So here we are, wrapping up twelve months of Extreme Self-Care.
Hard to believe it’s been a year since we started this journey, but time does have a way of marching on.
After a year’s worth of exploration, our final month’s homework is to put together an Extreme Self-Care First-Aid Kit. While she was writing this chapter, a cancer scare sent Cheryl Richardson into a tailspin. The worst was the interminable wait for biopsy results, but she remembered to implement her Extreme Self-Care First-Aid Kit and putting her theory into practice proved its immense value.
As we know, it can be a challenge to take extremely good care of ourselves when our lives are going well. The stakes are upped considerably when an emergency strikes. The death of a loved one, a lost job, an unexpected move, or a health challenge can suddenly rip a hole in our lives and send us grasping for coping strategies–anything will do as long as it numbs the pain or silences the fear. This is a time when it is imperative that we take good care of ourselves–extremely good care of ourselves–which is why it is so important to put together our First-Aid Kit ahead of time, when we’re strong and healthy and know what works best.
To create our kit, Cheryl suggests that we ask ourselves the following questions:
1. Who can I turn to for support when I’m afraid? Who comforts me, makes me feel safe, and allows me to have my feelings?
2. Who do I need to avoid? Who adds to my anxiety level, overwhelms me with questions, or has a tough time just listening without interrupting or offering advice?
3. What does my body need to feel nurtured, strong, and healthy?
4. What responsibilities or commitments do I need to let go of to clear some space so that I’m able to feel my feelings and do what’s necessary to honor my needs?
5. What unhelpful coping strategies or activities do I need to avoid?
6. What spiritual practice restores my faith or connects me with God or a Higher Power of my own understanding?
7. What do I need to feel comforted at this time?
8. How will I best express my feelings?
9. What object can I use as a talisman that will remind me to breathe, relax my thinking mind, and return my awareness to the present moment?
10. What can I do when I need to take a break from the emotional stress? What’s my best healthy distraction?
Three people in Cheryl’s life gave her permission to publish their Extreme Self-Care First-Aid Kits. I recommend that you have a look at their kits as a jumping off point for creating your own. (Remember, if you don’t already own this book, your library is a wonderful resource for an amazing array of information and entertainment). It’s interesting to see how varied their answers to these questions were. We are all so unique, with vastly different needs when we’re weathering a life crisis.
So that’s it.
One last month to mull over your best Extreme Self-Care practices.
Write them down. Make several copies of them. Put them in strategic places. Maybe even give a copy to your favorite support person so they can hand it to you when you’ve fallen into the abyss.
And you will fall into the abyss.
Abysses are an inevitable part of life.
As are those on-top-of-the world moments.
Cheryl is so wise to suggest that we create our life raft when we’re standing tall and strong on the mountain top. I think I’ll take advantage of that second-hand wisdom now rather than going for the hard-earned variety at some point in my future when I find myself at the bottom of the abyss trying to remember what it was she had suggested in that great book I once read.