Self Care Solitaire blog featuring self care suggestions, clinical examples, product recommendations and playlists to help readers identify healthy routines and habits they can incorporate into their own lives
It's December already! As the end of the year approaches, some of us may be contemplating resolutions; evaluating the goals we had for ourselves this past year, coming up with new goals for the year ahead. As we think about our New Year's resolutions, I want us to remind ourselves of the definition of "resolute," the root of resolution, which is, "to be admirably purposeful, determined, and unwavering."
These are strong words! If we are going to pay "purposeful, determined, and unwavering" attention to something, it seems to me that the thing we are striving for should be incredibly meaningful.
Recently, many of my clients have been bringing up the topic of guilt in sessions. Occasionally, the feelings of guilt they describe are appropriate; when we have done something to hurt ourselves or someone else, it is normal and healthy to feel guilt or regret. This guilt is what keeps us from repeating the same harmful behavior. However, most of the time I notice that the feelings of guilt my clients' experience are related to things beyond their control. For example, many of my clients feel guilty about their various experiences of privilege. When we feel guilty about something that we cannot control, we tend to get stuck.
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, this week seemed like a good time to discuss methods to help increase feelings of thankfulness. In my last blog post, I talked about the personal benefits of gratitude, but how exactly can we choose to feel thankful? Especially when recent events make it difficult to see the positive, how can we foster an attitude of gratitude? The answer is intention.
I wrote last week that when we are going through difficult times, it is especially "important to recognize that we can choose to experience gratitude for even the tiniest of moments," I didn't know just how difficult the week would be, and just how much myself and others would be relying on small opportunities for thankfulness to make it through.
This month's theme is gratitude, and I have to say that I feel very thankful for the things that I have learned while researching this topic. I feel grateful for the ability to feel grateful, knowing what an impact being intentional about this can have on a person's life. Not only does practicing gratitude benefit the people around us (who doesn't enjoy hearing a heartfelt "thank you"?), but it is hugely influential to our own happiness as well; gratitude functions like a natural anti depressant.
Happy Halloween! Because the 5th Monday of this month falls on a holiday that celebrates identity exploration, I thought it would be interesting to do an interview centered around this theme. My wonderful sister, Claire, was brave enough to do a sort of self care challenge that required her to take on the identities of others to explore different ways of caring for herself. I asked her to choose 3 characters who have styles, attitudes, or self care routines that are very different from her own. Check out her incredibly honest and thoughtful interview below.
This month's playlist is my attempt to capture the essence of Halloween. For me, this time of year is multifaceted: it's about fear and monsters, but it's also about acknowledging and accepting our shadows, exploring and integrating aspects from other identities. It's about embracing ourselves as magical beings, which we are - down to our stardust skeletons. Give these songs a listen and let me know what you think in the comments. Any other suggestions for Halloween related tunes?
When I think of my childhood, I think of magic. I have always been fascinated with the idea that people can be powerful, that human beings can develop abilities that allow them to do the impossible. When I was a kid, this meant I devoured Harry Potter, played with glittery wands, and adored Halloween. As an adult, I think this same interest in human power and transformation is what led me to a career in therapy, and a specialization in self care.
Knowing who we are is so important to self care. How can we take care of ourselves if we don’t know what energizes us, what calms us, what excites us? But sometimes it’s hard to know who we are if “who we are” is in a state of flux. We are always changing. And maybe giving ourselves this permission to change, to experiment with our identities, can be self care in and of itself
In one of my favorite Joni Mitchell songs, she purrs, “we are stardust, we are golden.” The beauty of this line has always made me smile, even before I learned that she was being literal. We are actually stardust. The elements that make up our world, and our bodies, were forged in the heart of a giant supernova 14 billion years ago. We are as ancient as the universe itself! If you don’t believe me, check out this National Geographic interview with Astrophysicist Karel Schrijver.