Do We Need Self Care?
I have recently been thinking and reading a lot about Self Care and unconditional love towards ourselves. As a massage therapist and yoga instructor I certainly have struggled with this topic, as I know I must walk the talk in order to teach it. So, I often have asked the questions; How do we love ourselves? How can we give to ourselves through out the day, everyday and still give to our spouses, children and jobs? Further, what if I don’t have a bath tub to take a hot candle lit bubble bath or a budget for a destination spa or even a pedicure? Perhaps you remember the famous 1980’s commercial: “Calgon take me away!”?
Lets explore this topic and get real on how we can set fourth on loving and caring for ourselves by overcoming old thinking habits of what self care really is so we can stay in balance mind, body and spirit and learn how to do this from within instead of through external habits or excuses.
Take Action For Yourself
The first step I found, along with my husbands support, was to learn how to say the word ‘NO’ and decipher how my time was spent pleasing others out of a sense of obligation as opposed to giving out of love. Secondly, implementing self-care times into my schedule by scheduling breaks. Thirdly, to list or just ponder the things that make me feel happy and ‘hurdle’ my excuse mechanism and do it! In order to make any of these practices a reality, it is extremely helpful to build an understanding support network that understands self care does not mean you are being selfish, but wise.
Schedule, plan and ‘firewall’ your breaks and time off. There are countless studies that show that taking breaks, resting or meditating promote a more productive and a happier rested you. Further, this old myth of ‘working until you drop’ will only make you sick, tired and unhappy. I think working practices in our country has proved this already, so I will not diverge into other examples.
You will never finish all you have to do on your list because the list will never end, so you might as well take a deep breath and take breaks. In order to do this you must, must, must schedule them into your morning, afternoon or evening. These can be as short as 10 minutes to several hours of doing something nice for yourself. If possible, turn the sound of your phone off or forward your phone calls to someone who can take messages or reach you in case of emergency.
What is Right For You?
What do you do on your break? Do what makes you feel happy, rested and feeling balanced. If you are tired you need to restore: take a nap, lie down, take a relaxing restorative yoga class, just sit, stretch your neck, breath and relax your shoulders, put your legs up and breath etc. Take into account why you are tired as well. Is it sleep or lethargy from diet or a difficult time in your life? In that case do something that can uplift your mood. There are many yoga poses that can help relieve depression and tiredness. For example, legs up the wall, any sort of restorative or active back bend or inversion pose. Ask your yoga teacher or look online. Other uplifters can be through diet and exercise. Eat something whole and alive like fruit or vegetables. Or perhaps you have not had protein. Eat the kind of protein your body needs, whether it be tofu, meat fish or vegetables. Maybe a piece of dark chocolate. Go for a walk, look at birds and feel the breeze. See a movie, read a book, write, talk with a friend…..when in doubt just sit still with yourself and practice breathing fully and deeply.
The list of ‘break time’ feel good activities is endless and extremely personable. Just because your best friend or the latest ‘wellness trend’ says to eat this or do that does not mean it’s right for you. Drop the guilt and judgment and do what’s right for you. This is love. If you enjoy a favorite hobby or magazine, like to watch lizards in the garden or have a glass of wine and it makes you happy and it is done responsibly and healthily then do it! I like the 80/20 rule. I am 80 percent full-on healthy with 20 percent wiggle room for those french fries or a lie in till noon day. Just do not judge it if your body, mind and emotional being needs it.
Be A Courageous Warrior
Finally, stop complaining that you do not have time and do it. Stop playing victim and stop dramatizing about things that stress you out. Stop being unkind and criticizing yourself and learn to listen to your body and your heart, not your mind or ego telling you you do not have time or that you must do something your heart is not into. Remember, you are in charge now!! Be courageous. Stop feeling guilty, listen to your own advice, sit yourself down and look yourself in the eye and be truthful and listen to your heart. The next time you habitually ‘get busy’ or say ‘yes’ when you mean ‘no’- take a moment to stop, take three breaths and ask yourself what it is you really, really want or need to feel balanced. I cannot tell you how many countless times I have laid my hands on clients that simply hurt themselves repeatedly by pushing themselves physically, emotionally and mentally, and this also includes myself. Perhaps, it’s time to ask ourselves these questions of why we do harm to ourselves or work out of fear? Again, just sitting and being with yourself without a ‘distraction buffer’ will help answer these questions. The ‘Warrior’ within us is not afraid of space.
Spread Your Love
Take time to do nice things to love yourself with self care. To ignore your own needs can be detrimental to your health and general well being and also that of your loved ones. If you do not take care, they will suffer as you suffer. If you are happy, they will feel the love as you emanate love.