As many regular OMHG readers know, this past year has been a difficult one for me. While I’m fortunate to have amazing friends and family to lean on for support (including the amazing OMHG community!), sometimes you need more. In coping with the death of my father and the loss of my brother, I realized I needed some tools to help me deal more effectively with everything. Simply talking wasn’t enough; sometimes you gotta call in reinforcements. Like a therapist. Someone trained to help you actually handle all that baggage and those feelings of grief, anger, sadness, and other fun stuff that comes bubbling to the surface. Plus, when you’re paying someone, you feel a lot less guilty or worry about burdening her with your troubles.
Recently, as homework, the therapist gave me an exercise in self care called SPICES. Turns out it’s a useful exercise that most of us can benefit from. Whether you’re floundering in grief or juggling work/home/kids/relationships/daily life (who isn’t?!), taking care of ourselves on a consistent basis helps us to better handle whatever surprises life delivers. SPICES is a well-rounded list you create of how you take care of you. Keeping your list easily visible is not only a great reminder to take care of yourself, but a reminder of the big and little ways you can.
SPICES stands for:
- S is for SOCIAL– Are you regularly socializing with others? Online? In person? Over the phone? It’s easy to go into hermit mode, whether from grief or from a never ending To Do list, especially us work at home folks who are already conveniently holed up. I find, however, days that I visit with friends, talk to family on the phone,or hop online for Thursday afternoon OMHG chats, help refresh, reconnect, and recharge me.
- P is for PHYSICAL– Exercise, yoga, healthy eating, mani/pedis…taking care of your physical body, inside and out, is important. What good things do you do (or could start doing) for your body? My list includes dance parties in my studio with my kiddo, making time for yoga, getting good sleep, eating my five servings of fruits and veggies, and making regular hair appointments to cover my gray!
- I is for INTELLECTUAL– Work that brain. When was the last time you read a book (for grownups!), watched a documentary, did a puzzle, had a in-depth discussion not related to your child’s toilet habits? It’s easy to get wrapped up in the mundane and immediate details of daily life, but that brain muscle of yours need stretched. For me, I keep a fun book in my car to read during pickup line at school, maintain a steady stream of business-related books to keep my brain percolating and plotting, attend a book club (who says you have to have read the book?! It’s grownups talking about grownup stuff, usually with wine!), watch TED talks, play Word With Friends, etc.
- C is for CREATIVITY– I loved that this was included. For many of us, creativity ranks up there with sleeping and eating in regards to self care, but are you making enough time for it? Five and ten minute increments to doodle, jot ideas or brainstorm can do wonders for me. And remember, creativity isn’t just being artsy crafty- what about problem solving? Trying new things? Taking a different approach? That outside of the box, “How else can I do this?” type thinking is good for you on so many levels.
- E is for EMOTIONAL– Touchy feely doesn’t come easily to me, but motherhood and coping with the loss of my brother and father seem to be softening me. Going to therapy, talking with friends and family, letting myself have a good cry all have a cathartic effect for me. In the past, during a particularly stressful time at work, I also found meditation helped, specifically the book, 8 Minute Meditation. It’s awesome for the “I don’t have time” or “I don’t do hippy dippy, New Age-y” naysayers, and I’ve pulled the book back out to start implementing it into my days again.
- S is for SPIRITUALITY– This may or may not apply/appeal to you. For me, when life goes sideways, reading Pema Chodron’s When Things Fall Apart helps give me some perspective and reminds me how to be gentle with myself and others. I reread it last summer after my brother’s death and am rereading it again to help with my father’s death. If prayer or meditation aren’t your thing, what about a little communing with nature by talking a walk in the fresh air and sunshine? To me, the key to this SPICES component is seeing how we connect to something bigger than ourselves, and the sense of wonder and comfort that it can provide.
Additionally, when I was consulting the Google machine for more info about this SPICES exercise, I saw variations on the letters: C can be CAREER, CARING FOR SELF; S can be SURROUNDINGS (another important part of my peace of mind and caring for myself.)
So give it a try. Make a list of all the ways you SPICE up your life, or how you could start doing so. I made a printable for you to print (click on image above), fill out with your choice of SPICES and post as a remember that taking care of YOU let’s you be your best YOU!
Also, if you feel like sharing your SPICES, I’d love to read them in the comments in the below…might help those of us who are severely out of practice when it comes to self care!
Editor’s Note: Come join us tomorrow from 1-2EST for an #OMHG chat on how we take care of ourselves based on Nicole’s awesome post. Spiciness guaranteed!