Denise Evans, Clinical Counsellor

Be Kind to Yourself, Change Your LIfe

Posted by Administrator on May 12 2010

So, how are you doing with your resolutions? This is a question that we are all getting frequently at this time of year. Most of us talk about working to lose weight or exercise more. Some people are training for the Triathlon or the Test, but many of us are already struggling with staying on track.

What if  instead of focusing upon bettering ourselves, we decided to focus on bringing more joy into our lives by being kinder to ourselves and just taking better care? As a psychotherapist I frequently see people who are good at taking care of others, but who need help in learning to take care of themselves.

I often show a model of self care to people called “The Four Rooms”. In order to do it, draw a circle on a blank piece of paper and then divide the circle into 4 equal sections. Each section represents one aspect of the self: the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Write down one of the 4 aspects in each section of the circle and then list all of the things that you already enjoy doing that would be under that heading. In the physical category, you might write down what you do for exercising (walking the dog, running, etc.), eating nutritious food, or sleeping enough. However, this can also include anything from showering daily to regular dental appointments. The mental category could include learning a new skill and practising it, like playing the piano, or horseback riding. It could also include studying, reading or working on puzzles. Mental self care is anything that keeps your mind agile and the neural network growing and sparking. Emotional self care could include filling out a gratitude journal, paying attention to your feelings and using your awareness of them to learn about yourself. Examples of spiritual self care are those things that make you feel more connected and more joyful. This could include prayer and meditation, but might also be sitting at the river and enjoying the eagles, or gazing at your sleeping child and feeling the gratitude and tenderness that moment brings.

Everyone’s list is very personal and everyone’s list is different. Once you have listed things you are already doing in the 4 categories, expand to things that you might like to try and add those to the list. Then add a fifth category outside of the circle and write the word “social” on the page. As humans, we need connection with each other to truly be well, so write what you do to maintain contact with others in your life, and when you’ve done that brainstorm ideas for things that you might like to do.

When you have finished, stick your paper up where you will see it and check that you have done something for yourself in each of the categories daily. Then pay attention to how being kinder to yourself can change your life. 

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Last changed: May 12 2010 at 9:03 PM

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