A Self-Care Buffer Zone
By Michelle May, MD
Do you over-diet the way you over-eat? In other words, do you focus on eating instead of fueling your life? (yes, how'd you know?)
If you’re fixated on dieting, it’s easy to miss the most important goal: optimal health. Optimal health is not a certain dress size or even the absence of disease. It is wellness of your body, mind, heart, and spirit. Fortunately, the more you care for your whole self, the easier weight management becomes. Here are some ideas for building an effective self-care buffer zone.
- Schedule a check-up.
- Do something active to increase your flexibility, stamina, or strength.
- Take a hot bath or long shower to relax and unwind.
- Give yourself a manicure, pedicure, or facial.
- Treat yourself to a massage or a new hairstyle.
- Wear clothes that are attractive, comfortable, and fit your current size and shape.
- Clear clutter and create a pleasant space that helps you feel happy and calm.
- Plant a garden and grow fresh vegetables, herbs, or flowers.
- Spend time in nature walking, hiking, or sitting.
- Download 101 Things to Do Besides Eat
- Challenge yourself to think positively and powerfully.
- Give your brain a map to follow by setting inspiring goals.
- Learn a new skill or language.
- Do brainteasers and play challenging games.
- Be creative; experiment with art, crafts, and hobbies.
- Listen to music, sing, or play an instrument.
- Take classes online or at your local community center or college.
- Participate in stimulating discussion groups (like this one!).
- Travel—or explore areas close to home like museums.
- Accept yourself as you are right now.
- Embrace the full spectrum of emotions for the depth and richness they bring to your life.
- Spend quality time with your family and friends.
- Schedule a date night to build intimacy with your partner.
- Identify your feelings by writing in a journal or talking with a trusted friend or counselor.
- Set appropriate boundaries for healthier relationships.
- Assert yourself to let others know how you feel, what you think, and what you need. Accept that beyond that, you can’t control what other people think, feel, or do.
- While it’s not possible or even desirable to eliminate stress, learn to manage it.
- Practice forgiveness. Harboring anger and hurt is harmful and eats up precious emotional energy.
- Be vulnerable. This deepens intimacy and frees you from the need to be perfect.
- Seek coaching, counseling, or therapy if needed for emotional support and to build coping skills.
- Practice mindfulness. Be fully present in whatever you’re doing—eating, talking, working, playing—to experience pleasure and meaning.
- Renew and restore yourself through prayer and meditation.
- Schedule time for your inner work. Know yourself, your values, and your purpose.
- See your problems as opportunities for learning and growth.
- Reclaim peace and joy even as you face challenges.
- Look for the good in others; it’s there somewhere, just waiting to be nurtured.
- Volunteer and give back to your community by helping others.
- Write down all you are grateful for.
- Practice kindness without any expectation of receiving something in return.