Self-care is the basis for our well-being. And when stress strikes, we especially need to attend to our emotional, physical and spiritual needs and practice nourishing, healthy habits.
But, for many of us, that’s exactly when our self-care dips. We neglect our needs and get trapped in a web of overwhelm.
She describes it as a “well-prepared plan of action put in place before you need to use it. It consists of things you can do on a physical, emotional and spiritual level that will give you comfort, connection and a feeling of steadiness while navigating the rough waters of a crisis.”
For instance, Richardson used her kit when a routine mammogram showed a lump in her breast. She had to wait three days for the results of the biopsy. Naturally, she was shocked, scared and overwhelmed.
“The practice of Extreme Self-Care turned out to be my lifeline, steps that not only got me through the waiting period, but also better prepared me for whatever might happen.” (Fortunately, she got “a clean bill of health.”)
When you’re facing a difficult situation or any kind of stressor, it helps to know exactly what and who will bring you the most comfort and let you express your feelings healthfully and safely.
To create your kit, Richardson suggests answering these 10 questions:
1. Who can I turn to for support and comfort?
Who helps you feel safe and lets you feel your feelings? For instance, this might be your partner, a best friend, your parent or a sibling. It’s someone you can turn to when you’re overwhelmed and afraid.
2. Who should I avoid?
These are individuals who heighten your anxiety, aren’t good listeners and overwhelm you with questions and advice. For instance, this might be your co-workers, who are less than supportive and like to gossip about everyone’s problems.
3. What does my body need to feel nourished, healthy and strong?
Maybe you need to drink water frequently, practice yoga, get more sleep and take a walk in the park a few times a week.
4. What responsibilities do I need to relinquish so I can attend to my needs and feeling my feelings?
You might need to say no to extra projects at work, hire a housekeeper for a few hours or set firm boundaries with certain friends.
5. What unhealthy or unhelpful strategies or activities do I need to avoid?
You might need to limit caffeine to minimize anxiety or stop watching TV too late, so you can get more sleep.
6. What spiritual practice connects me to God or another higher power I believe in?
This could be reading a religious text, praying, meditating or attending a 12-step program.
7. What will bring me comfort right now?
This might be anything from getting a massage to wearing comfy clothes to drinking a warm cup of tea.
8. How can I express my feelings healthfully?
This might include talking about your feelings to your support system and writing about your feelings in a journal.
9. What object can I use as a talisman to remind me to relax and be in the present moment?
For instance, this might be a pair of rosary beads or a picture of a loved one in a locket.
10. What’s a healthy distraction for me when I need to take a break?
This could be anything from watching funny films to playing with your pet to knitting to reading your favorite magazine.
Jot down your answers in a journal, and keep it somewhere visible (and handy). This way, the next time stress strikes, you don’t need to think about how you’ll support your needs and practice self-care. You’ll already have a thoughtful, effective plan all written down.