Is It Time To SPICE Up Your Self Care?


In my book, Juggling Elephants, Todd Musig and I outline how the best way to manage your work and life is like running a circus. A key tenet is that you have three "rings" in your life: A work ring, a relationship ring, and a self ring. The key to success, we believe, is to have quality activities in all three rings... not just one or two.

An interesting part of the training on the book is when I have all three rings on a screen and ask the question, "Which ring do we neglect most often?" The universal response is always, "The self ring." Ironically, most people also acknowledge that it's the one that provides the greatest amount of energy to find success in the other two rings. If it's so important, why don't we do a better job taking care of our own personal needs?

One unique answer I received to this question came at a recent Juggling Elephants training program. A participant shared during a break that they believe we don't do a good job taking care of ourselves because we simply don't know how, and if it's hard... we just neglect it. We make feeble attempts, but don't really look at the total person. She also offered me a fantastic way to look at better self care that she uses while working as a Family and Consumer Sciences Extension agent in Kentucky. I'm thrilled to share it with you. It's called the SPICES model, and based on a quick Internet search, the model has been used in a variety of settings.

If you're ready to "spice" up your self care and get better results in all areas of your life, build your plans on these six areas when it's time to focus on personal renewal:

Even if you're an introvert, you know the power of spending time with people who encourage you and allow you to be yourself. I am reminded of the quote from Dr. Richard Swenson in his life-changing book, Margin. He wrote, "There are three types of people in your life: The fillers, the drainers, and those who just sit there." With whom are you spending most of your time?

Included in this area is everything from healthy eating to exercise and sleep.

"But I have to think all day at work!" you say. It's not that kind of intellectual thought. Focus instead on learning a new skill or studying something outside your normal pursuits. My wife recently started learning to play the guitar. Even she mentioned that while it's been hard, having a new challenge has improved her mental energy and overall attitude.

Think of this one as using a different part of your brain. It might be a hobby you engage in or simply some creative problem-solving. A recent "creative" journey for me was making meat jerky. Blending the spices, cutting the meat correctly, and baking it for the right amount of time seemed to challenge me in a fresh way.

If you're like me, you get a lot of positive emotional energy from the areas already mentioned in the model. The key question to ask is, "What activities could nourish and replenish your emotional energy?"

I think The Violence and Prevention Center said it best in their blog on the idea of spirituality in the SPICES model when they wrote: "What are you connecting to that's bigger than yourself?" They included religious practices, meditation, and volunteering in this category.

I'm just getting started using the SPICES model but I already appreciate it for being such a comprehensive way to evaluate my well-being and where I need to focus my time in my self ring to make the greatest gains.

Which of these SPICES need to be a bigger part of your self care?

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