Ways to do better self-care

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Compassion

Compassion.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Ever thought you need to take better care of yourself?

Let’s people say they need to do better self-care, but often the things they do in the name of self-care make the situation worse. Indulging yourself in harmful things shouldn’t be a part of your self-care. A late-night out with friends or having an alcoholic drink may feel good in the short run but that lack of sleep and the damage alcohol can cause to your mood will leave you in worse shape than when you began.

Self-care shouldn’t be allowing yourself to indulge in negative habits. Of course, your routine should include some pleasure in life. But beware of doing harmful things in the name of self-care. The best way to improve your self-care is to build some positive aspects into your life which you want to do repeatedly. Self-care should be something you do every day not something you do as a binge when life overwhelms you. Here are a few of the things you should include in your life to improve your self-care.

Self-care includes practicing self-compassion.

Be kind and gentle to yourself. Treat yourself at least as well as you would treat a child or a pet. Don’t belittle yourself, call yourself names, or tell yourself you’re no good. Learn to accept yourself as you are. Self-compassion includes forgiving your mistakes.

Take care of yourself by becoming a happiness expert.

It’s easy to move through life, seeing the negative and experiencing self-induced suffering. Look for the happy moments in life. Happiness doesn’t come from another shot of adrenaline. An occasional ride on the roller coaster may be enjoyable but don’t be misled into thinking that happiness consists only of those peak excitement experiences. Contentment and solitude are also parts of happiness.

Self-care includes getting plenty of sleep.

Don’t fall into the trap of believing that sleep is a waste of time. Cumulatively a lack of sleep will affect your thinking and your physical health. Self-care includes building into your daily routine plenty of sleep.

Engaging in a spiritual practice is part of self-care.

Whatever your spiritual or religious beliefs, make sure that you practice them. Say your prayers. Do your meditation. Allow some time for quiet contemplation. Building some form of spiritual practice in your life will help carry you through the rough times in life. People who have religious beliefs but failed to practice them develop cognitive dissonance which makes their life far more stressful.

Embrace stress.

Excessive stress can be harmful. Far more important than the absolute level of stress in your life is your stress mindset. People who see stress as always harmful and something that shouldn’t happen to them are easily overwhelmed. Look at the challenges in your life as opportunities for growth and accomplishment. People who view new challenges as exciting are far less likely to experience stress is harmful.

Self-care includes adding healthy foods to your diet.

Many people approach their diet as a form of punishment. Trying to eliminate things from your diet and deprive yourself makes life unpleasant. Those kinds of diets are easily given up. Instead of approaching your diet as what you should give up, try adding more healthy foods. Look for healthy choices that you enjoy eating and gradually displaced those unhealthy food items you’ve been eating with healthy ones you will enjoy eating.

Cut things out of your schedule.

In this modern life full of electronic instruments and constant activity, it’s easy to have schedules that start before you wake up in and after you’re already in bed. Don’t overwhelm yourself. One of the keys to productivity is figuring out what things to cut out of your schedule so that you have time for those things that are important. You need to be a top priority on your schedule. Improve your self-care by cutting tasks out of your schedule and leaving more time for the things that matter.

Buy things you will enjoy using.

Doing some “retail therapy” may feel like self-care at the moment, but when the credit card bills come due or your money spent before the month is over your effort at self-care has backfired. Trying to get pleasure out of buying something is doing it backward. The purchase may provide a small temporary positive experience but that fades very quickly especially if you have to continue to make payments on that purchase.

The thing that will bring you the most pleasure, in the long run, is having something you will use regularly. Spend your money on experiences rather than things. The latest fashion quickly goes out of style. There will be a new model electronic device sometimes even before you get the one you bought out of the package.

The trip of a lifetime adds to your happiness and is an excellent form of self-care. Don’t focus on spending time making more money to buy yourself and your family things. Include in your budget some time spent doing something with those that are close to you.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Six David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Some family secrets can be deadly.

What if your family secrets put you in danger?

Letters from the Dead The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead?

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Sasquatch. Wandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive?

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon.

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Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking, and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders, see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter.

Is this the year you will change?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Changing your life

Time for a life change?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Will anything change for you this year?

Look at that! New Year’s come and gone. Some resolutions have already been abandon. Change is hard, staying the same is easier. Have you ever thought that someday you will make some changes, but time continues on and nothing much changes? You may even have told yourself that you are too old to change, yet all around you others are making changes, small ones, major ones. Some of those people are older than you. Some have illnesses and challenges. And yet they change. Have you asked yourself when will you finally make those changes?

You may see from the blog title, counselorssoapbox Counseling, Therapy, Recovery, and a Happy Life, that I believe in people having a happy life. I believe in wellness and recovery. You can too. Improving your life does not need to be done all at once in huge seismic shifts. That old snowball effect, small changes mounting up, is at work here. Let’s start walking through the process of making life improvements and see where it takes us.

Self-improvement begins with finding out where you are.

Anyone can benefit from a conscious effort to make their life better. You start by looking at where you are and then you decide where you want to go. Don’t get sidetracked into how awful your current life is. View any problems you have as opportunities for improvement.

Some people call this process taking a life inventory. It is important to add to your inventory, not just the marked down and worthless items, but those skills and talents that may take you where you need to go. Make a concerted effort to look for undeveloped talents, those things you said you would do someday that you have not yet tried. One of those yet to be tried activities may be just the thing that has been missing from your life.

Do not rush the inventory process. If you sketch out a house on the back of a napkin you could rush out, buy materials, and start building. It is better to have a good blueprint. This keeps you from having to tear down your house because you forgot the foundation or a way to install electrical and plumbing.

Put your life improvement plan down in writing.

Some time back, a few decades ago, I started working on a written Happy Emotional Life Plan (H.E.L.P.) I carry this around in a loose leaf binder. This plan is one section in the binder that includes sections for the classes I teach and my other important life activities. I look at this plan periodically, about one per week. It reminds me where I have been and where I am going. It is surprising many years, when I get to the end of the year, how far I have come.

Along the way, I discovered that a WRAP plan (Wellness and Recovery Action Plan) was a part of the things I needed to work on. Staying emotionally healthy is a prerequisite for me if I want to reach my goals. But my H.E.L.P. plan includes a bunch of other things also.

You do not need to be lost to check a road map.

Having a Happy Emotional Life Plan does not require you to believe there is something wrong with you. Take a look at the post “Why do successful people have coaches” for more on the way in which anyone can use some help in reaching their life goals.

No matter how difficult or awful the place you are in you can still benefit from doing some things to make your life a better place.

It is not just where you are going but how you wish to travel that matters.

Part of creating a life change plan, one that will make your life what you want it to be, is getting clear on your values. Values clarification should always come before setting goals. If a goal for you is having more money, why do you want that and what are you willing to do or not do to get there.

Don’t try to visit all the countries in Europe in one week.

A common error in trying to improve your life is to try to tackle too many goals at once. People in early recovery from mental illness, substance use, disintegrating relationships and so on often make the mistake of trying to fix all their problems the first week.

You may decide you would like a more abundant life so you take a job working forty plus hours a week. Then you see the need for more education so you enroll in school as a full-time student. Some love in your life would make things better so you begin dating and start a new relationship. All that gets done in the first week of the year. What will you do for the second week?

Trying to make too many changes at once reduces the chances of success. Start by making a few small changes and practice them over and over until those new habits become automatic.

Start any self-improvement plan with a few selected goals and as you make progress towards those goals you can add more to the list.

Plans for self-improvement are life maps for a journey.

It is easier to say you want to be healthy. Taking action on that goal is more difficult. Break those goals you have set up into small steps. Take one step at a time and see how far you can travel. Include periodic reviews for your goals and progress as part of a life plan review.

Sometimes it helps to consult a travel adviser or guide.

If your life plan includes some serious renovations consider getting some professional help. A career counselor can help you look for the new job you want. If you have emotional or relationship issues you need to work on, then a counselor or therapist can help.

Throughout this year we will revisit this theme of transforming your life into the one you would like to have and how you can navigate this process of change.

How are you wanting to change yourself and the life you live?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.