Early autumn has arrived. The crown leaves of the maple trees outside my window are turning a gorgeous marigold, while the rest of the leaves remain dark green. In seasons past, I might have commented on their beauty, yet seldom did I pause to fully appreciate this sight. This autumn I am taking my time to notice. These months of politics and relentless noise have taught me the value of self-care. Many issues require my attention. My most powerful response is how I choose to live.
Learning self-care was not on my list of resolutions. This concept has never been part of my vocabulary until recently. Sitting peacefully by my window to enjoy the sight of marigold leaves is kind of a big deal. My lessons on self-care came the hard way. Plus, guys generally don’t talk about this, so I am already out there.
Aside from a study of Stoicism (which I highly recommend), I have incorporated a self-care diagnostic check into my daily routine. When I feel an imbalance, this simple spot check helps me to get grounded. It is very pragmatic and goes like this:
H – Hungry: Am I hungry?
(I like to eat, so my answer is usually yes.)
It is not abnormal for men to sacrifice a basic need like food in exchange for extra miles. When I forget to feed the machine, it gives me feedback that something is not working. When ignoring this feedback, I suffer.
Not to mention, the word ‘hangry’ should truly be defined in the dictionary. That struggle is real. This leads us to…
A – Angry: Am I angry?
I wish my desire to be rid of anger had more noble aspirations. The fact is this: anger hampers effectiveness.
It is a fascinating emotion that can create or destroy almost anything. Yet from an economical standpoint, anger has a very high cost. It demands much from one’s physical, mental, and emotional resources. In short, anger is expensive.
In terms of self-care, anger resolution has numerous benefits. If the cause is minor, a simple acknowledgment can lead to a quick solution. If the cause is major, the help of counselors and wise friends can lighten the load. Less time in anger can mean more time invested in things that make you happy. This is always winning.
L – Lonely: Am I lonely?
I am a person who loves solitude. Loneliness can be a bit tricky.
I grew up outside New York City, yet I lived in the desert and overseas. I can carry solitude in the busyness of Time Square and this ability keeps me centered. I also know what its like to feel alone while surrounded by many people. How can I tell the difference between solitude and loneliness?
When I talk myself out of spending time with people for no good reason, this is my signal that I am feeling lonely. Most times, I need to reach out without weighing the pros and cons. Other times, I just need to make plans to meet or accept an invitation before making the excuse.
Reaching out is a small gesture that breaks the stalemate. It takes a few moments. It isn’t very hard.
T – Tired: Am I tired?
The importance of rest should be self-explanatory. Yet, here we are.
Often I am already working hard. I think pushing harder will make me more effective. In truth, I am already doing too much and just need to rest.
The world will not go to pieces because I take a break. Even better, the brain can do amazing things following a good night of sleep. Science supports this, too.
And that’s it. H.A.L.T. A simple diagnostic check for self-care.
A few days ago, I was taking in another beautiful autumn view. I wondered when was the last season I slowed down this much to observe the fall colors.
It occurred to me. The recognition of beauty, health, and wealth makes a person happy and rich. Not the possession of them.
On this note, I will keep you informed on the progress of these marigold leaves outside my window. I do not want to miss a single change.
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