Real Life Self-Care
Recently I was interviewed about my take on self-care. What it means to me. Why it matters. How I actually incorporate it into my day. You may be surprised by some of my reflections -- the interviewer certainly was. I don't believe caring for yourself and taking an interest in your well-being has to be extravagant, expensive, or even time-intensive. I do believe, however, it's a non-negotiable.
But self-care can be a quick and easy process of coming home to yourself. And it can be done at work, on a walk, or even in traffic. May these musings inspire you to take it easy and take good care.
What does "self-care" mean to you and why do you think it's so important?
Self-care, for me, is synonymous with self-worth, or valuing yourself enough to show it through prioritized action. Sometimes the phrase "self-care" can sound a little frilly and optional - like, who has time for a 75 minute bath with essential oils and sustainably harvested epsom-salts? And while that can be a self-care practice for you (and luxurious baths certainly are lovely), the true essence of this practice is non-optional.
Self-care is essential in our highly highly pressurized world. It means showing up for yourself first and recognizing that if you don't take care of your body/mind/spirit you'll lose it. So many of my clients take themselves for granted. They think, "Oh, I'll always be healthy, and young, and strong enough to weather and balance the thousands of to-dos." And unfortunately that's not the case, instead, we must think about it in reverse -- you fill yourself up first in order to be amazingly helpful, strong, and successful in the "real world." It's taken me years to realize, when I do that inner work, and value myself through whatever method of self-care is recharging me, the outer world values me as well. It really is that simple.
What are some ways a newbie to the concept can get started on self-care? What are some first steps to take, new habits to incorporate, etc. (especially when you feel like you don't have the time/don't even know what would relax you)?
I'll share three quick and powerful options that have worked wonders for me and my clients:
First, never underestimate the power of a 3 minute Savasana in the middle of your living room or bedroom floor. For those unfamiliar with the term, it's "corpse pose" in yoga, the final resting pose of a class where you literally just lay on your back and rest. It's as easy as it sounds. Turn your phone on airplane mode, set a timer for 3 minutes, and whether it's the early morning, or after work, give yourself permission to rest. It's an unbelievably rejuvenating practice and 3 minutes really works!
Second, I always recommend people journal in some capacity. We live in a world that values movement and action far more than slow, thoughtful reflection. So we must reinforce the importance of pause and appreciation in our own lives before it's extinct. The best and quickest way to do this? Start a gratitude journal. I often advise my clients to start small. Super small. For example, every AM (or PM) while brushing your teeth, jot down 3 things you're grateful for. They can be anything at all. And for those who struggle staying positive, remember, if you are breathing, there's more going right with you than wrong. Eventually, this practice shifts your mindset to a much more positive place, a self-care habit that is transformational.
Lastly, as a meditation teacher and yogi, I cannot skip the mindful practice of breathing. Taking a few deep breaths is absolutely a game changer in the world of self-care. Much like the difficulty in pausing and reflecting in modern life, so many of us are shallow breathers and don't realize we're not accessing or connecting to our bodies throughout the day through this powerful mechanism of breath. One of the best practices to take care of yourself and your body is to simply deepen your breath, pause, and feel it. You can breathe deeply for 3 minutes on your commute. You can pause to feel the expansion and contraction of a deep breath 10 times in bed before going to sleep. In yoga, the breath is considered your life force and when you reconnect with the breath, you reconnect with that inner power. It's a wonderful practice to take care of yourself on all levels.