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 Self-Care: Ten Guidelines for Developing a Personal Self-Care Plan  
 

It may be easier to change your environment than to change your behavior. The easiest way to control your choice of foods is at the place you buy your food. If you have high-calorie, low-nutrition foods around, they'll probably end up being eaten. What goes into your shopping cart goes into your family's bodies. If you're trying to cut down on caffeine, try mixing your present brand of coffee half-and-half with decaffeinated coffee. Trouble overeating? Put your scale next to your refrigerator. And if your new, smaller portions look too tiny, buy smaller plates. If you're exploring yoga, massage, or meditation, try putting aside a special part of the house--or a special room--for these practices. Does soaking in hot water help you relax? Consider putting in a bigger bathtub. Having trouble finding a good place to run? Join other runners in a campaign for a community running path

Guideline Nine: Be Aware of Feedback and Be Open to Modifying Your Goal

How does your new practice make your body feel? How does your awareness change? If you have a cold and are reading about the physiology of colds and taking vitamin C, how does that feel, compared to the way you used to cope with colds? How does making certain changes in your diet affect the way you feel about mealtime? At what times of day do you find yourself using your new relaxation skills?

Be aware of negative feedback, too. If you've given a chosen practice a good try and it's just not working, give yourself a vacation and re-evaluate. Are you trying for too much too fast? Go back to the paying attention and brainstorming stage. You haven't failed; you've gained some useful information. Go back through the goal-setting exercise. Or, if it seems right, give yourself a vacation from goal-setting for a while.

Guideline Ten: Remember That Your Ultimate Goal Is to Discover Practices That Allow You to Experience and Develop Your Own Uniqueness

There are two approaches to developing a self-care plan. Method number one is to imagine the ideal way you think you should be or would like to be. You then focus your attention on all the ways you fail to live up to that ideal. Method number one is a very effective way of making yourself miserable.

Method number two is to begin by just tasting your own being, becoming aware of your own body without comparing it to anything or anyone. When you taste a good wine, if you are comparing it to another wine or to how an ideal wine would taste, you will not be able to fully taste the wine you are drinking. If you are reading a book or watching a movie and are too involved in criticizing the plot or analyzing the style, chances are you won't be able to enjoy the story.

It may be that the most important part of developing a self-care plan is not the things you start doing, but the things you stop doing, a sort of psychological housecleaning, getting rid of some things you don't need any more.

So--the best of luck in working toward your own tailor-made self-care plan. And remember that it is you who must be the tailor.

Worksheet for Developing a Personal Self-Care Plan

  • My main area of interest (eating, exercise, learning to deal with common illness problems, etc.)

  • My main personal strengths and resources in this area

  • The best resources for me in this area (people, groups, classes, books, etc.)

  • Some activities and goals I might choose to help me explore this area (Brainstorm!)
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 About The Author
Tom Ferguson MDTom Ferguson, M.D. (1943-2006), was a pioneering physician, author, and researcher who virtually led the movement to advocate informed self-care as the starting point for good health. Dr. Ferguson studied and wrote......more
 
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