When I am helping someone else with their recovery process, I urge them to be gentle with themselves. We all need that reminder.
Abuse conditions us to being stressed as a chronic condition. Abusers urge us to take care of them to excess, and to discount and ignore our own needs. We are well-trained to consider any self-care as "selfish."
Nurturing ourselves is not selfish however--it is essential to healing and it is foundational to modeling a healthier way for our children (or others who may be impacted).
So how do we go about it? How do we treat ourselves with love and respect?
I am still in a state of figuring this out. Here are a few things that have worked for me thus far:
- Reminding myself that if I want my children to be healthy in their self-care, the most effective way to have a positive impact is to let them see me taking care of myself. When my child sees me resting after I acknowledge that I am tired, then my child learns that it is okay to rest when you are tired.
- Asking myself what I would want my friend to do for herself/himself in a similar situation, and then doing it for myself.
- Exercising regularly to keep my emotions more stable and positive.
- Journaling frequently to stay in touch with myself.
- Telling myself the same positive thoughts that I tell others. Reassuring myself that I am involved in a process that takes time.
- Watching for opportunities to acknowledge to myself what I am doing well.
- Praying to ask God to teach me to take better care of myself. Taking care of myself is a way to be a good steward and to increase my usefulness in service to God.
- Sitting outdoors and/or putting flowers in a vase to remind me of the beauty God has created. Remembering the beauty energizes me to care more what I do with His temple.