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Syndicated Columns

Take some time, look around, then look inside of yourself

Posted April 22 2006

Q. What is "self-care"? -- B.D., Boca Raton

A. Leo Tolstoy said, "In the name of God, stop a moment, close your work and look around you." This is true self-care, a practice for reducing stress and enriching our health and wellbeing.

The following 10 steps for self-care have been adapted from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute.

Learn to relax. Throughout the day, take "mini-breaks."

Practice acceptance. Some things, such as someone else's feelings or beliefs, you cannot change.

Talk rationally to yourself. Rather than condemn yourself with hindsight thinking like "I should have ... ", think about what you can learn from errors in judgment.

Get organized. Develop a realistic schedule of daily activities, including time for work, sleep, relationships and recreation. Improve your physical surroundings. Clean your home and office.

Exercise. Physical activity provides relief from stress.

Reduce time urgency. Take things a bit slower. Allow time to get things done.

Disarm yourself. Not every situation does require you to be competitive. Leave behind your "weapons" of shouting, having the last word, blaming and putting someone else down.

Take some quiet time. Balance your family, social and work demands with private time. Unwind by taking a stroll along the beach, soaking in a hot bath, watching a sunset or listening to calming music.

Watch your habits. Eat sensibly.

Cultivate friendships. Friends are good medicine. Daily doses of conversation, regular social engagements and occasional sharing of deep feelings and thoughts can provide you with an overall feeling of well being. 13:16). And, I may add, helpful to humanity.

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