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Self-Nurturing Tips

Here's a sampling of self-nurturing tips from a beautifully illustrated deck of cards called Self-Nurturing Solitaire, written by Jean Zartner and illustrated by Idelle Jones.

See all 53 tips, click here.

1. Even if you've never been married, sign up for a class on grief or divorce recovery. It'll help you understand the rebuilding process. The next time you feel you've lost something (a person, an opportunity, a dream) you can handle the experience better.

2. Start a folder labeled "Warm Fuzzies," "Positive Strokes," or something like that. In it, keep a record of your accomplishments and the kudos other people give you. This is especially useful at work, where you can use it as fuel to light up your next performance review. Any day you're feeling down or less than confident, you can look at this folder and smile.

3. Take a class about writing humor or doing stand-up or improvisational comedy - but don't give up your day job just yet. Even if you don't feel you're talented, think of the fun people you'll meet and the laughs you'll have!

4. Start a "humor refrigerator." Write down or cut out humorous tidbits, including Reader's Digest anecdotes, e-mails, funny puns, bumper stickers, personal license plates, ads, and jokes on the radio. Periodically move them to a folder to make room for new ones. By always keeping a new supply of funny gems in plain sight, they can cheer you up more often. If it doesn't work, you can always open a magnet store.

5. Plan a reunion with long-time friends. Meet at a place that would appeal to all of you. That way, people may be more likely to show up, because it's more like a vacation than just a reunion. Plus, you can share a new adventure, instead of just reminiscing about the old times and the old stompin' grounds. That helps to reinforce the friendships and move them forward.

6. Rent a funny video. Keep a piece of paper in your wallet or purse to list comedies people recommend. That way, the next time you go to a video store - you're set. Even if someone recommends a current movie, it won't be long before it's in the video stores. Many libraries loan videos, too.

7. Volunteer to hold babies at a hospital nursery. Babies are basic. They haven't accumulated a lot of garbage like our contemporaries have (unless of course you count the hazardous waste when changing diapers). When a baby smiles or laughs, it's hard for your heart not to melt. Awwww.

8. Visit friends who have pets you can Öwell, pet. That way, you get to feel silky fur and hear soothing purrs - without the vet bills and achey back (from lugging big bags of dog food or litter). Upon first meeting a friend's pet, try lying face down on the floor and waiting patiently with your hand outstretched. Usually Fido or Fluffy or will decide to come have a sniff.

9. Learn and practice yoga, especially compression poses. For example, curl up in a ball and pretend you're being squozen like an orange. (Is that the right verb? Squeeze, squoze, squozen?) Anyway, compression poses are like giving your whole body a hug. Yoga is for your mind, body, and spirit. It helps you deal better with everyday stress, breathe more deeply, and even makes you more patient.

10. Feel the mountain air against your skin. If there isn't a mountain handy, open the car window and let the air tickle your arm hairs as you drive. Noticing little sensations like that can be calming. We so often become out of touch with our bodies because we're so much into our heads. Focusing on body sensations takes us back to the basics and helps us slow down.

11. Wear fabrics like velvet, silk, and cashmere. If your wardrobe consists more of textures like polyester or denim, go to stores with luxurious fabrics or clothes and browse (with your hands). Enjoy how the various textures feel. Pet the plush animals in stores, too. Shopping can a lot more fun and satisfying if you consciously make it a sensory experience.

12. Get a massage. To save money, make an appointment with a student at a massage school, or find a massage therapist who's just starting out. This costs less, so you can do it more often. Or, try some of the self-massage devices sold at health food stores. Wooden rollers, massage balls, and battery-operated massagers won't feel as good as a professional massage - but you can use them whenever you want. Find one you can keep at the office, too.

13. If you're not meeting your daily hug quota, mentally turn compliments into hugs. For instance, if a friend writes and says, "I miss you," imagine her giving you hugs - even if she's miles away. Or if a co-worker says, "Nice presentation," take it as a hug, even if actual hugs simply aren't done in your office.

14. Gently work your way up to having more physical contact with friends: give a high five, pat a shoulder, squeeze a hand. You'll be able to tell which people are ok with it, because they'll start to reciprocate.

15. Baby yourself: a soft blanket, the motion of a rocking chair, a stuffed animal. Make faces at yourself in a mirror. Giggle. Wiggle your toes. Smile at strangers. Bawl lustily. If you feel the need for a pacifier, drink from a sports water bottle.

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