heard me, sleep first, decide later. Neuroscience and sleep research make it clear that decisions are best made after a good night’s sleep.  The simple reason is that during sleep the brain eliminates distractions from the day by filtering out the ‘useless’ information and stimuli you received during the day to make room for the important information to emerge. Just think of all the colors, sounds, and images you experience as you scroll through social media for a few minutes. Our brains are constantly processing this information and storing it until we sleep when these stimuli can be filtered, filed or let go. This clearing process, which happens during deep non-REM sleep, allows the important information of the day to come forth. Following a good sleep, you will often have a fresh perspective that biologically could not have existed the previous day. (For more on the importance of quality sleep I highly recommend the movie “Sleepless in America” by National Geographic and the National Institute of Health. The entire movie is available for free on Youtube or DVD from your local library).

One reason why people like you seek the support of a life coach is to learn effective decision-making skills. Poor decision-making skills adds immeasurable stress to your life and ultimately robs you of the peace you deserve. If any of the above scenarios resonate with you, life coaching can help. As your coach, I will come along aside you to offer space, time, fresh perspectives, empowerment trainings, brainstorming exercises and guidance as you determine if your current patterns of thoughts and behaviors are aligning you with your goals or moving you away from your desired outcomes. 

Decision-making skills can be learned and re-learned. They are teachable, adaptable and extremely important in your adult life. As a life coach and mental health therapist, I have borne witness to the impact a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ decision has on the trajectory of one’s life countless times. 

It is my greatest desire to assist you in making conscious, intentional and healthy choices for your life.  Want to know more about the benefits of life coaching, click below. I will be happy to offer you a complimentary first session so that you can experience the power of life coaching first-hand. You can reach me, Carrie C. Mead, by email at: curiositylifecoaching@gmail.com or at LinkedIn.

Carrie C. Mead, MS

Professional Life Coach

Certified Seasons of Change Coach