You may have heard the term Self Care bandied about when people get their nails done or go golfing with friends, but in psychology we mean something with more breadth than a spa day.
What we mean is understanding all the ways you have to spend energy each day just to stay alive, and what it feels like to run out of said energy: exausted, despairing, discouraged, drained, over it, and OVERWHELMED that we have do it all again tomorrow.
That's often because your autonomic nervous system (ANS) is out of whack. This system includes a A) sympathetic part (SNS) activated by stress, effort, and exercise, and B) a parasympathetic part (PNS) activated by relaxation, rest, and digestion. We need to balance this activation to feel well (optimal arousal window), and when we are experiencing too little or too much stress/rest chronically, we disfunction in a variety of ways.
You might have noticed how all this works when after a hard day's work you simply need a good night's rest, and then you feel restored and ready for action. That makes sense of course, you were tired so sleeping did the trick. But what if you wake up and still feel that way? Have you been working too much for awhile? Has your sleep not been good for awhile? What is throwing the ANS out of whack?
You may simply be in a rut and want to try some other kind of self care to get more PNS activation going. Good news! There are lots of ways to take care of the self, in fact, according to one view point, we have 8 domains (Satir, 1989) of self that we can tap into.
Imagine yourself as a car that needs fuel to run, and you are running out of fuel! But, you are a special kind of car with 8 different tanks to fill. Which kind of fuel are you low on, where is that gas station for you? Use the tool below to help you figure this out.
- Which tank is lowest? Why?
- Do I park at a favorite gas station and ignore my other tanks? If so, which one and why?
- What interferes most with my self care? Why?
- What free and easy thing can I do in less than 5 minutes to boost my lowest domain?
Consider prioritizing a domain that has less than half a tank, think of some activities you might do that are accessible to you, and I encourage you to THINK SMALL here.
Instead of a trip to the beach (takes to long and I am tired!) how about listening to ocean sounds on your phone and thinking about happy times at the beach? Feel better?
Now imagine all your domains are getting some kind of care each week... how do you think that might impact your life?
I lovingly take care of myself so that I am full of energy for all the things in my life.