What is Inside Your Emotional Self-Care Tool Box?

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What is Inside Your Emotional Self-Care Tool Box?

By Janet Nestor for Aspire Magazine

I am in the midst of change. I just moved from one home to another, from one state to another.  As I am writing his article, I am using a chair as my desk, the floor as my chair, and I’m taking a break from unpacking boxes and putting things away. Who better to share her thoughts on transition than me?

We all know that transitions are a natural part of everyone’s life. We make them every day, yet the idea of it is intimidating because the concept of transition has a negative thought field built up around it. Many of us believe that transition means negative change, and it doesn’t. Transitions are often positive and all ultimately provide opportunity for growth and beneficial changes in our thinking, beliefs, and behaviors.

Often, and in many ways, we choose our transitions. We change doctors, join a support group, begin the day with brown hair and end it with red, join a yoga class, go back to school, re-decorate our home, take a better job, separate from our spouse.

At other times, life transitions come per-loaded with stress.  They are unwanted or unexpected, and we’ve been trained to react in certain ways to certain things that we tag as “high stress” events: Your only child begins first grade or leaves home for college – you or someone you love is diagnosed with a serious illness – a loved one dies – your military spouse is deployed – a parent becomes disabled and needs help – you graduate law school and take your first professional job – your parents divorce – you get fired – you retire – your move to a new home.

Increased self-awareness can reduce anxiety and positively change your responses to challenging life events.

However change comes in our lives, welcomed our unwanted, we have an adjustment to make. Change forces personal growth: mental, emotional, spiritual, professional, and we find ourselves searching for a new normal. It is up to you and I, and all others going through a life transition, to define and design what that new normal will look like. Now is the time to be creative and experiment a bit.

My move is loaded with change: Rural vs. metropolitan, single family home vs. rental condo, inland living vs. coastal living, private practice counseling vs. working from home, grandchildren within driving distance vs. flying to visit, and other changes to numerous to mention. Can I make the change with ease, and what skills can I pull out of my emotional self-care tool box to create a graceful transition?  Can I maintain a mindful life-style, feel happy and greet each new discovery or challenge with open arms and an open heart? Can I feel a sense of trust as I search for a new doctor and dentist, find a hair stylist, a florist, a group or a class to join, local parks, my favorite grocery store, form new friendships.

I am responsible for my thoughts, beliefs and perceptions, and right now they determine how well and how quickly I’ll adjust.  As I look at the boxes and the array of things that have not yet found a home, I can be overwhelmed, or I can accept that settling-in is a process that I’ll complete one day at a time. I can get frustrated when a decorating idea does not work, or I can lovingly give myself permission to try again. I can drop exhausted at the end of the day, or I can work for awhile and then take a walk along the green-way that just happens to be a path along the Chesapeake Bay sporting a crushed shell surface that is stunning! (Jackpot!)

I am anticipating my personal care wants and needs and finding ways to fulfill them now as this gives me confidence.  I’m asking questions and creating my new world.  There are no limits on the number of questions I allow myself to ask and no limit on the number of times I can change my mind.

Mindful living makes life easier and kinder. A mindful life-style is one lived in the moment, conscious and aware of personal feelings and the feelings of others in your environment. It is directed by positive thought and a loving heart, never judgmental or critical. So … here are some mindful life-style ideas for your emotional self-care tool box. They’ll help make your transitions easier, no matter how small or how challenging they may be.

  1. Think positive, and if you catch negative self-talk, re-word your thought immediately.
  2. Make self-trust your self-care mantra.
  3. Smile, it automatically reduces internal stress.
  4. Create a view of your transition that has an imaginary open door. Open mental doors create an open mind that allow feelings and ideas to change, flow and develop
  5. Honor the transition so the new beginning can unfold.
  6. You’re writing a new chapter of your life, so consciously adopt new ideas and actions to replace the old ones that aren’t working for you.
  7. Connect all the dangling pieces of your life – create a continuation of the positive aspects.
  8. Remember who you are, and live with strength from your center.
  9. Don’t allow yourself to obsess over one thing that bothers or frightens you.
  10. Stay active. Walk. Swim. Have fun.
  11. Breathe consciously, concentrating on relaxing your shoulders or any other part of your body that is stiff and sore and holding tension.
  12. Treat yourself with compassion, kindness no matter what!

“Continuity gives us roots, change gives us branches, letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights.” ~ Pauline Kezer


  • So well written Janet, and such wonderful advice. I felt my self become calm and reflective by merely reading your words. Of course I am not surprised. You are an constant inspiration!

    Thank you for sharing,

    • Hi Karen,
      Thank you for stopping by and for taking the time to leave a note! Love it! Love you!

    • Hi Shelley! Thank you so much for your kind words and for taking the time to write a note! We have a lot in common as we both work from the heart! Love and Smiles beautiful lady!

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