Super Self-Care Series Pt. 2

Super Self- Care Series

Take Better Care…

We’ve got to learn how to take better care of ourselves, ladies!  Because when we learn how to meet our own needs, we become much better equipped to meet the needs of our loved ones (like our precious littles).  That’s why I’ve written this important series on self-care that literally walks you through, step-by-step, how to create a plan that you can use now.  

If you missed the previous post, or want guidance on how to begin crafting your own self-care plan, be sure to check it out here!

Also, grab the Super Self-Care Guide and Printable List right here for FREE.

In this post, I’ll discuss how to:

  • Tune into your own needs
  • Cultivate a journaling habit
  • And Allow yourself to feel your emotions

Tune Into Your Needs

Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links, providing me with a commission if you purchase one of the products listed at no extra cost to you.

Book: The Extremely Busy Women's Guide to Self-Care

I’ve been reading through this great book on self-care and have found a lot of great wisdom on making self-care a daily habit in my busy life. If you’d like a more in-depth look at designing your own self-care routine, plus lots of cool journaling exercises, you should definitely check out the book.

One of my favorite pieces of advice I gained from The Extremely Busy Woman’s Guide to Self-Care is to ask myself this question throughout the day: 

“What is it that I need right now?”

I have been surprised by the answers that have bubbled up when I’ve asked this question of myself.  Some of the responses I’ve had:

  • I need water; I’m thirsty
  • I need sleep; I’m exhausted
  • I need to move around or get some exercise
  • I need to be outside for a while
  • I need to cry

You can learn a lot about yourself if you’ll commit to asking this question, and then respond to whatever it is you feel you need.  How’s that for the ultimate self-care fulfillment?

So often, we just move through our days at break-neck speed, never stopping to truly examine what it is our bodies, our minds, and our souls are craving.  Asking yourself what you need is like pressing the pause button on your busy life in order to take the pulse on the real you. 

Action Plan:

Steal away to a quiet place (yes, the bathroom counts) and begin by focusing on your breath.  Really begin to tune in to your body by thinking “inhale, exhale” as you breathe.  

After a few moments of connecting with your breath, ask yourself, “What do I really need now?”  If you can, ask the question out loud.  

Then, remain quiet and “listen” for the answer that surfaces.  Even if you’re surprised by what you think, try to act on that thought as soon as it comes to you.  

Does this process feel like woo-woo magic to you?  It did to me the first time too. But, I kept asking myself the same question and I started getting answers.  This really does work, but if it doesn’t work the first time, try, try again, my friend. 

Establish a Journal Habit

Somewhere in a closet at my parents’ house is a plastic bin filled with old journals of my childhood.  These books are priceless to me and I learn something about former, younger me each time I open them up.  

I still keep a journal to this day.  Although I don’t write in it daily, I do write several times a week.  I’m convinced that this practice of journaling has saved me thousands of $$ in therapy. 

A blank page in a notebook + a few minutes to jot down my feelings = DIY therapy and release.

Of course, I am not in any way discounting a therapist or psychiatrist or suggesting you should skip seeking help when you need it!  I’m suggesting that establishing a journaling habit can serve you well all of your life. 

Stack of journals on a desk

The beauty of a journaling practice is that you can structure it any way you want.  Here are a few ideas:

  • Keep a log of your days and how you filled them
  • Try a Gratitude Journal where you list what you’re thankful for each day
  • Keep a Dreams and Goals Journal
  • Fill a notebook with quotes that inspire you and why they are meaningful
  • Use the free-flow method: set a designated amount of time to write whatever comes to you down in a journal or notebook

The journal habit is great to get into because it a.) requires little investment other than pen and paper (or however fancy you want to get, b.) can be completely customized to your own preferences, and c.) can be practiced for any amount of time you have to devote to it.

Remember the “just give me 15” technique from this post?  Journaling is a perfect activity to complete during a 15 minute period of self-care.  

Action Plan:

If you do not currently write in a journal, why not try it out?  The key is to keep it simple and manageable so you want to keep going with it once you establish the habit.  

You probably have a blank notebook somewhere in your house you can easily use.  Start with that and figure out what kind of journal you’d like to keep (see above for ideas).  Schedule time into your calendar to journal.  

If you already have a journal or have one that you haven’t used in a long time, now is a great time to get back into the practice of using it!  Schedule some self-care journaling time and get back to the practice of writing down your thoughts and feelings.

One final word about journaling: it’s important to leave your inner critic/ editor off the page.  Determine that anything goes in your journal.  You want it to be a safe place where you can remove all filters about your life.  However, better keep it away from little people who might try to read all of your secrets! Aka, hide it!

Allow Yourself to Feel

This may be the most important tip in this entire series on self-care.  

Let’s start with a question:

How often do you allow yourself to feel your feelings?

It might seem like a silly question, but lean into this and really think about it.  When a feeling surfaces, whether positive or negative, how often do you sit with that feeling rather than stuff it down or instruct yourself to feel a different way?  

  • Do you allow yourself to feel angry when it comes?
  • Do you allow yourself to feel celebratory when you hit a milestone in your life? 
  • When a dream or plan falls apart, do you allow yourself to mourn that loss? 

I struggle with allowing myself to feel my feelings as they surface, but I didn’t realize this until the whole COVID-19 thing took over our lives and I lost the life I truly loved.  Suddenly, I struggled just to get out of bed in the morning and I couldn’t figure out why. 

Slowly and surely, I realized I needed to grieve for my old life.  So, I gave into that feeling.  I became comfortable with being uncomfortable.  

Realize that feelings are just that: feelings.  They come and they go.  Ebb and flow.  Feelings in themselves are not dangerous.  It’s when we stuff them down that we start to experience problems.  

To feel is to experience life more fully.  

Brene Brown quote about numbing emotions

Action Plan:

This one might be a tough action plan to carry out, especially if you’re used to stuffing your feelings; however, the end result will be worth the effort.  You’ll emerge from this exercise feeling more aware of your own emotions.  

Give yourself a little time and a private space away from others.  This is a great time to pull out the journal you’ve been writing in.  You’ll want it to record your thoughts.  

In your journal, write and answer these questions:

  1. Do I often stuff my feelings and emotions or allow myself to fully feel them? Why?
  2. What is the most recent negative emotion I’ve felt, and what narrative or activity is attached to it?  What is the most recent positive emotion I felt, and what narrative or activity is attached to it? 
  3. Are there any feelings beneath the surface I need to address?

Fully concentrate as you answer these questions.  Don’t attempt to filter your answers.  Anytime you find yourself struggling to feel your emotions, come back to this exercise and answer the three questions again. 

Allowing yourself to feel all of your emotions enables you to live a truly full and rich life, and that, my friend, is what self-care is all about! 

You’re Not Selfish

Let me leave you with a word of encouragement:

It’s not selfish to learn to take the very best care of yourself.

In fact, I would venture to say that as you learn to practice self-care, you become a kinder, calmer, happier person who can serve your family better because of it!  And I know that’s what you want for your life.  You’ve got this!

Ps. Did you grab your FREE Super Self-Care Guide and Printable List yet?  <—— Get it now!
Woman practicing self-care by relaxing