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The Extreme Self-Care First Aid Kit

Excerpted from an article by Connie Mears in an interview with author Cheryl Richardson concerning her new book The Art of Extreme Self-Care (Hay House, 2009).

The art of extreme self-care, it seems, is all about making choices-every day, in large and small ways-that support you and your highest interests.   Without fail or apology.

"The minute you catch yourself saying 'I have no choice,' you need to consult somebody else," [Richardson] says.  "You need to go to somebody you trust, tell them where you feel stuck, tell them what you know you need and think you just can't possibly get, and ask them to help you see a different way.  There's always a fresh perspective you're just not seeing"

The phrase "extreme self-care" was introduced to Richardson by her first coach when she was talking with him about the amount of time and energy she was spending on everybody else's needs but her own.  Practicing extreme self-care means making choices and decisions based on what your soul wants instead of what your history or your fears tell you that you should want.  It's really about listening to your inner voice and making decisions from that place.

Cheryl's First Aid Kit consists of 10 ways to take good care of yourself when you need the most support.  To create your kit, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Whom can I turn to for support when I'm afraid?  Who comforts me, makes me feel safe, and allows me to have my feelings?
2. Whom do I need to avoid?  Who adds to my anxiety level, overwhelms me with questions, or has a tough time just listening without interrupting or offering advice?
3. What does my body need to feel nurtured, strong, and healthy?
4. What responsibilities or commitments do I need to let go of to clear some space so that I'm able to feel my feelings and do what's necessary to honor my needs?
5. What unhelpful coping strategies or activities do I need to avoid?
6. What spiritual practice restores my faith or connects me with God or a Higher Power of my own understanding?
7. What do I need to feel comforted at this time?
8. How will I best express my feelings?
9. What object can I use as a talisman that will remind me to breathe, relax my thinking mind, and return my awareness to the present moment?
10. What can I do when I need to take a break from the emotional stress?  What's my best healthy distraction?

The answers to these questions will help you formulate a plan of action that you can use when faced with a big life challenge.