In order to heal others, we must heal ourselves. ~Thich Nat Hanh
Why is self care important?
As the saying goes, an empty well cannot give water. When you show up day after day to take care of and support others, it becomes imperative that you plan ways to give that same care and support back to yourself.
Unfortunately in our culture, especially our work environments, have often place a higher importance on success and productivity to the point the we are deemed “selfish” if we even consider our own well-being in the equation.
It’s common sense that we can’t take care of others as well when we are not feeling our best. That is especially true for our work when our position requires that we are caring for others. Yet we are often expected to “pull up our boot straps” and suffer through as a sign of strength, showing up even when we feel depleted, burnt out, and tired. What are we to do when we have bills to pay and staying home or slowing down doesn’t seem like an option? How can we make space when the work load never seems to end? What about the quotas to meet and the calls that never stop coming in? Who can blame us for not feeling like we have any energy left for self-care when we are mentally and physically exhausted at the end of the day?
While we use all of these as excuses to not take care of ourselves, this is exactly why committing to self care on a daily basis is essential. It creates balance between our work and personal lives. If we don’t, we risk burning out, losing energy and stamina to show up for our calling, and even manifesting illness so our body/mind/spirit can finally catch a break.
Ideas for self care:
1. Schedule self care in just like you would a meeting at work.
A practice I encourage my clients to implement is taking a moment before the start of your week to literally schedule in time for yourself. Though it can sometimes feel counterintuitive to “schedule” in time to enjoy your life, that is often the only way we will start to make time for it, especially at first. As with any new habit, it requires repetition and commitment to gain traction as a regular part of our lives.
Find the little openings you have in your day and write in that yoga class you’ve been wanting to try. Schedule in a walk on your lunch time or a dinner with the friend who lets you vent and makes you laugh. Schedule in time to research that counselor you’ve been thinking about talking to. Buy that ticket to see that inspiring artist you’ve been wanting to see live. Plan out your meals, grocery shopping trips, and cooking nights for the week so you know you have healthy food to nourish you. You get the point – JUST DO IT (Nike really scored with that slogan!) and you’re more likely to do it if you put in on the schedule or better yet pay for it in advance.
2. Start with self care acts that are small & attainable.
So often we want to change everything all at once. In doing so we set ourselves up to fail when we try to take on more than can be accomplished in the time we have available. When you create your weekly self care schedule, be sure that what you are scheduling in will in no way add stress or a sense of busyness to your day. You will be amazed at the difference you will feel by simply committing to and practicing 1 to 2 self care practices every day. When we feel good we are naturally motivated to keep feeling good. Let your self care build its own momentum as you feel the sweetness of having created this space for yourself, no matter how small.
3. Take notice of what feels good to you.
Start to create a master list of all the things that bring you joy, starting with the most small. This way, in a busy moment of life you don’t have to think about what you might do for yourself. You simply pull out your handy list and pick one doable thing for yourself that day.
Examples from my list:
- Waking up with a good amount of time before work. I have time to move slowly and savor my hot cup of coffee while watching the birds out my window.
- Being outside in my garden with the plants and birds.
- Lingering in bed on a rainy morning to read.
- Making time to go to my favorite coffee shop before work and taking 15 minutes to read something inspiring.
- A hot salt bath in the morning time.
- Getting a new cookbook in the mail and dog earing recipes I can’t wait to make.
- A walk around the block to savor the current season and my local environment.
- Eating pho for lunch with my partner.
- Scheduling dinner with a dear friend who gets me.
- Dreaming up my next weekend getaway and putting it on the calendar.
- Going to a yoga class.
4. Practice vulnerability by asking for help when you need it! Utilize the power of your support network.
We caregivers tend to have a difficult time allowing ourselves to receive or ask for help when we need it. Those who counsel others often get tremendous relief and insight when they have a coach or therapist. The idea is to give yourself the same energy you give out. Think about the spaces you provide for people in your work. If it’s a listening compassionate ear, get yourself a listening compassionate ear. If it’s physical healing, schedule yourself physical healing. Get back energy similar to what you give out.
Start to practice vulnerability. Talk to trusted friends, family, and co-workers about the new space you are creating in your life. Motivation is often easier to come by when you have a partner that has similar goals to you. They will hold you accountable and help you stay the course on the days when you want to quit or talk yourself out of that walk at lunchtime or that yoga class you planned to go to. This will require that you reach out and are vulnerable and honest about your needs to the people you trust!
As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear. Our presence automatically liberates others.~Marianne Williamson
Guest post by Sara Rose. Sara is a massage therapist, yoga teacher, doula, and community herbalist. Over the last 14 years as a healer, Sara has been honored to work with many wise hearts – shamans, massage therapists, energy healers, herbalists, elders, acupuncturists, doctors, doulas, visionaries, seers, and average humans who are bravely letting life IN, even when it’s not easy or pretty. You can find out more about Sara on her website, Yoga Nature.
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