Life with The Eden Al­ter­na­tive:

Car­ing for Our­selves Heals Oth­ers

American Senior - - NEWS - by LAURA BECK

Self- care is more than just med­i­cal ap­point­ments or pedi­cures. It is as much about feel­ing self- ex­pressed as it is about feel­ing good. When you think about it, self- care can be a win­dow to one’s soul. Ask some­one what they like to do for them­selves—that’s just for them—and you’ll learn a lot about who that per­son re­ally is. Take me, for ex­am­ple. When I’m wear­ing my pro­fes­sional hat, I wield my writ­ing, project man­age­ment, and in­struc­tional de­sign skills, but when I need to un­wind and get in touch with me again, I dance like no­body’s watch­ing (and some­times, like a lot of peo­ple are watch­ing, hon­estly). When I’m danc­ing, I feel most fully my­self… most whole, most au­then­tic. Self- care in­deed.

Iden­tity and Mean­ing are listed among the seven Eden Al­ter­na­tive Do­mains of Well-Be­ing ™ . When our true selves are ac­knowl­edged, we feel seen. Our place in the world is af­firmed. We count. Self- care, then, is how we give our­selves a nod and say, “I see you. You mat­ter.” Typ­i­cally, this sense of our­selves is fur­ther de­fined by those things we find mean­ing­ful.

Try this: Make a list of your top ten sim­ple plea­sures. These are those things that just make your day, the lit­tle rit­u­als that re­new, re­fresh, and in­spire you. Draw­ing a blank? Well, then it’s time to re­sus­ci­tate your self- care mojo. Start small with 1 or 2 ideas and then make a com­mit­ment to weave them into your week. Share them with some­one who will lov­ingly hold you ac­count­able for mak­ing them a part of daily life. Of­fer to do the same for them in re­turn.

When we teach oth­ers about the power of care part­ner­ship at The Eden Al­ter­na­tive ® , we share that gen­uine care is not pos­si­ble with­out first know­ing some­one deeply… what do they love, who have they been, who are they now, what do they need? While we may be­come adept at ask­ing such ques­tions about an­other, how are we at seek­ing to un­der­stand the same about our­selves? Life moves at a quick clip. Busy lives can leave us feel­ing out of touch with who we are and what our souls are truly crav­ing. En­ter self- care, which of­fers us the op­por­tu­nity to come home to our­selves again.

Our job, then, is to be stel­lar care part­ners to our­selves first and fore­most. Only then can we be com­pletely present for an­other hu­man be­ing. Re­call the re­quest of the flight at­ten­dant be­fore take- off: first, place the oxy­gen mask on your­self, and then of­fer it to an­other. By con­nect­ing with the self, breath­ing life into our own be­ing first, we are bet­ter pre­pared to make a dif­fer­ence in the lives of oth­ers. The qual­ity of the re­la­tion­ships we build with other peo­ple be­comes stronger, health­ier, and more at­tuned. Con­nect­ed­ness, like Iden­tity and Mean­ing, is con­sid­ered an­other vi­tal as­pect of well-be­ing. Add Se­cu­rity, Au­ton­omy, Growth, and Joy and you have all seven Do­mains of Well-Be­ing, all of which are vi­tal prod­ucts of self-care. Nur­tur­ing our­selves teaches us how to ask oth­ers for what we need with con­fi­dence and courage. And as we grow and change, so, too, do the things that feed and soothe us. By rec­og­niz­ing the ebb and flow of our own in­ter­ests and needs, we are also poised to re­spond more freely to the same in oth­ers.

A self- car­ing world is a world wired for heal­ing… like turn­ing rip­ples into waves. Imag­ine the pos­si­bil­i­ties. ■

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