Sometimes our mood can get in the way of our effectiveness and concentration. I created this two-page To-Do List that has reminders for compassion, breathing, letting go, and other healthy habits that focus on our mental well-being. On the second page, the small checkbox area has blank spaces so you can add your own goal, mantra, coping skill, or habit for the day. Perhaps you want to make sure you take your vitamins, or make that eye doctor appointment, or simply remind yourself that you are worthy or enough. It’s totally up to you. I also added a reminder that you need to be well to be able to accomplish your tasks and overall goals or mission you stand for (or work in). In short, you have to take care of yourself to continue to be able to do the work you do.
*This file is for your personal use only. It may not be sold, copied, distributed, shared or altered in any way. Do not share this file with anyone else. They are solely for you. You may direct others to this site to get their own download.
*You may make multiple copies of your list and in fact are encouraged to. Our self-care needs and ideas change all the time.
*This list does not replace medical or mental health treatment.
Self-compassion on Valentine’s Day (and everyday, multiple times a day) is going to be important for people who might have some pain associated with relationships and find themselves triggered on this day (pretty much everyone). While the commercialization of the day is widespread, we can’t help but see all messages about love, coupledom, and gifts galore. Which in and of itself, can be triggering. While this day is associatedwith intimate relationships (at least here in the U.S., in Latin America it’s deemed Day of Love and Friendship), I’d like to invite you all to examine the relationship with yourself and practice self-compassion on Valentine’s Day, regardless of your relationship status, plans for the day, and even beyond that. Self-Compassion expert, Dr. Kristin Neff defines self-compassion as encompassing three main parts: self-kindness, the commonality of suffering among all, and mindfulness of emotions without judgment (www.selfcompassion.org). Easy-pleasy, right?
Practicing self-compassion can be really hard especially for people who grew up hearing constant criticism about the things they do or about who they are. Self-compassion might also be hard for those who tend to use rigid thinking, aka black-and-white and all-or-nothing thinking. “Shoulding” on yourselves and others also makes it hard to practice compassion because there is frustrated judgment/expectations.
The way you do self-compassion is by: 1) acknowledge the suffering, which can sound like, “I’m feeling really lonely right now.” 2) Explore with value is being targeted, “connection/love is really important to me. I like being with people who love me and who I feel safe around.” 3) Be kind to yourself (Tip: ifthis is hard to do, think of what you would tell your 5 year old self who is feeling lonely). You can do this by engaging in healthy relationships (key: must be healthy and safe) or by nurturing the relationship with yourself by engaging in things you like to do, being creative, treating yourself with a healthy activity, listening to your body (rest, eat, sleep, exercise, stretch, take prescribed medications, etc.), 4) Lastly, connect with the commonality of suffering and how kind you’ve been to others. Then turn that compassion toward yourself: “Suffering is a normal part of life. If my best friend was suffering, I’d hold her and tell her, ‘I got you.'” Get you. Hold you. Be good to you. Say these nice things to yourself.
Self-care and self-validation are also crucial any time of the year. Self-care is when you do things that are simply good for you. Whether it’s saying no to others, feeding yourself, resting, taking a long bath, or prioritizing paying your bills, all those things are good for you. Self-validation is when you acknowledge your struggle for what it is and can link how feeling a certain way makes sense for you given your experience. It can sound like, “Yes, it makes sense to feel this.” It’s not praise, it’s more of telling yourself that your emotions are are true and they matter.
Want to get yourself or a loved one something wellness related? Check out these gift ideas (Disclosure: I am a part of the Amazon Affiliate Program where I earn a small commission from items purchased from these links. Which I in turn use, to buy new books to review and recommend):
A weighted blanket which is said to help with sleep for people who suffer from anxiety disorders, sensory issues and many other sensitivities.
2. Gratitude journal
3. Passion Planner to help focus on goal setting.
4. Journal Focused on Affirming and Self-Care
5. “Read me when” Cards: I created these cards for people to use as coping cards or reminders for when times are tough and it’s hard to remember the balanced thoughts you came up with. They are wallet sized and on matted card stock paper. Sometimes it can make all the difference in coping. To order some, feel free to email me at email@example.com. Mention this blog and get 20 for $10.
Want to listen to amazing podcasts that inspire healing, growth, creativity and self-love? Check out these that I’ve been personally obsessed with in the last month:
In closing, I wish you all a great day whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day or not. I wish you all moments of peace from your suffering. Ultimately, I wish for you to find the right words and actions that contribute to your well-being.
For more updates on the blog, giveaways, and sources of inspiration, follow me on instagram at @mendingrootstherapy.
The term “First Gen” has become both a compassionate term of endearment and a resounding validation of experience. First Gen refers to First Generation – being the first in the family become a naturally born citizen in the United States. In my office, it also means First generation to take A.P. classes in high school, go to college, and/or become a professional. The experience of First Gens is a unique one that many can’t relate to which can leave First Gens feeling alone, misunderstood, with an incredible pressure to succeed in every life domain, and an underlying fear of being an imposter through it all. Today, I’m focusing on the themes that have come up in my First Gen therapy sessions, clinical supervision, and heart-to-hearts with the comadres and how compassion heals.
I take a radically open approach that incorporates acceptance and self-compassion. In my opinion, these are the hardest skills and concepts to continually practice, and yet, they’re the best ones for ultimate healing. The concept of the to-say list came from my First Gen clients. First Gen Professionals love them their To-Do lists. It’s what got them through high school AP classes, college and thriving in their professions. I #jokenotjoke that Self-Compassion and Acceptance skills need to be permanent items on the Daily To-Do list, and to add a dramatic flare, in the morning, noon, and night rows!
Acceptance as a skill is super important because one is accepting reality (whether current or in the past) as it is, “tal y como es.” This might mean accepting the emotion or struggle you’re experiencing. Acceptance helps in reducing our suffering because once we accept and let go of the struggle, we remove the internal tension and effort it takes to deny, avoid, or fight against it.
Self-compassion is the right hand to Acceptance in that, when used, it will save the day in a way that provides genuine self-comfort and validation. It should not be confused with praise or affirmations stating you’re “Amazing and gorgeous, strong beyond measure who can rock any hurdle that comes along.” It is a genuine effort to remind yourself of everything you’ve been through while taking it easy on yourself. It’s acknowledging that what’s hard is hard and you’re worthy of love and healing. I tell my clients that self-compassion is like giving yourself the same gentle care that you would to a hurt child, kitty or puppy who is scared, hurt and tattered. You would likely (if you’re a child or animal lover) clean the injuries up very gently, speak in a kind and low tone, and walk them through exactly what’s going to help heal them (putting this medication/ bandaid on you, taking you to the doctor, I know it hurts. I know you’re scared. Let’s feed you some food and help heal you).
Check out the First Gen Compassion To-Say List below and see if any resonate or are useful to you. I started with a validation statement. Threw our parents’ struggle in there, along with a little something on Love Languages. There’s a nod to the other side of “being independent” and asking for help. Imposter syndrome also makes an appearance, along with helping behavior being a compensatory strategy, and being enough exactly how you are. And it ends with self-care and healing as an individual and also as a community.
If you find yourself being intrigued by Acceptance and Self-Compassion Topics, I strongly urge you to check out my most favorite authors and books on the topic (the links below are Amazon affiliate links, which means that I earn a small commission from books purchased with these links):
You’re sitting with your BFF (best friend forever) as she’s depressed, in tears and describing her extremely painful situation(s). You feel so much for her and also feel frozen. You don’t know what to do or say to make her feel better. All you know is you want her pain to end and don’t know how.
This is an all too common scenario among those with close relationships. For us empaths (“How to know if you’re an empath“), it can be incredibly hard to sit with challenging emotions or a problem that we can’t “fix” (even if we are 1000% certain we know how to fix it).
So, what the heck do you say to someone who has a lot of pain and several problems that need solving? By now you all know that this is a therapist’s blog and I’m going to recommend that you encourage them to seek professional help with a therapist. You also know that your loved one would benefit from therapy (whether or not you’ve gone to therapy yourself). You know that these problems are obviously too big for you and he to carry alone. And perhaps you can feel the toll it’s taken on your relationship or even your own well-being as a loved one.
“So how do I tell my loved ones to get therapy for depression (or any other mental illness), without stigmatizing or offending them?”
I get this question by clients, other friends, family members and and even fellow therapists ALL. THE. TIME.
Below is my list of things to remember and ways to tell a loved one that they’re in need of professional help.
Start with validating their emotions. Validation is a little like stating the obvious – which is why a lot of people skip it, but people who are depressed really need to feel like their voice is heard or struggle is being seen. This is where you can say things like:
You are in so much pain right now.
I know this is really hard for you.
“You went through something really traumatic. It makes sense that you’re in pain.”
“I’m so sorry you’re suffering like this.”
Introducing the idea of a therapist.
“You deserve to have someone who is unbiased, non-judgmental and in your corner – on your side.”
“A therapist doesn’t have all the history you and I do.”
“A therapist has a lot more tools and training than I do to help you.”
(For my fellow therapists) “Even though I’m a therapist, I can’t be your therapist. I’m your sister/brother/friend/partner/wife/husband. My love is not professional. Ethically, I can’t be your therapist. My advice is biased — all full of love for you.”
If they say they’ve tried therapy before and it didn’t work, encourage them to try with another therapist. Not all therapists will be helpful or the right fit. They can definitely shop around until finding “the one” for this situation, in this moment (sometimes different issues require different expertise).
Why it all matters. We all deserve unconditional compassion.
“You deserve to heal appropriately.”
“You deserve to feel free to express yourself.”
“You deserve to be free of your depression.”
“You deserve to work through this issue without fear of judgment or that people will get offended.”
“You deserve to self-care. You take care of so many other people. You need someone just for you.”
“You don’t have to be alone in your suffering. A therapist can help you hold it appropriately.”
How to seek referrals
If your loved one has insurance, there is a ‘member services’ phone number on it (most are on the back). Ask for their mental health services department. I recommend talking to a live person to have them email a list of their providers that are close to the home or work (or the city the person wants to seek services in). They can then cross reference that list online by searching the therapist and a website.
You can also type in the search engine of your choice, “Therapist in (city)” or by zipcode.
psychologytoday.com is an online therapist directory that you can filter by location and insurance.
If your loved one is an adult you won’t be able to call a therapist for them. The person seeking services has to make the call and schedule their appointment
What about you? Yes, YOU! As a friend or family member, it can be difficult to hold all this pain and responsibility alone. If you’re finding yourself in a lot of emotional crises with family or friends, it’s critical for you to get your own support too. You might be having a lot of guilt feelings or a high degree of expectation for how you help them. It’s hard sitting with uncertainty and pain. Feelings and core beliefs of helplessness contribute to burnout, stress and your own ideas of what it means to be a true friend/family member. Sort it out with someone who is trained to work with burnout, self-care, and families afflicted by mental illness. Family Connections is a great source of support for loved ones of Borderline Personality Disorder or Emotion Dysregulation in general. I was trained by them and have implemented this support group in Spanish at Harbor UCLA. It made all the difference in loved ones being able to place appropriate boundaries, self-care and understanding for their family members. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is another great resource to anyone who has been impacted by mental illness (individuals and friends/family members). Check out these posts I wrote about convincing ourselves to self-care and basic self-care practices. They were written for parents, but the message applies to anyone shouldering the responsibility of helping in general. Implement the #meforwe or self(care)ish message if it helps.
7. Crises. If you feel that your loved one is a danger to themselves or others, I strongly urge you to call 911 or take them to the nearest emergency room. In Los Angeles County you can also call Department of Mental Health’s Access Hotline at (800) 854-7771 where you can speak to a mental health staff member and who can help with sending out the Psychiatric Mobile Response Team (PMRT) to your home to evaluate someone (wait times vary). Lots of police departments also have Mental Health Evaluations Teams that go out and conduct welfare checks to someone’s home and can also evaluate for a psychiatric hospitalization. Check with your local police station about this resource.
Lastly, I’d like to make myself available as a resource. After being trained in various family support models, I appreciate the love, struggle and compassion of family members. Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a 15 minute consult to determine if you would benefit from therapy and support of your own.
How to be a better parent by being Self(care)ish: 20 easy 5-minute ideas to nourish yourself
Sofia Mendoza, LCSW
Have you ever felt guilty or even selfish for indulging in some down time while your littles are in daycare, with grandparents or friends? If you have, you’re not alone. Every time I ask a parent about how they self-care, there’s a hesitation, then a laugh, and then a “well….” In my experience, not only is it hard for parents to talk about how they self-care, but for many, it brings up a lot of guilt about being selfish for doing pleasurable things for themselves without their kids. The good news is that for you to be the parent you want to be, who’s fun to be around, consistent in your discipline and loving, and present you must practice self-care daily. Self-care nourishes us, it helps ward off stress and illness, and it helps to clear our mind. If you’re like most parents I know, you’re probably feeling all kinds of depleted and in survival mode.
Flight attendants know this well and they remind us that in the event of an emergency aboard, to ensure that we put on our own oxygen mask on before helping others or children. I like to remind myself that I can’t pour from an empty cup. Audrey Lorde, a mother, warrior, civil rights activist and poet, describes the need for self-care as “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” Self-care is crucial as we’re at the intersection of all our roles, responsibilities, and our own (unfair) expectations for ourselves.
Before you start engaging in self-care, start with changing the way your think about self-care. If you have thoughts that self-care is selfish, try swapping it for “self(care)ish.” I think it’s important to acknowledge when “selfish” comes up and I’m not asking you to abandon it, simply swap it. You can also try hashtagging or swapping it for the phrase #meforwe. You’re taking care of yourself now, for the benefit of your important “we” later.
Finding the time or money can be a barrier for self-care, that’s why I asked family, friends, and clients about their favorite 5-minute crucial self-care ideas. The response was great and we all agreed that these 5-minutes of self-care would not solve our biggest problems, but they definitely contribute to having a clear mind to be able to tackle the big ticket-heavy duty problems throughout our day.
Take a look at these easy and (mostly) free 20 5-minute Self-Care Ideas that anyone can do to help fill up their cup:
A 5 minute bathroom break alone.
Drinking your morning coffee/tea warm and alone before the children wake up (extra points if you sit down or put your feet up).
Set out a few outfits at night so that you’re not scrambling in the AM.
Sitting in the car and closing your eyes for 5 minutes.
Put on your favorite dancing song and go at it.
Singing or listening to THE song. The one that provides you with clarity, good memories, energy.
Looking through pictures of your loved ones.
Calling a friend who makes you laugh and “gets you.” You might say to them, “I need you to make me laugh right now. I only have 5 minutes.”
Gratitude journaling. Take stock of the good in your life and write it down.
Belly breathing. Good quality breathing is great for managing anxiety and resetting the system.
I’m a big fan of 5 minutes of skimming or even reading bits of an article or book.
Listening to books on tape or audible. A friend of mine loves listening to podcasts or Ted Talks on youtube. This can be done while driving, washing dishes, or even making dinner.
You can color with your children or take it a step further and use an adult coloring book.
Come up with a term of endearment for yourself. “My dear;” “My love;” “Amorcito;”
See free apps like Headspace, Mindfulness, Simple Habit Meditation, Relax Meditation, Calm Meditation, 5 minute escapes – Guided Meditations.
Drinking water – it’s important to stay hydrated.
Taking medications, vitamins or supplements. After taking my emergenC, I usually feel like a champ and every time I get sick, I realize I haven’t been keeping up with my vitamin regimen.
Self-compassion. It’s incredibly important and can sound like this:
Replace “selfish” with “self(care)ish to remind yourself that you need some you time to be well for everyone else
Tell yourself that you can’t pour from an empty cup and that’s why you are choosing to be kind to yourself
You’re doing the best you can right now
Parenting is hard. My love [or whichever term of endearment you came up with], you’re doing a very hard thing right now. Be easy on yourself.
It’s ok to feel [insert emotion]. My dear, you’ve been through a lot
Watch funny or heartwarming videos (the ones with the dressed-up dogs or baby hedgehogs)
Engage any of your five senses and observe (taste, touch, smell, see, hear)
I had a really hard time limiting this list to 20 self-care activities. I bet there are lots of things you all are already doing. Feel free to share your favorite ideas in the comments. My goal is to provide a 100-idea list in the future.
Coming up with self-care ideas can be hard, especially if you’re dealing with a lot of stress, depression or anxiety. Remind yourself to get help if you need it. Therapy can be a great way for you to be able to self-care, be kind to yourself, and focus on your well-being. You deserve it. You are the most important person in your child’s life.