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Michelle Gottlieb Psy.D., MFT, LPCC
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Time to Nurture

February 2013

I have written before in this column about nurturing yourself. And I am going to do it again. We are often good about taking care of others, but we are also often good about neglecting ourselves. Why is it important to nurture ourselves? Put simply, if we do not, then we cannot care for anyone else. We will fall apart. We will fail in all areas of our lives. Maybe not right away, but we will eventually get sick, depressed, anxious, grumpy, irritable, etc.

So, how do you nurture yourself? There are many ways. The key is for you to find what works for you. Nurturing is a very individual thing. What works for one person definitely does not work for another. In our family, hugging a puppy is very effective. If you are allergic to dogs, that obviously is not such a good idea. I also love reading, nothing intellectual, just a vacation for my mind. Exercise is a favorite tool of mine, as well. Talking with friends. Watching something fun on TV. Cooking a good meal. Travel. Soaking in a hot tub. Getting a mani-pedi. Meditating. The list goes on and on.

There are two things that you must keep in mind. Is what you doing actually nurturing to you? And are you paying attention when you do it? Being mindful of what we do is mandatory in this area. Think about if you sit down to eat a meal, but you are not paying attention to what you are eating. You start shoveling food into your mouth without any regard as to what you are tasting. You will get no enjoyment from the food and will probably consume more calories. On the other hand, if you stop and truly taste your food, you will eat less and enjoy it more. The same rules apply while nurturing yourself. Stop, be aware of what you are doing and why. Give yourself up to the 15-30 minutes that you are focused on yourself. You will find that you truly are refreshed at the end of this practice and better able to handle your life.

I encourage you to make a list of nurturing activities. Post it on the refrigerator door and do something daily. Take care of yourself. Your ability to help others will improve. And don’t forget to enjoy the journey.

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