Thanks for coming by and checking out the next installment of the Self-Care Challenge!  Tomorrow we begin our second week in a month of exploring some practices that help us to sustain in the hard work of keeping our hearts engaged. If you haven’t already, you can download the Keeping Your Heart – Self Care Challenge 2019 pdf for the month and calendar the process in any way that you wish!

I’m hoping you had a chance to look through the first seven practices on Week #1 of the challenge (if you have, please let me know what you learned about yourself), but even if you haven’t, it’s perfectly acceptable to jump in and start exploring now!

So here is Week #2 and the practices that we will focus on for the next seven days:

1.   Take a walk during lunch or after dinner Physical
2.   Find a fun DIY on YouTube and see if you are inspired Mental
3.   Meal Prep for the week Physical/Mental
4.   Create or find a resiliency object Spiritual
5.   Try a new recipe Mental
6.   Make a coffee/tea date with someone who makes you laugh Relational
7.   Facial/fun skin care Physical

To flesh out some details, I’ll unpack each one a little bit below:

  1. Take a Walk
    This one is actually going to be a difficult one for me. When I think about taking the time to take a walk outside, the first thought that goes through my head is “oh, I don’t have the time to waste on that.” Cue the blinking “IRONY” light as I realize that I have no problem spending 30 minutes watching YouTube or a sitcom.I think we all know the benefits of walking, of taking a break, changing one’s scenery, getting some air, noticing nature. So why is this so hard? I think it feels a little indulgent in some ways, and I mean, I do live in Southern California, and there is a whole song about how “nobody walks in LA.”

    But what it tells me is that this is a great opportunity for me to see how changing the rhythm of my day can make a positive impact and a new perspective. How about you? Is this already part of your practice? If so, please share how you see it impacting your health (mental, physical, or spiritual)!

  2. Find a fun DIY on YouTube
    Learning a new skill and engaging in a creative endeavor is a great opportunity to remind yourself that you can figure things out and that you have problem-solving skills! When one has been functioning as a caregiver that has to remain hypervigilant for emerging issues, one’s view can get very narrow and myopic. One can also find themselves feeling hopeless as the path to healing seems to stretch out forever with no end in sight. Starting and completing a task that brings something new into existence can open up that viewpoint and affirm a sense of satisfaction and completion; a sense that is not usually experienced in the marathon pace of caregiving.

    YouTube is a great place to find some DIYs! I learned how to make all sorts of things there. Here is one of my tutorials for creating a fun envelope to send Happy Mail to a penpal (in case you are looking for some inspiration)!

  3. Meal Prep for the Week
    This has been a significant source of peace for me when I have spent a block of time on one day to do the planning and preparation for the week. It is so life-giving to me knowing that we can avoid the “what’s for dinner” question, that we’ve made purchases based on a budget (and not an impulse food purchase out of hunger, which is usually more expensive and less healthy), and that the energy that would have to go to being creative or making an on the spot plan can be used to take a needed moment or breath.

    I have a couple of sources that I go to for planning meals and I plan to feature that in a future “Sunday Setup” YouTube video, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

    Have you Meal Prepped in advance before? How was it for you?  If you haven’t, what would you need to start?

  4. Create or Find a Resiliency Object
    When I am teaching the Self-Care and Compassionate Mindset module of my Building Trauma-Informed Enviroments Workshop, I like to add a picture to the slide to illustrate resiliency objects. It is of violets in front of a brick wall and I remark that having pictures of beauty and order around us help to remind us that when things are dark and chaotic that we experience both in this world and we don’t stay in one state or the other. So the picture is to remind me that what I am facing will pass and that there is beauty to be found all around in the world that is bigger than just the suffering that I am encountering. With that truth in front of me, I can stay present with those I am serving and in the midst of our shared pain, because I know that it is not forever.

    What I am facing will pass – there is beauty to be found all around in the world that is bigger than just the suffering that I am encountering.

    Find a picture or an object that you can keep nearby so that when you are feeling your edge creep up, you can be reminded that you can do the hard thing.

    Do you have a resiliency object? If not, I’ll be creating some images to go on my etsy page for download and printing and will update this post when they are available. In the meantime, enjoy this one and feel free to download it if it is helpful for you.

  5. Try a new recipe
    I know cooking is not everyone’s favorite thing, so if you are looking at this one and thinking, “nope. Not gonna,” hey, that’s totally okay. However (you knew it was coming), learning something new helps you with your problem-solving skills, it’s affirming to know that you can provide sustenance for yourself, and if you do better cooking or baking with someone, this could be a self-care practice that you can share with another person.

    If you ever seen one of those cooking examples on social media and thought “wow, that looks so yummy!” then maybe this is your opportunity to try something new, get creative, and uncover a new aspect or skill.

    Not to mention, using our hands and completing a project are two ways that we can physically engage in the “beginning, middle, end” cycle of completing a project. When you are the caregiver of a chronically ill person or a child who has experienced trauma, there doesn’t usually feel like there is a positive end in sight, so getting to experience that complete cycle is important part of the effort of increasing our capacity to stay in the midst of the process that is taking longer. Even if it is a huge disaster, we can celebrate that we got the end and that can be enough for the moment.

    What will you make?

  6. Coffee/Tea Date
    Prior even to the FRIENDS crew hanging around the Central Perk and the explosion of Starbucks properties, one of my favorite things as a young adult was to go to boho coffee shops with my friends, grab a drink, and sit on an overstuffed couch or chaise lounge (preferably upholstered in purple velveteen) and talk through our crazy dreams and hopes for the future. I remember us laughing at the silliest things, but then being able to share our lives with each other because our laughter disarmed our fear.

    Maybe in the most recent season, you’ve faced some things that have pulled you toward fear and into a place where you are experiencing a stress response and hypervigilance. In that space, being open and vulnerable is dangerous. In that space, we have to keep our guard up and watch for the next threat, poor prognosis,  or heartbreaking circumstance. But we can’t stay at that level of activation for too long without developing toxic stress, so we need to find ways of engaging in healthy and hopeful relationships.

    Laughing and playfulness have no room for fear. Those states literally disarm the fear response on a biological level, increasing our capacity for connection, empathy, and perspective.

    So I encourage you to think of a friend who makes you laugh and is safe, then make a plan for a coffee/tea (or wine, I won’t judge) date, either in person or FaceTime/Skype and let yourself laugh and dream out loud.

  7. Facial or Skin Care
    Yes! Another froo-froo practice! Well, maybe. This practice can be any level of complicated that you would like. Maybe it is booking an actual facial at a spa (take me with you!!!) or it is just finding a new facewash and moisturizer that makes your skin feel and look more like you remember.

    The point is to be intentional and remember that it is not just okay, but important for your to pay attention to your needs. It’s a good thing to take the time to think about what would give us a healthy glow on our face; take a moment and imagine how it would feel to take the time needed to enjoy some breathing and rest while we enjoyed the release of the muck and death that is part of the process and then  see what new and beautiful thing is revealed! Let that be a microview of the process of working toward healing that you are either on personally or alongside someone else.

    So find that unicorn sparkle facial mask, book that appointment, or try that new exfoliator and shed the death, nurish the new life. (Pics, or it didn’t happen).

As usual, I’d love to hear about your experience with these and which practices excite you and which make you a little nervous to try. Let me know below and don’t forget to post a picture or share a written experience on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, or in the comments section of using the hashtags #keepingyourheart #renaemdupuis #selfcarechallenge2019 and tagging @keepingyourheart you’ll get an entry into a drawing that will occur on or before April 2, 2019.

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