Running on Empty | The Necessity of Self Care Rituals
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?
What a nice reminder to always bring some peace into your day and every day! It’s so easy to forget to be kind to yourself at times.
This is a great reminder, and I love the idea of filling our own gas tanks. I agree that, as women, we spend so much time taking care of others, we often forget to take care of ourselves. I think I’ll book a massage now!
Great and timely piece, Ines. I am terrible at routine self-care. My pattern is to rev my engine til the tank is empty, than search in panic for a gas station to refuel. I need to employ your methods for better maintenance, and stop this cycle!
I have my rituals too. I need daily exercise — and I haven’t been taking that time lately. This is a good reminder that it’s one of those things that recharges my battery and fills my tank. Thanks.
It’s the best thing we can do for ourselves and this is a wonderful reminder. I hope we all remember it!
You had me at “put on your pajamas.” Agreed, that self care is something we need to pay attention to. I know that exercise is a key piece of that, and somehow I always let other stuff get in the way.
I love your morning mantras. We need to not only fill our physical, emotional, and cognitive tanks, we also need to make sure we have a bit of reserve available for when stuff happens! Thanks for the much needed reminder!
I so needed to read this today. And I love how you compare the gas gauge to our own needs.
Walking at the end of the day is the best way for me to refuel.
I agree it’s so important for us to take care of ourselves. I find that “girls’ night out” is my way of self-care.
Great reminder! one of my favorite ways to recharge in the evening or even when I am putting on my makeup in the morning is to listen to the sounds of the ocean and just melt into 2 minutes of peace – http://www.donothingfor2minutes.com/
Sometimes that is all it takes and sometimes that is all I have, but it makes all the difference. XO
Self-care is so important. Like you mentioned, how can we expect to help others if we are not taking care of one’s self? Spending time with one’s self in prayer, Bible study, planning and reflecting are crucial. I also apply this to nutrition. We cannot expect to run our body on empty… it must have adequate nutrients in order to perform well for us each day. Rest is also a self-care item many people try to cut short.
This is a great way to start the morning!! I understand the value of self-care (I call it talking nicely to myself) and I know the feeling when I don’t do this. Although I don’t meditate, I do pray. In that manner I’m not telling myself what a great day I’m going to have, but instead I’m asking G-d to help me have a great day and to also help those I love who are struggling.
I agree. We need self care in our lives daily. We get so caught up on every thing and every one we need to take care of that we neglect ourselves until we are exhausted and feeling like we have nothing left to give. Nurturing ourselves brings us peace and allows us to give so much more with a grateful heart.
Yes, we all need self- care and can find different ways to do that. Mine is at end of the day when I relax with a book or a favorite tv show. Don’t go near the computer.
I often forget to take care of myself. Life is going so fast. Thanks for sharing this, I will try to take time for me some minutes every day.
Thanks,Ines,for sharing this reminder. It is very informative.
So very true Ines…and I realized that the self-care thing was so very alien to me that I couldn’t even figure out what to do…what the heck, eh?
And, much to my chagrin, I found myself where my mom was in her 40s…knowing what everyone else wanted to eat, do, go…and she couldn’t say what she wanted. At 18 I thought was ridiculous…at 50+ I realized what happened. And at 55+ I’m getting back to finding what I want!
This is a great reminder!! I love the graphic as well! I agree, we all need self care. I call it “me time” and even though I don’t do that every day, I am taking time out more often than before. We need to refuel! Beautiful post! Thanks.
Self care is definitely very very important. Sometimes people ignore all the signals their body is giving them to slow down until its too late. I did that over 20 years ago. Literally hit the wall because of stress. Luckily, that moment allowed me to learn all about self care. I’ve now been getting up early, meditating, and doing yoga for over 20 years. What amazing difference it has made in my life. Great post.
This is something I need to get better at. I do take time to myself but I’m good at self care at the moment. Thanks for the reminder.
Great tips, good to know!
Yes, we do need to focus on this, sometimes!
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