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Make this the year for extreme self-care

Coach and behavioural change professional Ann James, explains what extreme self-care really means

by Psychologies

Is your self-care bordering on the extreme? I do hope so. In fact, I would love to hear you say that it’s beyond the border and on its way to being gloriously extreme!

But I'm sure that’s not what you were expecting to hear. More likely, when you read my opening question, perhaps you thought you might be in for scolding for paying just a bit too much attention to yourself; perhaps even a bit worried that I might be about to suggest this would somehow be inexcusable or even unhealthy. But no…

When it comes to taking care of your own needs, ‘extreme’ is where I’m urging you to head. Extreme self-care is, in fact an ART, to be nurtured and relished.

On my desk right in front of me as I write is a precious little box holding a pack of 52 Self-Care Cards created by author, Cheryl Richardson, along with my copy of her book The Art of Extreme Self-Care (Hay House, £9.99). The cards are beautifully illustrated, each offering a word and reflection that connect me to an act of self-nurturing, daily.

First thing every morning, often still a little bleary-eyed, I pick a card. It’s a ritual that’s as dependable as the sunrise. As I write, it’s 6.11am and yesterday’s card is there, top of the pile. I’m saving today’s for a few paragraphs later, then I’ll share it with you.

Yesterday’s word, for me, was ‘CHOICE’, inviting me to ‘Reconsider a commitment: you have a right to change your mind’.

Imagine going through your day with that as your guide. What might you choose differently? What commitments, obligations, habits and expectations would you review? And I wonder what could get in the way of your freedom to choose? It doesn’t even have to be about the big things: major decisions and choices in life often come waving a flag – they let us know they are there, calling out for our attention even when we might wish otherwise.

It’s those darned little ones that can slowly, nibble by nibble, devour our capacity to make choices about where our day goes and how our energy is used up while we have apparently not even noticed it happening. Before we know it, our precious day has been defined for us, not by us.

So, yesterday, I decided to pay attention and to accept the challenge: I cancelled a meeting that really wasn’t necessary; chose to take my lunch out of the kitchen and into the crisp, frosty outdoors; accepted a challenge at work that my ‘habit voice’ was about to decline; deleted a bundle of emails that I really didn’t need to answer; turned left instead of right and took a different route to my destination.

On that last one, I can tell you, there’s something deeply self-caring about the surprises that present themselves in a little detour. Mine was a moment of awe at an expanse of snowdrops in a field I would usually bypass. And all for the price of five extra minutes on my journey. I’d have spent far more than that on those deleted emails.

At the end of the day, I hadn’t changed anything particularly big – but simply knowing that I was embracing the possibility of choice and change through my day gave me a real boost – rather like having a secret helper that only I knew was there.

So, can you just stay put for a moment while I pick today’s card? I promise you, I really am doing this now, and I have no idea what it will be. Ah, that’s made me smile:

'Have FAITH: faith grows when you act without knowing the end result.'

Shall we both keep that one in mind today? Go on, be extreme!

Fancy a bit of extreme self-care by the sea? Read more about Sea Change events in 2017; www.sea-change.me

Picture: iStock

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