Making self-care a priority
By Jon Worlton, LCSW
I recently listened to a prominent religious leader use the analogy of fly fishing when teaching about Satanic efforts to “hook” and destroy human lives. Fly fishermen carefully get to know the habits and patterns of their prey. They design lures to mimic insects that fish are eating and also fish at times when fish are most active and hungry. In short, fly fisherman learn about and manipulate their prey’s needs.
Whether or not one believes in God or the Devil, it is hard to disagree with the reality of “lures” in our environment that will limit our freedom and ultimately destroy our lives. Addictions are the most common lures that hook and trap individuals. Addictions are a powerful and effective way of soothing emotional distress and satisfying unmet needs. Even though the relief is temporary, the experience the user is having feels authentic. Unfortunately, the emotionally “hungrier” one is, the more enticing the lure of the addiction. On the flip side, the more our real emotional needs have been met, the easier it becomes to discern between an artificial lure and something that will be healthy and nourishing.
The first way to begin meeting these important emotional needs is the engage in healthy self-care. Self-care is the intentional practice of meeting our needs in healthy and nourishing ways. Early in my work with the LifeStar program, I heard recovery summarized as deliberately creating healthy rituals which nourish, strengthen, and renew our individual energy. This renewal allows us to make meaningful contributions to our relationships. It is important for all of us to deliberately identify and practice self-care activities.
A blogger named Stephanie Neilson (http://nieniedialogues.blogspot.com/2010/10/3-simple-steps.html) listed the following things she does for self care:
1. Make a “Quiet Time” sign and put it on my front door when I need a nap, or down time with the boys. There is no reason why quiet signs just have to be for napping children.?I suggest you take full advantage of it too.
2. I make home a priority. Nothing ever comes before my family time. Nothing.
3. I leave at least one day a week of nothing. No house-work, yard work, errands, shopping, computer, and cooking (among other things). Life just comes as it comes.
While these are examples specific to a stay-at-home mother of small children, you can clearly see the priority she places on protecting and caring for those areas that will allow her to be more emotionally present for her loved ones.
In addition to personal self-care, relational care is also critical. Todd Olson and Dan Gray, founders of the LifeStar program, suggest the following for relationship care:
- A weekly date with your spouse that doesn’t include recovery/addiction talk.
- Weekly service (do one deliberate thing each week for your spouse)
- A monthly gift to your spouse (doesn’t have to be expensive).