This past week I gave up coffee for 7 days. Now mind you, I have no religious, ethical, moral or other objections to coffee. I have enjoyed drinking coffee since my 20s. I have fond memories of my father dunking toast into his coffee at the family breakfast table. I relish the advice of my grandfather who told me that drinking my coffee black at job interviews would make me look unfussy and straightforward. And St. George, Utah has a nice variety of local coffee hubs with amazing staff. But recently I realized I needed to refocus because…. Coffee was killing my self care.
Okay, that’s a little dramatic. Coffee doesn’t have magic super powers (or does it?). I am responsible for my own self care just as is everyone else. But I had begun to use this resource to take the place of meeting other basic needs. First of all, I had a bad habit of sipping a mug all day until 1 PM completely forgoing water or any other means of hydration. When I was feeling ‘down’ a trip to the coffee shop served as a special treat. When I was stressed with work a sweet latte provided distraction. When I was tired that espresso-fueled delight provided a much needed pick me up.
I should have been sleeping… but instead I was sipping.
Can you start to see a problem here? Let me make it a little more clear. Instead of being mindful of my basic needs for nutrition and hydration I was lazily and mindlessly sipping away. Instead of meeting my needs for affirmation and ‘being seen’ I was sidestepping with indulgences. Rather than feeling my stress and either resolving the source or managing my own level of intensity I chose to look the other way (and into the bottom of another cup). And we all know how important sleep is to our mental and physical health. Well, I was ignoring that need too and making up for it with liquid energy.
Sometimes we just need to sit and feel our emotions instead of finding another distraction from them.
It’s easy to confuse distraction with self care. True self care addresses our physical and emotional needs. Most of us know about our physical needs: food/hydration, shelter, clothing, sleep. But what about our emotional needs? A good place to start is by considering these 6:
• Certainty – A sense of security, safety and comfort in the world
• Variety – A sense of change, interest and adventure
• Significance – A sense of uniqueness, individuality and being of worth
• Love & Connection – A sense of acceptance, belonging and support
• Growth – A desire to learn, grow and evolve
• Contribution – The desire to give to those around us
This list is not a prescription by any means but it is a starting place to think creatively about your self care and what areas of your life you might be addressing, ignoring or simply missing the mark. For example, let’s talk about the emotional need for Love & Connection. If I’ve been home alone all day then going to a coffee shop (or the gym, or yoga class) could meet my need for connection with others because in these settings I may be around familiar faces, welcoming vibes and people with similar interests. I could also go a little deeper and make a greater effort to spend regular time with friends, schedule a game night in my own home or plan a date with my partner. Depending on other factors in my life I might also prioritize attending a support group on a daily or weekly basis or plan an entire girls weekend. There are so many ways to meet that need for Love & Connection… getting a cup of coffee barely skims the surface!
My need for Love & Connection can be better met by spending time with friends and loved ones.
So today I ask you to consider, is your self care is really meeting your emotional needs? Much of social media will tell you that good self care involves going to the gym, getting a massage, treating yourself to a coffee. None of this is inherently wrong or bad! But we do need to reflect on if that’s meeting your needs. And if it is, is it meeting your needs deeply and truly or is it close-enough and skimming the surface?
Do you feel like your self care is getting you the results that you want? Is it providing the relief you hoped? Do you have a sense that many of your needs are being unmet? Then now is the time to contact me and make an appointment to explore how you can get back on track. The options for self care create a limitless adventure and it’s truly something to be excited about. I’d be thrilled to help you on this new path. You deserve to have your needs met.