Choosing Self-Care for Greater Self-EmpowermentJul 29, 2022 01:00PM ● By Susan Ahlstrom
Self-care is the jet fuel of self-empowerment. Choosing self-care as our number one priority each day is the simplest, most empowering act possible. The challenge, of course, is that there are commitments to others—our partner or spouse, children, employers, coaches, you name it.
It’s always easier to surrender our time and energy to other people and other obligations. These days, there are way too many people suffering in the world. Our friends and families are struggling to cope with endless social, political and virus-related concerns. Taking time for ourselves when others are suffering can feel way too selfish. The truth is, however, that when we are stressed and overtaxed physically, emotionally and/or mentally, our minds and bodies cannot function at their best. We lose power.
Consider your remote. The darn thing still works even when the batteries start to die, but trying to get it to move the cursor to the next letter or increase the volume when the batteries are running down is maddening. Why would you choose to keep clicking the button in frustration when you could instead take a minute to install new batteries? The effort spent trying to overcome the lack of power just isn’t worth it. The same goes for us when we are run down and trying to live life without taking care of ourselves.
At the heart of every wedding ceremony is the moment of truth when the couple declares their choice to join with another for the rest of their lives. During the exchange of rings, first the man takes the woman’s hand and speaks his vows. After making his promises, they let go of each other’s hands before the woman then takes the man’s hand in hers. This releasing and taking each other’s hands again is a profound symbol of the freedom of choice in one of life’s biggest moments of commitment.
Every moment of every day offers us a choice, either to give power to our lives by taking care of ourselves, or to disempower ourselves. Even in that most important moment in marriage, when rings and vows are exchanged, we are reminded that we have a choice. At any given moment, we can choose again.
To many people, working out at the gym, playing a video game or meeting friends for dinner is considered down time or “me time”. However, activities such as these don’t actually turn down the activity in our brains or central nervous systems. They often lead to greater fatigue or distraction and distress in the end. Likewise, getting your nails done or having a glass of wine may seem like quality time when we’re not focused on other people or other priorities, but these are not the kind of activities that actually power-up our systems.
Simple self-care and self-regulation practices such as deep breathing, meditation and EFT/Tapping provide the quickest and easiest path to calming and soothing ourselves. These activities can help us feel more empowered in any given moment. They fortify us and help with clarity and focus. For instance, taking a few minutes to stand in a “power pose” and taking some deep breaths before entering into a difficult conversation or an important meeting can completely reset or regulate our entire system, so we feel more confident and in control.
Grounding exercises can also help regain focus, like feeling your feet on the floor, rubbing the palms of the hands together briskly or imagining the body as a strong tree trunk with roots running deep into the ground.
The benefits of self-care are many. Self-soothing and calming methods such as Tapping and breathwork help to calm the nervous system down, help with emotional stability, support the immune system and improve decision-making skills.
Taking the time to empower ourselves through self-regulation is one of the greatest “devices” we have to keep ourselves strong and fortified. Most of these exercises or practices are right at hand, whenever we need them. No equipment necessary. Just a willingness to turn up the power.
Susan Ahlstrom, MS Counseling, is a Wellness Coach, Certified Accredited EFT Practitioner and Reiki Master. Connect at 203-313-4613 or LighterAndBrighterWellness.com.