Monday, July 18, 2011

Summer Rejuvenation

Summer (especially in New England) is the best time of year for self care in my opinion. Here are some of my favorite self care activities for the summer months.:

- Gardening
Spring and summer are wonderful times to utilize gardening as a self care tool. Taking care of something other than the people you are caring for, can be soothing, healing even. If you are a caregiver, then nurturing is in your nature. Tending to flowers provides a satisfying outlet where you can nurture something in to life and bloom, without some of the major stressors you may find in your work caring for human beings.  The best part about flowers is that they respond to your care, and the don't talk back to you! There is no complaining, there is no suffering to face and sit with (unless you slack off in your watering duties perhaps :-).

Because gardening produces a beautiful, tangible outcome that is both soothing to surround yourself with, and satisfying in a way that caring for others may not be.  One of the most draining parts of caring for others for me, tends to be the frustration in not seeing tangible results. Especially in the mental health field, progress can be so very slow, and digression is all too common. So for me, there is something about nurturing living plants that yield tangible results in the form of beautiful flowers, that sooths me.

I acknowledge that to all people who consider themselves to have green thumbs, and the thought of having another responsibility, such as watering plants, is just about enough to send you into panic. But if you make it part of your after work, self care routine, I find it is a great way to detach from the days caregiving stress, to take some quiet time for myself, and to stimulate my senses by feeling the sun and the water, by smelling the scents and viewing the vibrant colors. It is rejuvenating and recharging.

- Photography
One of my favorite creative outlets for self care has become photography. Similar to gardening, it is something  with a tangible outcome that I can surround myself with. Summer offers a beautiful time of year to photograph summer scenery. Taking pictures of the flowers in my gardens has enabled me to combine two of my self care outlets.  My living room has become my "photo gallery," so that I have been able to further surround myself with beauty that I have played a part in making.  I find scenery photography soothing and centering. It also is a great tool to surround yourself with pictures of loved ones and moments of connections and laughter. remembering our connections to those who love and care for us cannot be underestimated.

- A Great View
There is something incredibly soothing about sitting in front of a view that is far reaching, especially one with a vantage point. When I am feeling particularly overwhelmed, I go to my favorite local beach, that looks out toward a lighthouse on the horizon. There has been research done that suggests that this type of view with a vantage point in the distance is stress reducing and can promote clarity. The view doesn't have to be of the beach. It could be a meadow, or a lake, or the view from a hill. Think about where you live. Where is there a good view with a vantage point? Take some time to hike that hill, or walk out to that beach, or to drive out to that straight away. take some time to stop, and sit, and breathe. If you meditate this would be a great place to do that.

How do you take advantage of the summer months to rejuvenate yourself?

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