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Practicing Radical Self Care

by Rev. Dr. Michele Whittington

Practicing self care – radical self care! – is the path of exceptional leadership.  Why?  Because as you, a leader, practice self care – radical self care! – you build a solid internal reserve from which to draw.

With this reserve:

  • You make decision with greater clarity,
  • Your relationships are smoother as you come from a more centered and anchored space,
  • You are stronger physically, emotionally and mentally,
  • You  serve and support others and lead from a place of overflow
  • You become irresistibly attractive to your good, and
  • You build a spirit of no-strings-attached generosity  . . .

. . . just to name a few!  While you might understand these benefits intellectually, and may even be nodding your head in agreement with the above list and adding other benefits to it in your mind, actually engaging in self care – radical self care! – is another story for many of us.

What follows is a “laundry list” of ways you can care for yourself.  Why not start a practice today by choosing one item on the list and then actually implementing it? 

The Enlightened “No” – Know what you want and say “no” to the rest.  People will actually appreciate that level of authenticity and honesty.  Well, ok, not everyone will appreciate it, but just love those who don’t and let them be.  Saying “no” clears the field for your true “yes,” and if, down the road, you should change your mind, it is far, far easier to turn a “no” into a “yes” than it is to turn a “yes” into a “no.”

Know What Gives You Energy and What Doesn’t – Not sure how to do this?  Here’s a way

  1. Make a list of 25 activities you generally engage in (for work, personal, family, etc.).
  1. Next to each item, put an up arrow indicating it gives you energy; a sideways arrow, meaning your energy is flat around it; or a down arrow, meaning the activity drains you of energy.
  1. Then record what percentage of time you spend in each of the categories.
  1. Ask yourself if you are willing to spend more time in the activities that give you energy. Start by minimizing the activities that deplete you of energy either by dropping them altogether, by delegating them to someone who would love to do them or by doing them differently (which may turn a draining activity into a flat one – which will, at least, stop the energy leak!).

Take What You Need – When you treat yourself to whatever you would want to give the person you love the most, others in your life will adapt, and even be glad.  Win/win solutions will start popping up everywhere when everyone is definitely and totally clear about what they want.

Create a Nurturing Home Environment – Is your home well organized and nurturing?  If not, devote some time to organizing and cleaning and then add an element or two that will cause you to feel really good about it.

Take a Power Nap – A power nap is a free gift you can give yourself to stop and recharge.

Read Just for Fun! – We, as spiritual people, are always reading the latest book about enlightenment, forgiveness, creating the life of our dreams, or . . . . you fill in the blank.  What about taking some time just to read for the pleasure of reading?  Download a juicy novel to your Kindle or check out a book from the library, and enjoy the escape!

Get Moving – Physical activity is a great way to take care of yourself.  Whether that means going to the gym for Pilates, visiting the yoga studio, running on your treadmill at home (will you have to dust it off?) or taking a walk in nature, get your body moving.  You’ll be glad you did.

Unplug and Enjoy – Take time off to simply unplug and have fun for an hour, a week or a month – whatever you can do!  Do it with dear friends, your beloved or by yourself.

Treat Yourself – What would be a treat for you?  An iced mocha caramel frappuccino from your favorite coffeehouse, a pedicure, a 90-minute massage with hot stone, a Hot Himalayan Pink Salt bath with essential oils, a cranial sacral massage, cooking a nice meal for yourself and someone who’s company you enjoy, a movie in the afternoon?  Once a month, why don’t you treat yourself?  If you just thought to yourself, “I would love to do some of those things, but I don’t have the money,” now is time for an attitude adjustment!  You do have the money; you are just choosing to spend it in other places.  With that mindset, why not create a “treat myself” kitty and put your spare change in it or better yet (because it will build faster), every time you get a $5 as change, put it in the kitty.  Before you know it, you can easily afford the hot stone massage at your favorite spa!

Create an In-Home Spa Experience  Once a week for 20 minutes, sit in a hot bath that contains a handful of Epsom or sea salts, 10 drops of lavender essential oil and a half cup of baking soda.  This combo draws out toxins, lowers stress-related hormones and balances your pH levels.  And for an extra boost, put your earbuds in and listen to the waves of the ocean or to whatever music is soothing to your heart.

Engage in Deep Communion with Another – There is nothing more nurturing than being in the presence of someone who remembers who you are, even when you forget.  Make sure you have people in your life who can do this for you and for whom you can do the same.  If you don’t, get busy cultivating those kinds of relationships.

Meditation and Prayer – Specified times of silence (perhaps sitting in a chair, perhaps walking the dog) and prayer are like balm to the soul.  But, does this really need to be on the list?!

Do What You Really Love – What are you passionate about?  What do you do that when you do it, you lose track of time?  Make sure you work that into your weekly schedule of “to do’s”.

How To Know You Are Making Progress

  • You are able to put yourself first more often.
  • You may find that you need less from others.
  • You attract others who already know how to gift themselves with radical self care.
  • You get a lot more of what you want, more often.
  • You truly embrace the notion that there is no private good so if it’s good for you, it is good for others as well.
  • You feel more independent, less “pulled” by your roles.
  • You find yourself being more generous, because you can afford to be (it’s that reserve thing!)


Rev. Dr. Michele Whittington is the Senior Minister of Creative Living Fellowship, a Religious Science church in Phoenix, Arizona and the founder of New Thought Seed Thoughts, a support service to ministers and those in leadership. 

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