By Gwenn Voelckers
This morning, as I do every morning, I got up early, made a cup of tea and spent some important “me time” in mindful meditation. This daily routine helps clear my mind and launch my day with a more generous heart.
Meditation is one of many ways I take care of myself. But that hasn’t always been the case.
After my divorce, I adopted a “What’s the point?” approach to caring for myself and my home: What was the point of getting up early, meditating, exercising, eating healthy meals or putting on lipstick when no one was watching? Who cared whether I made my bed or combed my hair?
It’s not uncommon for people who live alone to fall into a “What’s the point?” frame of mind. Leaving the dirty dishes in the sink or wearing your pajamas all day may seem harmless, until you consider the impact these acts of indifference can have on your self-confidence and sense of self-worth.
Taking good care — very good care — of yourself is about the value of you. It’s about your intrinsic value to yourself, to your family, and to those you encounter throughout your day. It’s an essential part of feeling good and living alone with success.
Here are some of the benefits:
It builds self-esteem:
When you take good care of yourself you send an important message to yourself that you are worth treating well, cleaning up after, fussing over and protecting.
When I come home after a busy day and walk through my front door, I am reinforced when my house is tidy and the kitchen sink is empty. It means I care enough about myself to maintain an inviting home, even if it’s just for me.
The appearance of my home is a visible, tangible barometer of how I value myself — and, this is just one of many examples. My self-esteem gets a boost whenever I exercise discipline and do the things I know will deliver positive and self-affirming results.
It looks good on you:
When you treat yourself with love and respect, it shows and people notice. It opens up your world. During my “What’s the point?” period — my blue period — I would leave the house without paying much attention to my appearance. My sorry, baggy attire was only made sorrier by the dour expression on my face.
Needless to say, I didn’t turn many heads nor invite connection with others. But, those were the old days. Today, I take more care.
When you care about yourself inside and out, you radiate vitality. It’s intriguing. And it may draw people, compliments and unexpected connections and opportunities your way. Life can be richer.
It enables you to better care for others:
When your own needs are met and you feel happy with yourself, you are better able to respond to the needs of others. I like the familiar “airline” example: When traveling by plane, we are all given instructions on how to use an oxygen mask in an emergency. We are cautioned to put ours on first if we’re traveling with a child or dependent person.
The reason is obvious: if we don’t put our mask on first, we risk passing out and putting both lives in jeopardy.
One of the best things you can do for others is to take care of yourself. That way, you’ll be better able — both physically and emotionally — to help your friends and family when they need you.
It is essential to your health:
Eating healthy, enjoying a good night’s sleep, getting regular health check-ups, and exercising can all contribute to feeling good and alive.
But living a healthy lifestyle can be a challenge for those who live alone. Without a partner to coax or inspire you, it’s easy to become complacent.
I was having an awful time sticking to my exercise routine, so I decided to become a group exercise instructor. I knew I needed the “obligation” of leading a class to force myself to show up.
Believe me, I wouldn’t be going to the YMCA as often had I not become an instructor. It was one way of taking better care of my physical health and it worked!
What might work for you?
It is rewarding:
Self-care can lead to self-discovery. Like anything else, learning how to care for yourself can reveal opportunities for personal growth and fulfillment. It can be fun and it can take you places far and wide.
Again, another personal example: I’ve discovered after years of living alone that just like meditation and exercise, travel is an essential part of my self-care routine.
Even in retirement, I can go into overdrive and become overwhelmed with life’s demands. Solo travel gives me time to relax, think and re-balance my priorities. Whether it’s a weekend getaway or long vacation, I return rejuvenated and ready to take on what’s next.
However you practice self-care, do so with steadfast resolve.
As long as you put yourself first and focus on your overall well-being, you’ll enjoy the blissful benefits. Taking good care of yourself can help you acquire the personal strength, resilience, and energy you need to create or re-invent a life that you truly love and live with gusto.
Gwenn Voelckers is the founder and facilitator of “Alone & Content” empowerment boot camps for women held throughout the year in Mendon. She is the author of “Alone and Content: Inspiring, empowering essays to help divorced and widowed women feel whole and complete on their own.” For information about her boot camp, to purchase her book, or invite her to speak call 585-624-7887, email firstname.lastname@example.org