Thursday, June 17, 2010

Self Care Primer: Emotional Self Care

“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.” ~Dale Carnegie

Did you know that every thought a woman has goes through the emotional part of her brain? It’s true! Men do not possess this same wiring.

This is not to say that women cannot be logical and concrete at times and it does not mean that men are always unemotional, it is simply evidence that our ways of thinking are different and do stem from a physiological basis. Also, one is not better than the other. There are times when an objective decision is needed and times when we should definitely be guided by our feelings.

Women’s biology makes us excellent caretakers and community builders. We are blessed with compassion and a strong sense for making connections and building relationships with others.

So, what is emotional self care?

Emotional self care is about feelings. It includes listening to your feelings, asking for what you need, and allowing yourself to express your thoughts in ways that are healthy and beneficial. It also includes receiving validation from others and being able to self-validate. Part of emotional self care is acceptance of your gifts; your uniqueness and individuality. All this sounds very simple, but it really is not always easy for most of us.

One of the challenges that we face as women is that sometimes we experience several feelings at once and it is difficult to discern exactly what we feel. We also may not know exactly what we need at a given moment. Emotional self care tools – like writing and walking and talking it out with a girlfriend can be very helpful.

There are other times where we know what we feel and need, but choose to not communicate these things. We have many reasons for doing this, we may be concerned about someone else’s feelings, we may be afraid of making someone angry- or getting angry ourselves. We may not want to be a burden on others, or we may think that someone cannot help. Emotional self care is about communicating. Stuffed feelings cause illness, and even though you think you are superwoman, you simply cannot do everything.

It is also true; sometimes our feelings are triggered by hormones. One day – or one week- out of every month, everything seems intensified and we just don’t deal well with other human beings. I personally experience one day a month where Mr. Self Care – poor guy- needs to stand clear or risk becoming the target of my mood swings. I cannot help it. Good emotional self care is about accepting that and communicating what you need: “It is not you…it’s me…I need some space today.”

Some great emotional self care tools:

• Chick Flicks! I think this is because these movies are validating, emotional and many times fantastical…watching is just good emotional exercise.

• Communication skills. For many of us this takes training and practice. Standing up for yourself and speaking your mind when it is called for is important to keeping negative stress out of your life.

• Girlfriends. Being able to talk things out and have your feelings, ideas and person validated is so important.

• Bubble baths, meditation and walking – calming activities that help you tune out and think are great for getting your head together.

• Writing. Getting thoughts down on paper and out of your head is a great way to sort them out.

• Exercise, Sleep and eating right. Physical self care. Exercise causes your body to release endorphins which create a positive mood. Eating healthy and getting lots of sleep keep you healthy and hormonally balanced.

Assignment: Think about emotional self care. Are there ways that you can incorporate or improve upon your current practices?

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