Do you wake every morning feeling confident and ready to take on the day? During the day, do you feel well in body and spirit – calm, supported, and centered?
Or are your days a bit more chaotic, full of hasty decisions, negativity, unhealthy choices, and stress?
If your life leans more toward the second version, I’d like to suggest an approach I talk about with the women I see in my practice: Meticulous Self-Care.
Meticulous self-care is an attitude of being very deliberate with yourself and your health. It involves being conscious of your behavior, actions and attitudes on a daily basis; of paying attention to your mind and body and caring for yourself.
“Spend a few minutes preparing for your day. Think through everything you need to have a smooth, positive and productive day ahead of you.”
How to practice Meticulous Self-Care
1. Organization: Planning ahead is one of the most important aspects of self-care.
For example, how do you usually eat your meals? Do you grab something for breakfast as you walk out the door, grab a muffin and coffee on your way to your desk, have a snack from the machine when you’re hungry again in two hours, then eat a fast food lunch because it’s all you have time for?
When you practice meticulous self-care, you plan your meals the night before, when you have peace, calm, and time. You make sure to have the supplies and foods available and ready, so you’ll have what you need to make a healthy meal. You make a little extra of your dinner, so you can bring it for lunch the next day and provide your body with the phytonutrients it needs to be well.
This level of self-care may sound time consuming, but it’s really not: as you’re cleaning up from dinner, put the food you’ll need for lunch, into these glass containers. It will take no effort to bring them with you for lunch the next day; they are ready and waiting for you, no matter how busy your morning is.
2. Inner dialogue: Becoming aware of your internal self-critic is the first step in your liberation.
Women tend to have a very strong “inner critic.” This is the “masculine energy” that pushes and drives us, tells us we’re not good enough, pretty enough, or smart enough.
This is the voice that says, “You didn’t do enough today,” “You may be tired, but you still have to finish XYZ,” and “Taking care of yourself is either not important or selfish; you should be you’re taking care of everyone else.”
What’s needed is what we typically think of as the “feminine” approach (though it’s not limited to women!). This is the self-care and self-nurturing voice, the voice that tells you it is important to find the time to exercise and eat right; that how you take care of your body and mind impacts not only you but your family, too.
3. Outer Support: If you want to be healthy, hang out with people who want that, too!
Meticulous self-care involves surrounding yourself with people who support you and understand your goals. If you’re on a health journey, going out for pizza or to a hamburger joint is not in your best interest. Find friends who also believe it’s important to take care of themselves and are working to improve their health.
Going to a new yoga or Pilates class or checking out an exercise studio is a great way to meet new friends who share similar interests and beliefs.
4. Elimination: Get rid of yesterday’s toxins to have a fresh start for the new day ahead.
This applies to actual elimination – it’s necessary to move your bowels daily to get rid of what you’re done with.
But “elimination” is also a metaphor for your personal and professional life. To
practice meticulous self-care, you need to periodically rid yourself of things that are holding you back. That can be something as minor as cleaning out a crammed-full desk drawer that bugs you every time you open it, to leaving behind a relationship that’s no longer healthy.
As you move forward on your healing path, you’ll attract people who are on that path, too.
TRY THIS: Clean out your closet
Cleaning out my closet is something I do as the seasons change. By getting rid of clothes that either no longer fit, have seen better days, or are associated with a negative or stressful moment in your life, you are creating space. And space is necessary for new experiences to enter into your life.
I recently donated five boxes of used clothing to a homeless woman’s shelter. It felt wonderful to pass along those items knowing they would go to women who needed them.
5. Practice intention and attention: Focusing on what you are doing in the moment is not as easy as you think it is.
What does it mean to set your intention and attention on something?
As a noun, intention means to have a purpose, objective, or goal. Attention is about being observant. But there’s an energetic aspect of these also, and I think it’s about approaching something with a heart and mind that are fully engaged and aware and in-the-moment.
How often do you do something else while you are eating?
Try focusing only on the food you are eating, as you are eating it. That means not reading a book, watching TV, looking at your computer or talking on the phone. Instead, remind yourself to pay attention to what you are doing (eating) and what your goal is (to enjoy your food and let it nourish you).
What you will discover might amaze you. First, I think you will find that you are chewing your food more than before, and with that, there was more taste and enjoyment. Secondly, this can make it easier to be in touch with your satiation level, so you are able to stop eating when you become full. This is the beginning of losing those few pounds, with no effort other than attention and intention.
The practice of meticulous self-care is simple: prepare ahead of time; be supportive of yourself and surround yourself with others who support you; eliminate the toxic and the unnecessary; live fully in the moment. But how often do we really do these things?
So, to help you get started, I’d like to suggest an exercise: dinner. As soon as you are able, choose a night to practice true self-care with your dinner. Plan out and make a healthy, delicious meal. When you sit to enjoy it, turn off all distractions. Close your eyes for just a brief moment before you start to eat to center yourself. Concentrate on your food and anyone you’re sharing it with. Taste the flavors, smell the scents, notice the colors and textures. Imagine it moving through your body, nourishing you, energizing you.
Do you feel any different? Did you eat less or more slowly, did you enjoy your food more, did you have better conversations and feel better after the meal was over?
Meticulous self-care is really about being deliberate. Watch someone who’s really good at what they do: a chef, or a rock climber, for example. See how each move is planned, deliberate, with no stress or fuss, no wasted time or motion.
At its best, your being is in alignment with what you are doing and the action comes from your heart! The more you can be deliberate about your choices, your work, your food, the people you surround yourself with, the calmer and more purposeful your life can be, bringing more joy to your heart.