Jul 28, 2015


Taking Care of the Whole You

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The New Latina Guide to a Fabulous 2011 Year! is a collection of insights and tips from a group of talented Latinas (and one Latino) on how to live life to the fullest.  Today, we feature Angélica Pérez-Litwin’s piece, on self-care.  To download the free New Latina Guide, click here.


If you’re feeling out of sorts, exhausted, empty or emotional, chances are you’re depleted.  The reality is that we, Latina women, get a lot accomplished.  We work, build careers and businesses, mother our children, care for our parents (and abuelitos and suegras), support our husbands/partners, and even help out in our communities.

Undeniably, “caretaker” is our middle name, except (of course) when it comes to taking care of our self.  The caretaker role has been well ingrained and, despite how Americanizada we have become, we continue to rescue and take care of the whole world, at the expense of taking care of our self.

Pero, ¡ya basta!

It’s time you start setting some good boundaries, let your family do what they need to do, and focus on yourself.  Literally, mind your own business.

The longer you avoid taking care of you, all of you, the more you’ll end up depressed, fat, angry, upset, frustrated and tired.

Start Slow and Simple

Taking care of yourself takes time, planning, effort and commitment. These are four crucial elements.  If this sounds like too much work for you, don’t give up just yet.  I’ll let you in on a secret – slow, turtle steps will get you to the finish line!

Start with 10 minutes a day.  Get off Facebook or your computer for 10 minutes and focus on YOU.  And in case you’re wondering, the computer is not relaxation time. It is procrastination time, your unconscious way to avoid what you don’t want to face or do.

A Balanced Self-Care Approach

It helps to assess how well you’re doing in the area of self-care.  So, let’s take a look at the big circle below; let’s call it the Self-Care Wheel.  The fundamental premise of the Self-Care Wheel is that in order for us to feel good about ourselves, we need to nurture several essential areas of our wellbeing.

Self-Care Wheel

It is not enough to put all our energies into our spirituality, or our intellect, or on exercising and looking beautiful.  Over-focusing on a few life areas, at the expense of others, creates a state of self-deficit, as I like to call it.

When we neglect areas of who we are, we set ourselves for gradual and accumulating frustration and feelings of emptiness.  To create balance, we need to make a conscientious effort to take care of our whole self.

How Are You Doing Now

Take a look at the circle or wheel below, and read through each self-area.  Ask yourself how well you’re doing within each of those areas.  For

example, in the area of sleep – how well do you sleep at night? Do you feel rested in the morning?  Are you sleeping enough?  Rate each area from 1 to 10, with 10 indicating the highest level of wellbeing in that area, and zero (0) indicating the lowest level of wellbeing currently being experienced.

Place a dot or an X at each number, for each area. Now, connect each dot or X by drawing a line across each area.

How Balanced Is Your Self-Care?

Take a look at the shape of your Self-Care Wheel.  If your shape is a small and constricted circle, (with mostly lower scores), this indicates poor self-care across several areas, and overall poor wellbeing.  What to do?  You’ll need to dig deep and seriously ask yourself what do you want for yourself? Why are you treating yourself this way? Reflect on what are some steps you can take, to begin the transformation.  One step at a time – easy does it.

A small shape with a one or a couple of peaks suggests that you’re over-focusing on specific areas of your life, at the expense of other equally important ones.

There are other possible shapes, indicating different situations and circumstances.  Ideally, you want your shape to be as circular and expanded as possible.

Finally, use this exercise to ask yourself how much time and effort you are willing to invest in those neglected areas.  Assess what’s getting in the way of you nurturing those other areas.  And, consider what new decisions and behaviors might lead you to a more balanced YOU.

Photo 1: Rob Lambert; 2: C. DelRio; Self-Care Wheel created by author

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Angélica Pérez-Litwin

Angélica Pérez-Litwin

Dr. Perez-Litwin is the Founder & CEO of ELLA Leadership Institute, a multi-platform professional development organization designed to advance the careers and leadership of women. She's the creative force behind the LATINAS THINK BIG™ national tour, sponsored and live-streamed by Google.

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  1. Wonderful article. I cannot wait to share with my girls!

  2. I love all your wheels! :)

    I have a tool box of great tools- adding your wheels now and putting them to use!

    • Angélica Pérez-Litwin Angélica Pérez-Litwin says:

      Vicky, please share your tool box! Let’s remember to talk about this in our meeting next week. You’re awesome mujer!

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