caring for our families, caring for ourselves
Talk to yourself as you would someone you love. — Brené Brown
Do you remember being in school on Valentine’s Day? The tiny cards being passed around with shy glances… Perhaps finding an anonymous declaration of love in your pile via sweetheart candy: “Be Mine.” “Secret Admirer.” “Super Star.” The day was both exciting and completely awkward.
The origins of Valentine’s Day are somewhat murky–there were at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus which may have played a part, as well as the ancient Roman fertility festival called Lupercalia which took place in mid February. In modern times, the holiday is celebrated by offering kindness and small gifts to those we love.
Perhaps we enjoy a special dinner out with a partner. Or we send frosted treats into our child’s classroom. Or we cuddle up to watch a gloriously cheesy Hallmark movie. If we find ourselves at a loss for ideas, retailers are happy to tell us how we could best express our feelings. (I mean, the KAY Jewelers commercials alone…)
The people in our lives appreciate knowing how much we love them. There is no downside to spreading good vibes! But culturally, we don’t tend to give that same attention to caring for ourselves. We take in many subtle and not so subtle messages about how to be a “good” (i.e. selfless) parent and/or spouse. But the reality is, if we never refill our own tanks, we won’t have the reserves to care for our loved ones.
Too often, we get to the end of the day and realize that we are burnt out. We have cared for our children or aging family members, met the demands of work–both inside and outside of the home, and ran all of the errands. We may or may not have taken a moment to check in with ourselves. How are we feeling? What might WE need today?
An important first step in self care is cultivating mindfulness as we go about our day. To keep in touch with our feelings so that we don’t end up losing ourselves as we try to keep up with our responsibilities. To be just as compassionate towards ourselves as we are with our loved ones. Or, as Brené Brown says, “Talk to yourself as you would someone you love.”
Does our inner voice sound like someone we would befriend in the outside world, or would we never in a million years choose to hang out with them? Spending time with a judgemental person is terribly draining–and we are with ourselves 24/7! When we observe how we speak to ourselves, we can make adjustments as needed. For many of us, using positive self-talk can take a bit of practice, especially if we received negative messages growing up. But our gentleness will promote healing from the inside out. So, how do we improve our inner dialogue?
Dr. Kristin Neff has some thoughts. She is a leading research psychologist in self compassion–a pioneer in her field with over twenty years experience. Dr. Neff’s website (Self-compassion.org) offers tips, as well as guided meditations to help begin the practice of self compassion. The guided meditations start at five minutes long–completely doable even on a busy day!
“Research indicates that self-compassion is one of the most powerful sources of coping and resilience we have available to us, radically improving our mental and physical wellbeing.” — Dr. Kristin Neff
Another way we can take care of ourselves throughout the day is to capitalize on small moments while we go about our other tasks. Playing music that makes us happy while paying the bills (which definitely does NOT make us happy). Taking five minutes to stretch before we start the morning. Running a warm bath before bed to let our muscles soak, mixing in a couple drops of our favorite essential oil. Lighting a naturally scented candle.
Making time for ourselves takes a little creativity, but we benefit from the cumulative effect. Here are some quick respite ideas from the QFH staff:
MAKING THE MOST OF (A FEW) MINUTES
Rachel loves listening to ocean sounds on Spotify. Practicing slow, deliberate breaths at the same time is even more calming.
Dr. Quinn likes meditating using the Square Breathing Technique while she’s waiting for her kids to get ready. https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/box-breathing
She also likes to sneak in exercise by doing wall/counter push-ups, squats. Air boxing and playing with dogs can be fun too!
Dr. Alyssa is a nature enthusiast. Even when the weather is less than ideal, she will get outside to reset and breathe fresh air. Five minutes still counts!
Kathryn also loves nature bathing. When she has a few moments in between errands, she likes to find a scenic spot to pull over and enjoy the view with some hot tea. Kathryn also believes in the joy of dark chocolate.
Jackie begins her mornings by getting up early. She makes herself a cup of tea, lights a few naturally scented candles, and meditates. This calm, soothing start helps to set the trajectory of her day.
Let’s say we’ve succeeded in using a few moments to recharge throughout our day. We then face our ultimate trial-by-fire: dinnertime. How do we maintain our Zen when one of the little people in our families inevitably begins a full blown hunger melt down? (Full disclosure: In my family, that person is usually me.) Besides ordering take out–which is a sanity saver in a pinch–we can practice self care by keeping meal prep simple.
Here are some of our staff go-to’s for easy and nourishing meals on the fly:
QFH STAFF QUICK DINNER TIPS
Dr. Marley’s Beefed Up Pasta:
Brown ground beef in a skillet, then drain. Add beef to a good quality jarred pasta sauce and let it simmer for 20-30 minutes with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over your favorite GF pasta.
Kathryn’s Veggie Pasta:
Saute chopped broccoli for 4-5 minutes in a cast iron skillet w/ olive oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper. Toss over GF pasta. Sprinkle with pine nuts or sliced almonds, nutritional yeast, and another drizzle of olive oil.
Dr. Quinn’s Pizza Rounds:
Choose your favorite GF english muffins or GF bread for the crust. Top with a quality jarred sauce, pre-cooked chicken, veggies (pre-chopped from the market is easiest), and cheese of choice. Add a dash of Italian seasoning blend and/or garlic powder and toast until the cheese is melted.
Rachel’s Breakfast Is Best:
Top your favorite cereal with milk and sliced fruit. Or whisk up a quick omelet using pre-sliced veggies like mushrooms and/or baby spinach.
Nancy’s Prime Planning:
On a day when more time is available, pre-form burger patties and freeze them individually for future use. Change up seasonings for interest. On a busy day, the patties can be thawed in a short time, then cooked to preference. Serve on a GF bun with a side salad.
Another plan ahead tip: when time allows, double the quantity of a meal you are already making so there will be enough for a second dinner that week.
Do you have your own meditative moments or quick dinner ideas that you’d like to share? Please let us know!
On this Valentine’s Day and always, may we remember to offer ourselves the same care we give to our loved ones. By practicing gentle self-talk, claiming restorative moments, and keeping meals manageable, we give ourselves the daily grounding we need to show up for others, and we restore our own health as well.
QFH Front Desk Staff