Here’s the next installment of the Self-Care Challenge! where we explore some practices that help us to sustain in the hard work of keeping our hearts engaged. If you haven’t already, download the Keeping Your Heart – Self Care Challenge 2019 pdf for the month!
Below is Week #3 & the practices that we will focus on next:
|1. Text 5 individuals/friends with a precious memory of them||Relational|
|2. Try a new type of fruit or vegetable||Physical|
|3. Take a day off from all screens||Physical/Mental|
|4. Color, draw, or make patterns on paper||Mental|
|5. Bring a beverage outside, watch the sunset or sunrise, and name as many colors as you can see||Spiritual|
|6. Identify your stressors||Mental|
|7. Make fruit or oil infused water & drink 1/2 your body weight (oz = pounds)||Physical|
- Text 5 people
One of the resiliency practices that I have been encouraging people to adopt for the last few years is maintaining connections and remembering that what one is currently experiencing is not forever. What I mean by that is that we can get myopic in the face of stress and trauma; a false story begins to impart a lie on our imaginations that says that this circumstance or situation will never end, which amplifies the stress because it feels like there is no way past the pain and/or fear. So we revert to survival mode, in our lower brain, and it becomes much more difficult for us to access the memories of positive experiences and healthy relationships.For that reason, I encourage folks to work on not only staying connected/reconnecting with healthy people but to reflect on the positive memories AND bring light and encouragement to someone else. It’s another way of providing care, but in a more reciprocal way than caregiving.
So text (or call, or write) 5 people and tell them something that you remember about time with them or a quality that they posess that brings you joy. It turns out that it brings them joy, too!
- New Fruit or Vegetable
Hardly any of us are really eating as many fruits and vegetables as we should. I mean, half of your plate for each meal? As much as I would love that, I don’t have the capacity most days to get creative enough to plan ahead, so I have to really work that in during meal prep. But, personally, I love fresh fruits and vegetables more than frozen or canned, so I can’t prep those quite the same and then it gets so complicated, especially on those days when I feel like I am just trying to keep everyone alive and healthy in my home, blah, blah, blah. I know I am not alone here, because y’all tell me the same thing.How can we change this? How about trying a fruit or vegetable that you haven’t had before, or, if you have an advanced level of fruit/veg, maybe prepare one in a new way that you haven’t tried. For me, kale was a turning point with greens. I hadn’t had great experiences with kale, but then I made a watermelon kale salad with sunflower seeds and it was like the heavens opened up! I LOVE kale now and I will eat it every time I can, at least 3 times/week, because it is so good. (Yes, I know).
Head to the store/farmer’s market, pick up a piece of produce that you have been curious about, check out a new recipe for preparation if you don’t want to eat it raw and see if you can’t find something new to bring some balance to your plate and palate.
- Time off from Screens
I had to put this one in the mix, even though I don’t know how successful I am going to be at my attempt to try it out. It seems kind of impossible given the ways that we are reliant on the tiny little computers we carry around pretending they are just phones.So maybe it is just taking 1/2 a day to start out, or some other window of time. But also taking stock of how much anxiety the idea of not having a screen may be causing you; if you find that it is distressing you to even consider the possibility, maybe there is something else going on or some need you weren’t aware of that is met by having access to that tiny little screen.
There is no judgment on my end; I remember a day that I went to a spa and had to turn in my phone and how at the end of my visit, I was anxious to check my messages and that became a drive that almost overrode the relaxation and care that I just experienced. It was an important moment for me to notice that I had been placing some weight on my electronic communications that I had not realized. It helped me to look at what was so important to me about my phone and what parts of my brain were making me feel compelled to interact with it.
How much time will you spend away from a screen for your practice today?
There has been a lot of interest in “Adult Coloring” for the last few years and adults have been rediscovering the calm and peace that can be obtained when engaging in the practice of putting color in between lines on a paper. Some of it may be the nostalgia of a simpler time when the biggest tragedy of your day might be breaking your favorite color of crayon or spilling your milk at lunchtime. Or, it could be that when you don’t feel like you can find beauty in the middle of a really difficult situation you are facing, it feels really good to create it elsewhere.Whatever it ultimately is, there is plenty of evidence that coloring, drawing, or creating patterns can lower blood pressure and affect mood, so grab a piece of paper, your desired writing or coloring instruments and make a little beauty for a few minutes!
- Sunrise or Sunset
I am not a morning person. At all. So this one will be stretch for me, but I am going to try it. I enjoy sunsets – I think, in general, that a quiet late afternoon into dusk is my favorite time of day – but mornings aren’t usually my jam. It occurred to me, though, that the joy I receive when watching the sky change colors at night might be replicated in the morning, as well, so I am going to try it.What is it about the sky at the end and beginning of the day that can stop us in our tracks and make us still? I like to think that it is a reminder that there is a whole world bigger than our immediate stress and situation, and that there is a new day coming – whether at the beginning or end of the day, it is one of hundreds of thousands of cycles of days that have taken place, and a new time for life is about to come.
So, check out when sunset/sunrise is taking place (www.timeanddate.com), grab your favorite morning or evening drink, and head to a safe, peaceful place to spend a few minutes toasting the beginning or end of the day.
- Identify Your Stressors
Who really enjoys, at the root of their soul level, spending time a lot of time thinking about the things that are stressing them out? “Me!!!” says no one, ever. That’s not what we are talking about here. “Whew!!!” says everyone, always. Stress isn’t bad for you. Toxic stress can be deadly. So understanding how to adjust your life to cope more healthfully with stress can be the thing that transforms difficulty into opportunity.The practice of identifying your stressors allows you to examine if there are changes that need to be made to your approach, routine, or skill set. Perhaps the thing that is causing you to feel overwhelmed can be moved to another time of day when you have more capacity, or maybe you can engage in some mindfulness and resiliency practices to prepare your mind or body to healthfully engage. Or, maybe the thing ahead of you can feel less stressful if you have some more tools or expertise that help you to feel hopeful instead of worried.
But one cannot get there without taking stock of what is occurring that is causing the stress to begin with. How can one do this? Well, one way is to take a look at your calendar and look through each hour in the week; does a certain time or event cause your stomach to clench a little, or your heart-rate to increase? That might be a stressor. Or maybe you take a moment and write down all of the things you need to do in the next three days. Which things make you groan a little bit inside or utter, “ugh” under your breath? That might be a stressor. Or, perhaps, there is something that when you think about it, you immediately want something sweet, to play a game/get on your phone, to get up walk somewhere else, or go to sleep. That’s a cue that you have identified a stressor.
So take the time and identify which things are activating your stress response system and then see if you can adjust, prepare, or increase your skill set and make that stress work for you, instead of work you over!
- Water Up!
Yes! Another froo-froo practice! Here is the thing about water. We literally die without it, but we have a hard time drinking all of it that we should. An established rule for hydrating with water states that one’s consumption should equal an amount that 1/2 of your weight if (pounds = liquid ounces). Let me break that down a little. If you weighed 150 pounds, you would mentally convert that to 150 liquid ounces and then divide it by two (2), giving you 75 ounces as your target consumption of water daily. Make sense now?Dehydration is a little sneaky, too. Most of us are dehydrated throughout the day and don’t even realize it! By the time we are experiencing being thirsty, we are already 10% dehydrated, have lost 2% of our body mass, AND (most importantly as far as I am concerned) we have lost 10% of our cognitive function. Don’t know about you, but I’m not sure I have 10% to spare when I have so many demands on my person!
So what if you don’t like water? Yeah, those people live in my house, too. Soda, coffee, tea, wine (yeah, that makes me sad, too) and other liquids don’t really cut it. Why? Because they have other things in them that actually dehydrate a person, so any benefit you would receive from that liquid is counteracted from the dehydrating effect of that thing (i.e., caffeine, sodium, alcohol, etc.).
Things we have tried at home that work for us: (1) infusing water with fruit, or (2) adding a few drops of essential oil to water in a glass bottle. Make sure to check for drug interactions (grapefruit can getcha), but find an oil or fruit and start drinking.
As usual, I’d love to hear about your experience; 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 renaemdupuis.com using the hashtags #keepingyourheart #renaemdupuis #selfcarechallenge2019 and tagging @keepingyourheart.
DISCLAIMER. These suggestions for the Self-Care Challenge do not guarantee any specific outcome for any specific person and may or may not have the desired effect on a person’s mental, physical, spiritual, relational, or general health. Keeping Your Heart and Renae M. Dupuis are not liable for any damages or loss experienced by any entity who participates in any or all of the suggested self-care practices. All participation is voluntary.