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Unfortunately, 6 in 10 adults live with at least one chronic condition reports the CDC. As a very busy woman, you risk joining the 60% of adults who have chronic health issues because you put your needs last. That’s what happened to me.
I’m already part of the club and you may be too. Either way, you’re concerned about the impact of your day-to-day pace on your mind, body, and spirit. You know it’s not sustainable. Your inner wisdom tells you to take better care of yourself. While you think “100%,” how and when can you fit it in?
Anytime, anywhere you can ask yourself a super simple question that will immediately focus on your needs. As you ask yourself the question, you increase your self-awareness of what you need in the moment and start training your brain to automatically ask the question.
3 Super-Simple Questions
Which questions will help you immediately focus on your needs anytime, anywhere? Try the following to see which one connects with you the best. Or, adapt one to speak a stronger message.
What do I need right now?
How are we doing?
What feels likelove?
I emphasized the words that speak to me. “Need right now” pinpoints this very moment, not five minutes from now. In this very moment with everything going on around me, what do I need (regardless of anyone else’s needs)?
In the second question, I like the collective “we,” because I imagine it references my mind, body, and spirit + the universe. It feels like additional power to help take better care of myself.
Lots of positive thoughts come to mind when imagining “feels like love.” While it may feel like a stretch sometimes, it’s a worthy target. Any choices made as a result of this question will be good decisions, right? Yes.
After reading the questions, what stands out for you? What do the words make you think of and feel?
The Stories We Tell
To ask one of these questions, you need to pause and shift your focus from other people, places, or things to yourself.
I sense some resistance. Are you telling yourself a version of the following stories?
I’m fine. I must take care of 1, 001 responsibilities. If there’s time afterward, I’ll treat myself.
So-in-so needs me. I’m the best person to help. It makes me happy to take care of others.
I don’t have the energy to take care of myself after I’ve taken care of everyone else.
Once the kids are older, the work project is completed, my partner provides more help, etc., I’ll have the time and energy to take better care of myself.
In and of themselves, the stories aren’t bad or wrong. I’ve certainly told them to myself.
The problem comes when you tell yourself the stories Every. Damn. Day. Then, there’s no space to take care of your needs. The unrelenting stress and overwhelm takes a toll on your mind, body, and spirit. And, the likelihood of developing chronic health issues increases.
How to Ask the Question
It’s your decision on how to ask yourself one of the questions. For example, you can:
Have a silent conversation with yourself.
Let a trusted person know you’re trying to take better care of yourself by asking one of these questions and would like them to help provide some accountability.
Set a minimum number of times to ask the question each day and track your progress.
Use the questions as teachable moments for others such as your kids, coworkers, and friends. It’s powerful and gratifying to help others take care of themselves
When to Ask the Question
You spend less than a second asking yourself the question. To start, it will take a few more seconds for your inner wisdom to answer. Possible answers will take longer to implement—minutes instead of seconds.
You may have to ask the question again if the answer is not reasonable within your current circumstances. That’s ok. Keep asking.
For example, let’s say the kids are running around crazy, making a million requests and you feel a headache starting. You ask yourself, “what do I need right now?” You need some peace and quiet. Gather everyone for a drink of water (yourself included because some headaches are caused by dehydration) and play a game to see who can be quiet the longest. Or, have storytime. Or, if the kids are more independent let them know you’re off duty for 10-15 minutes for quiet time and to save their requests until the time has passed.
Or, let’s say you’re attending a stressful meeting at work where your already stretched-too-thin team receives more work with a tight deadline. Feelings of anger or resentment towards leadership run rampant in your mind. Can’t they see how hard everyone is working and that no room exists for more additions to their plates? You ask yourself, “what feels like love?” Love feels like taking a walk outside by yourself once the meeting ends. Walking will release endorphins which reduce some of the negative feelings. Your brain might even provide some solutions for getting the extra work done because the increased blood flow from exercise provides more energy and oxygen which makes your brain perform better.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Take charge of your choices by asking these super-simple questions to boost your self-care.
At first, this will likely feel uncomfortable. Do it anyway. The discomfort means you’re at a growth edge (a place for personal development). Practice and the results of increased self-care will reduce the discomfort.
Practice will train your brain to automatically ask the question, so you no longer have to think about asking it. You can just focus on the answer and taking care of yourself right now. Practice also strengthens your mind-body connection which is vital to rebalancing wellbeing.
Wrapping It Up
Often self-care seems indulgent and a time suck. It doesn’t have to be either. There are plenty of ways to take better care of yourself that don’t equal a day at the spa.
The bottom line: asking yourself one of the questions above takes no time and implementing the answer can fit in the time you have available. No matter what, you have at least the time needed to take 5 deep breaths.
I’m Karen Clark Salinas, and it’s my mission to help women live their full purpose (work + family) without sacrificing wellbeing. I want to be the coach I wish I’d had when I was a working mom. Someone to help me get unstuck and live my life more intentionally. Marriage, motherhood, chronic illness, divorce, remarriage, and caring for aging loved ones contribute significantly to my story. I know for sure that, with my support, you can pursue your professional dreams while raising a happy and healthy family.