My 5 Non-Negotiables


Non-Negotiables of Self Care


I’ve been talking to someone recently about my health - mental, physical and emotional. All three are suffering and need different things in order to start feeling “normal” again. My normal is the ability to get through each day with enough energy to do what I need to do, with a positive attitude and a lot of self-acceptance. I allow myself to feel whatever I’m feeling and understand that grief is part of my daily life.


For many years I beat myself up constantly and it's taken a lot of work to kick out the critical inner voice and replace her with a voice of compassion and grace. Who knows how much time any of us has left? I need all the love I can get, even from myself.


So, the woman I’ve been talking with suggested I come up with 5 non-negotiables that I do every day no matter what. That in itself feels like too much but I told her I’d try. So far, I haven’t done all five on any one day but when I don’t, I don’t fret over it. I just notice that I didn’t do them and tell myself I will try again tomorrow.


I’m sharing this because I know I’m not the only one who struggles. My grieving friends, especially, have an extra weight on their shoulders that can make them feel heavy and tired even on a good day.


My non-negotiables are nothing fancy, they are things I’ve chosen to do for years, but don’t always follow through. I do feel better when I accomplish these simple tasks - that’s why I keep working toward making them habits that I don’t have to think about.


  1. Drink 96 ounces of water every day (I drink out of 24 oz. mason jars, so I try to drink 4 jars).

  2. Walk my dogs (if it's too hot, I skip this and take them to the dog park where there’s a lot of shade - but I still haven’t been doing it every day)

  3. Stretch my entire body from head to toe (sitting too much is really hard on the old bod, this helps)

  4. Dance to a song (this is really hard for me most days, I don’t feel like dancing, but when I do a lightness takes over)

  5. Journal (I follow Julia Cameron’s “Morning Papers” method and do a basic brain dump on paper to free up my brain to be more creative and less stressed)


I also try to eat right and get plenty of sleep - these are above non-negotiable; they are just the way it has to be. I don’t like to eat so this is a tough one for me, I do however, love to sleep.


I am the first to admit I take anti-depressants and recently switched meds to see if it would help - it didn’t. It made me worse so now I am going back to my old one (I guess I should inform my doctor, but I feel confident making the change without him, I know myself - he doesn’t know me other than a file on his desk).


Do you have non-negotiables? What are they? Can you tell when you let them slide?


Hoping everyone has a good month of July, summer is here, and the time is right for dancing in the street (according to Marvin Gaye when he wrote this for Martha and the Vandellas!)