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Self-Care: Calming the Crazy-Making Brain

self-careA friend recently said to me how impressed she was by how well I practiced self-care.  It gave me a bit of a start because at the time, I was feeling especially tired and worn out…even though I was engaging in several self-care activities.

In a way, my friend was right.  Overall, I DO self-care very well.  I give myself lots of sleep.  I get monthly massages. I hike or run pretty much every day.  I schedule in lots of alone time and plenty of social time. I make sure I’m getting my fruits and veggies and water daily. I’m pretty good at saying no and keeping my boundaries. I love to have fun and practice that regularly.

And, boy, do I wish self-care was simply all about doing those kinds of things.

Because while I do self-care well, I don’t always really experience that self-care.  My body receives it – but my brain doesn’t.  And I end up still feeling exhausted and cranky and scattered.

Sometimes, way more often than I’d like, while my body is practicing self-care, my brain is busy going a bit crazy.

“Rest! You can’t rest! Look at your get-to-do list! We don’t have time for this self-care laziness!”

“A massage, really? A trip to Hot Springs? Going out to eat? Really? There are way more practical things you should be spending your money on.”

“You’re driving all the way to where to hike? We don’t have time for that!”

Practicing self-care can amp up my lovely and rather vocal inner critic – which, in left untended to her own vices, will essentially void any acts of self-care I practice.

Dammit.

My inner critic has been having herself a bit of a tizzy lately as I’ve been adding more rest and self-care into my days.  And I’ve been feeling more than a bit frustrated because I’m not feeling rested or cared for in the least.

When my friend complimented me on my self-care practices, I realized I’d forgotten one very importance piece of that self-care.  I’d forgotten to add a little love and care for my crazy making brain and inner critic.

So, step 1? Acknowledge.

“Yes, brain, I hear you. You’re afraid that if I do XYZ, then ABC will or will not happen.”

Step 2? Say thank you.

“Brain, I’m so grateful you are so concerned and aware of our commitments and goals.  Thank you for being so diligent about our meeting them.”

Step 3? Set boundaries (otherwise known as ‘parent your own brain.’)

“Brain, I love how enthused you are about our future and our success. I am too.  Right now, I’m going to do X (take a nap, read, go for a run, etc) because this helps me to be successful and to accomplish all those goals we have.  And see? I have this work related thing on the schedule right here – we’ll focus on that at that time when we’re both rested and raring to go. Until then, let’s just enjoy X, ok?”

It seems a bit cheesy, but this mental conversation really does help my fearful brain calm down and allow all of me to rest and experience self-care.

Lord knows my crazy making, overworking brain could use a bit a rest 🙂

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