-by Tim Grivois, Ed.D.
Stress is what we feel when demands from others and the pressure we place on ourselves is greater than the resources we have to manage it all. Chronic stress is what we feel when we come to understand that the sources of our stress probably aren’t going away on their own.
Every client I work with is a caring professional, or leads an organization of caring professionals. For most of us, serving others and working for social justice gives us purpose and meaning. However, many of us struggle to care for ourselves, often because we either view self-care as selfish, or as a luxury to indulge when the work gets done. I’d like to invite you to consider what might happen if instead we viewed self-care as a professional responsibility.
What might change for you as a caring person? For leaders, how might the organization you lead change?
True self-care happens from the inside out. Likely, you are highly skilled at recognizing, understanding, and naming the feelings and needs of those you serve. Here is an invitation to turn those skills inward by looking at the Eight Dimensions of Wellness.
Eight Dimensions of Wellness
Sort the cards
The first step towards using the Eight Dimensions of Wellness Cards (8DW Cards) as a tool for self-care is to get to know the cards. Some people prefer to sort on their own, and others find it useful to have some categories to work with. Here might be some ways to go about sorting your cards.
- Cards I’m good at / Cards I’m aware of / Cards I’ve not thought about in a while
- Can do it myself / involves others
- Fun / Important
- Want to do / Must do / Can’t do / Won’t do
Pick a card, any card
Ideally, the 8DW Cards are a way to check in with yourself without having to take a quiz or read a whole book on self-care. Once you’ve sorted the cards, pick one that connects to you.
While there are eight dimensions of wellness to consider, it’s usually more important to choose one for a reason that matters to you and get started. For example, right now I’m working on my Physical and my Social dimension of wellness. I picked the Physical card because I usually have a more productive day if I can get at least a few minutes of exercise in before my twin toddlers wake up. And, Social seems important to me know because I went to text one of my best friends, and I noticed I hadn’t texted her since May. Right now, those two cards matter most to me.
Plan and do
Now that you have a card you want to work with, it’s time to plan and do. Each card has ideas for self-care, and if you want, you can print the 5×7 cards on letter-size paper so you have room to write in your own ideas. Honestly, most people prefer not to write on the cards, so any way of writing something down will work for this step.
Sometimes, we pick a card that we know has some obvious next steps for us. For my physical self-care, it’s getting to bed by 10:00 so I can wake up early and do some push-ups. For social self-care, I’m going to call one friend on my lunch break. I may not completely address every aspect of self-care, but getting started feels good to me right now!
It’s also possible to pick a card and not know exactly what to do about it just yet. Maybe you want to address one of your 8DW Cards, but don’t know how to begin. If that happens, it might be enough to make some time to get more information. You could make an appointment with an expert, read a book that seems helpful, do some internet research, or listen to a podcast about handling money. Or, if that feels like too much to do, just pick another card.
Notice the difference
Perhaps the most important part of using the 8DW cards is noticing the differences you see and feel in your overall self-care practice. By reflecting on your own self-care through the Eight Dimensions of Wellness, you’ve probably uncovered several opportunities to be as generous with yourself as you are with others. And, since each of the dimensions are connected, small changes in one can often dramatically enhance the rest.
The practice of self-care is, by definition, all about the self. It’s about caring about ourselves as unconditionally and with as much dedication as we care about those we serve. I hope you find the 8DW cards helpful! Let us know how you’re using them in the comments below.
You can download a free copy of the 8DW Cards at the link above. Click here to support your self-care practice with your own durable deck.