Hearing about the “Whole 30 Diet,” the latest health craze which consists of a 30 day adherence to a strict diet whose followers claim is life-changing, got me thinking, “What about a 30-day Self-Care Plan?”
If you’re like me you tend to think of self-care when the chips are down. That’s when you schedule a massage or take a bubble bath. I’m guilty of the saying, “We teach what we need to learn.” I need a regular self-care plan as much as anyone, which is why I created this 30-day plan. (I will be following the WOW plan myself and offering updates on my Friday blog, “Short Takes.”)
I’m operating under the assumption if a woman incorporates self-care into her daily life, she will experience less stress, her self-esteem will increase and she will be more content.
The writer Anne Lamott conceives of self-care as a radical act, based on evoking our inner Good Mother, who loves us non-judgmentally.
I’ve incorporated this concept into the WOW 30-Day Self-Care Plan making mothering ourselves central. The plan consists of two short daily meditations, journaling, smiling, mindful observation, gratitude practices, and movement, along with whatever inspires you.
To begin: start your day with a brief 15-minute meditation where you sit in a quiet place and concentrate on your breathing. If you’re unfamiliar with meditation, there are a zillion meditation apps you can download. Or, consult Jon Kabat-Zinn’s classic book on meditation, Wherever You Go, There You Are. Ideally you meditate before coffee and jumping into your day, but after breakfast counts too.
Each day honor your body by moving for 30 minutes: walk, stretch in the form of yoga or Pilates, take the stairs multiple times, or dance in your kitchen–whatever works for you. If you can manage just 15 minutes of mindful moving that’s fine.
As you go through your day try to smile more and greet at least one stranger with a “Good Morning” or “Good Afternoon.” The simple act of smiling has been proven to release endorphins.
Whenever your critical voice surfaces engage in positive self-talk. This is akin to your inner Good Mother taking charge. She doesn’t want to hear you criticize your body or your hair. She loves you–puffy tummy, arthritic hands, unruly hair—and all.
Do special things just for you. Try to prepare one meal a day that is appealing and fit for a queen. Stop eating your breakfast yogurt out of the container and scoop it into a pretty bowl. If you live alone, take time with your evening meal and make your dinner plate attractive. Buy a single rose for your desk.
Slow down and look for the beauty around you. Put away your phone when standing in line, or waiting for a friend. Perhaps you’ll notice an amusing exchange, an eccentric dresser, or a waitress with kind eyes. Observe without passing judgment.
In the evening relax with a cup of tea or a glass of wine and write a few paragraphs in your journal that affirm the positive connections in your day. Nothing is too small. If you stopped to talk to your mailperson, that’s worthy of an entry.
Your second meditation of the day should be 15 minutes before bed to enhance your sleep. End your meditation by noting what you are grateful for in the day that is ending.
The WOW 30 Day Self-Care Plan is not meant to be burdensome. Do as much as you can. If you only commit to a few of these suggestions every day but stick to the plan for a month, you should emerge with greater self-acceptance. If there are days when you can’t manage a single item on the list, try to get back to it the next day.
Solicit a friend to join you so you can cheer one another on and compare notes. Be creative. Feel free to modify this plan by adding acts that are meaningful for your life.
Let your Good Mother shine through. She’s been waiting in the wings for a long time to take a leading role in your life! Welcome her with open arms!
I invite followers of this plan to post updates on the WOW Facebook page, or add comments here.