I was driving down the highway this week when I noticed that my gas gauge was getting low. It was nearly on empty. I learned the hard way in my youth that this means the car will stop and won’t go any further.
While this didn’t happen this time it made me reflect on the fact that, just like a car, our bodies can’t run on empty either
It is so easy to just keep going and not stop to fill up, isn’t it? We tell ourselves all kinds of excuses to keep from focusing on us, and when we need to be recharged to be our best selves.
How to Fill Up Your Tank
One way to “fill-up” is to create a daily self-care ritual. This doesn’t need to be extravagant, but it does need to focus on you.
A ritual is defined as “a sequence of activities involving gestures, words, and objects, performed in a sequestered place, and performed according to set sequence.”
Rituals work because our body and mind recognizes them as familiar and know what to do. A self-care ritual, unlike say, brushing your teeth or drinking morning coffee, would be a message to our mind and body to relax
An example of a morning self-care ritual would be to spend 15 minutes in meditation listening to or developing your own Mantra. (A mantra is a sound or phrase that is repeated over and over and thus can free the mind by focusing concentration.)
Here are a few examples of self-created Mantras:
I will create a positive influence in my life today
I am creating the destiny I choose everyday
I will radiate love and caring in the world today
I will care for myself and nurture myself today
You can take this one step further if you like and focus on a special issue for yourself:
I will not say negative words today about myself
I will be patient all day with everyone I speak to
I will give only positive reinforcement to my team
An example of an evening self-care ritual might be running a tub with warm water and filling the tub with oils or bath salts designed for relaxation. Putting on a candle, and listening to calming music can be added, too.
Afterwards, getting into your PJ’s and bringing the day to a close by spending a few moments reflecting on the positive elements of the day. (Ok – so that takes longer than 15 minutes, but you get the idea.)
Why We Need Self-Care
The importance of having self-care rituals is that our body, mind and spirit come to recognize them, and count on them in order to re-balance.
Let me offer you a second metaphor. If anyone has taken a flight they have heard the flight attendant describe the emergency procedures about the oxygen mask. They end by saying that if you are traveling with someone else you need to secure your own mask before assisting others.
The point being that if you don’t have the oxygen to sustain yourself you will not be able to help anyone else. This is an important life lesson. If we don’t have enough oxygen for ourselves then we aren’t able to assist our fellow life travelers, are we?
Self-care is critical if we want to help others – regardless of what we do for a living. Women will often self-sacrifice for the welfare of others.
However if their “gas tank” is emptied by neglecting their own needs, or they don’t have the oxygen to sustain their own life, then they aren’t able to help anyone else in their lives. So, self care is not being selfish, but rather it is the first step in being able to help the other people in our lives.
How do you make sure your gas tank stays full?