The acronym SPA BEAR provides principles to live by that encourage self-care and feeling content through the busyness of life. Sometimes we have moments of meltdown because we aren’t meeting our body’s needs. The first part of the acronym (SPA) reminds us to place self-care as a priority daily. But for some bonus credit, the second half are things we can incorporate to prevent meltdowns and increase calmness.
The letters in BEAR stand for things to try to fit into your day that will keep you from becoming an “unpleasant bear”.
- B-Be kind to yourself: remember to give yourself a break when you mess up. Often times, we tell ourselves we “should” do something, making it a fact or a rule we need to follow. Take note of how often you “should” yourself. When you notice it, decide if it is a law (like gravity or stopping at a red light) and if it isn’t, give yourself a break and replace it with a “wish” statement.
- E-Exercise or move: our bodies are not designed to be static and sedentary. Incorporating a walk around the neighborhood, moving up and down the stairs, or utilizing a workout will keep your body in motion and produce the “happy” endorphins.
- A- Art of nothing: take the time to stop, a minimum of 2 minutes a day, and JUST BE. Use this time to learn how to daydream, sit and let your mind be, and work to slow your thoughts down. It doesn’t have to be meditation-just settle your mind on things other than your to-do list. Try incorporating this when you are heating something up in the microwave, or waiting for the water to boil. At first, the mind will run, focusing on to-do lists or other tasks, and it might be hard to redirect your mind. But keep working at it, learning to tolerate the distress to increase resilience.
- R-Rest: the suggested amount of sleep is 7.5-9 hours a night. However, sometimes this can get disrupted by our everyday life or using electronics too close to bedtime. Ideally work to turn off the blue lights/screens about 30 minutes before you intend to go to bed. Blue light that comes from screens and monitors mimics the same light that the sun produces. It tells the body to be awake and moving, which is the opposite of what we want when we are trying to fall asleep.
Note, there are always some exceptions and limitations to being able to incorporate all these principles. Work within your means and talk with your mental health therapist to best incorporate these principles into your life.
You can find more information on this topic on the Adventures in Brain Injury Podcast, Episode 19.
Written by: Emily Ruggles