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5 Key Ways to Nurture Yourself
When was the last time you did something to nurture yourself?
"I just don't care any more," the woman said. "I've done everything I can and nothing is working."
A red flag went up in my mind at that moment. I, too, had been there and had those feelings. It took weeks of training in the mental health unit for me to realize that when I didn't care, it was because I had let my own needs go far too long.
Whether we are in the middle of a crisis or simply putting ourselves last on the priority list, there is only one way to bring things back into perspective, and that is to nurture yourself by doing the following:
- Be kind to yourself
- Use positive self-talk
- Allow yourself to relax
- Seek the company of people who uplift you
- Read and listen to inspirational media
Yes, it takes time, but time spent nurturing ourselves is far less time spent in anger, frustration, and bitterness toward others. When we don't take the time to nurture ourselves, our relationships are on the rocks, and we are just plain miserable! Life is too short for that!
Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it.— Joseph Smith
Be kind to yourself
Put away the sword! Rather than cutting ourselves down with criticism and berating ourselves for all the things that we have done wrong, we look for things about ourselves that we have done right and that we like about ourselves.
Self-criticism leads to self-hatred. Self-hatred leads to self-loathing. Self-loathing leads to feelings of worthlessness. In contrast, self-like comes from looking for and finding the good. Self-like leads to self-acceptance. Self-acceptance leads to self-love. Self-love gives us the ability to love others.
Our Savior said it best when he told us in Mark 12:30-31 (KJV*), "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these."
It is interesting that Christ said that we are to first love Him, then to love our neighbor as ourselves. Our ability to love ourselves usually does not come until we realize how much He loves us. He loves us so much that He gave His life for us. What greater witness do we have that we are worth loving?
Use positive self-talk
Negative self-talk is the best way to destroy our delicate feelings of self-worth, our only defense against the "fiery darts of the adversary" (I Ne. 15:24**). The society in which we live sends us many subliminal messages. Unless we are able to recognize what is not true and refute it, we will be undermined by the intense peer pressure that is all around us.
We have a conversation going on in our heads all the time. This conversation tends to be colored by the things we were told when we were growing up. As adults, we have the power to re-program our self-talk through the use of affirmations. The more positive messages we give ourselves through the use of reading, being around positive people, and telling ourselves good things, the more easily we recognize the untruths we encounter.
Just as we would encourage another when they are having a tough time, we encourage ourselves and help ourselves through difficult moments. The greater our ability to do this, the sooner we get up after a mistake or failure, and the more resilient we become.
...David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.— I Samuel 30:6
Allow yourself to relax
The frenzied pace of the lives we lead keeps us keyed up and anxious. There are many demands on us coming from all directions, including our families, our volunteer work, and our workplace. We often feel torn trying to determine what is most important.
Allowing ourselves to relax gives our bodies a chance to unwind, rest, and recuperate. The root word of the term "recreation" is "create." Adding the prefix "re-" means that we "do it again" or "do over." To recreate means to reorganize or remake. Recreation is a diversion from our regular work activity that allows us to rejuvenate our minds and bodies with positive feelings and experiences.
Be careful, though, for recreational pursuits can easily add additional stress due to their cost and the preparation required for their execution. Simpler is better. Like a tall drink of water on a hot day, recreation that revives the spirit allows us to feel true enjoyment in life.
Seek the company of uplifting people
"Don't pick your nose, pick your friends," Ron Flick, a paraprofessional, said to the students in the Special Education classroom where I was substitute teaching. Although he meant the statement literally, I found a figurative meaning that was just as powerful for me personally.
When I "pick my nose," I pick at those things about me that are negative to the point that I get a "bloody nose." I mortally wound my own feelings of self-worth to the point that I end up feeling down in the dumps. Instead, I want to "pick my friends" by seeking the company of people who uplift and strengthen me. In order to do this, I want to go where these people are.
Uplifting people do not frequent the bars, night clubs, and fast food joints. They are found in the churches, schools, and volunteer organizations where their talents are best used. As we seek their company, we find that we are not only uplifted and strengthened, but we find opportunities to uplift and strengthen others.
Our willingness to look for the good in others will draw like-minded people to us. Our efforts to build others up will come around to us in time. We will find that, in our most difficult moments, others will do for us what we have done for them.
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.— John 15:13
Which of the five key ways to nurture yourself will you implement?
Read and listen to inspirational media
Inspirational words and music feed our souls with high quality fuel that gives us additional energy and desire to be productive. We are greatly blessed with a fountain of information, videos, and inspirational material through the use of the Internet.
Unfortunately, the Internet is also used by those who would want to hurt and destroy us. With the click of a button, we can stream all that is filthy and downgrading into our homes as well. Just like our physical health is dependent upon the quality of food that we eat, our emotional health is dependent upon what we allow ourselves to watch, read, and hear. These images and words are stored in our subconscious mind, and come back to play at the most inopportune times.
The more we fill our spiritual and emotional reservoir with that which uplifts and inspires, the better equipped we are to wash away the everyday grime and dirt that gets underneath our fingernails in the course of our work and family activities. We keep ourselves strong and safe when we fill our minds with that which brings us closer to our Savior.
Nurturing ourselves is simply doing what He would do if He were here, loving us unconditionally. The closer we grow to Him, the closer we come to being true to ourselves and fulfilling the mission for which we have come to this earth. Then, when our time comes to return to His presence, we will joyfully hear, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant... enter thou into the joy of thy lord" (Matt. 25:21).
*All scriptures from the Bible in this article are taken from the King James Version (KJV).
**The book of I Nephi is found in The Book of Mormon, published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
© 2017 Denise W Anderson