What can I say… I love this book, The Art of Extreme Self-Care, so much I decided to write a whole blog post extolling its virtues! As a former stressed out mess, I wish Cheryl Richardson’s book had been available when I was looking for ways to curb and manage the insane amount of stress I used to have in my life.
When I read her introduction to the book, I knew it was going to be good. This is someone who’s been there. She was working crazy hours, helping others succeed, but not taking care of herself. When her life coach confronted her about these “good girl” tendencies she says she realized “Thomas was right: I was a good girl, and it was sucking the life out of me.”
Oh my, I could certainly relate to that. I too, had been a good girl and it sucked the life out of me as well. What I eventually came to realize, after years of classes and more books than I could count, was that I was my biggest stressor. She came to realize that about herself, too.
Truth be told, most people are their own worst stressor. Maybe you are, too. We blame our stress on the things other people do and say, but in reality it’s our response to their words and actions that stress us out the most. That was a hard, bitter pill for me to swallow. But once I did and made some changes, similar to the ones that Cheryl Richardson outlines in this book, I was much happier and felt a huge reduction in the amount of stress in my life.
You might be asking yourself, “If you have a handle on your stress, why would you get so excited about a book that told you what you already knew?” And that would be a fair question. The answer is simple and threefold. First, it confirmed what I knew (or thought I knew). Never underestimate the power of confirmation. Second, it’s everything I learned over the course of at least a decade all in one handy book with handy worksheets, self-care exercises, and resources. Thirdly, it gave me a much needed reminder that when unexpected or unusually large stressors hit our lives, we often revert to our old habits without even being aware of it.
When I picked up this book over a year ago, I had been feeling like I was backsliding from all the progress I had previously made. This book helped me realize that it wasn’t really backsliding; I was just having the unconscious reaction of defaulting to old coping habits when confronted with larger than normal amounts of stress. Once aware of that, I was able to stop beating myself up and make the needed changes to get myself back on course.
The beauty of this book is it’s simplicity and sensibility. It’s broken down into 12 chapters, each of which deals with one aspect of self-care. It explains the concept, tells you why it’s important, and gives you brilliant suggestions for ways to incorporate this concept into your life. Each chapter ends with a list of extremely useful resources that includes books, websites, audio programs, and podcasts.
Let me tease you with the juicy chapter titles:
I highly suggest reading the entire book before going back and starting to do the challenge at the end of the each chapter, one chapter/challenge per month. It’s entirely doable. I said before that her suggestions are simple and sensible, but what I didn’t tell is that they’re not easy. It’s like learning any other new skill; it won’t be easy taking care of yourself if it’s something you’re not used to doing. I can tell you, however, that it is SO worth it.
Your turn: Do you need to increase your self-care? Are you willing to be uncomfortable for a while in order to be happier in the long run?