Life in the Recovery Room

How to heal, grow, and prosper in challenging times.

Self Care and the Happy Heart

It's no coincidence that we celebrate Valentine's Day in National Heart Month!

In keeping with our theme of self care, it is time to celebrate National Heart Month. So, yes, we’re going to talk about love; self love. And we are also talk about making sure to be the number one recipient of your gifts and love on Valentine’s Day.

Self love is not at all about being self-centered in a selfish, “all about me” way. It’s really about honoring our feelings (even when they are not facts), taking time for ourselves, and caring for ourselves in the same way we care for others.

Yes, it’s OK to “do unto yourself as you do to others”. There are too many of us who treat other people far better than we treat ourselves. Caregivers can fall prey to this attitude for any number of reasons. If you are one of these, now is the time to ask yourself, “Why?” What is it about you that doesn’t merit the same love, attention and compassion you bestow on friends and family? The answer to that question is, “Nothing”.

Let’s try a simple exercise and if you want to pick the perfect day, choose February 14th. I’d like you to go and look at yourself in the mirror. I mean really look into your own eyes. Do you know who that person is? Regardless, I’d like you to tell that person, “I love you. You are enough.”

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OK, how’d you do? Were you able to look into yourself and not just at yourself? Could you complete the exercise without difficulty? Or may I just as well have asked you to cut your arm off? If this was difficult for you, you might want to practice this until you believe it, no matter how long it takes.

Another thing you might want to consider is, “Would I believe it if someone else told me that? Sadly, some of us would not believe them either.

Our perception of ourselves is an important part of, not only self love, but of keeping an open, loving, healthy heart as well. Carrying negative emotions and self talk is a drain on our spirits and our physical wellbeing. Having a healthy heart is not always about eating well, exercising and maintaining good blood pressure… A healthy heart is also one that beats in the rhythm of self love.

Be your Valentine all tear long; take care of your heart and it will take care of you!

Happy Valentine’s Day and Happy Heart Month!

Dr. Jamie 

James Huysman, PsyD, LCSW, is a leading authority on caregiver burnout, compassion fatigue and related addictions. Aside from his blog here, he writes a behavioral health column for Florida MD.

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