Redefining Self-care: 6 Essential Practices
I can’t believe it’s December … 2020 has been a helluva ride for most of us.
Celebrating the resiliency of the human spirit and mourning the incredible amount of loss we all have experienced over this last year …
I am aware that I have been very fortunate in surfing the waves of this unprecedented time, although also my family has been impacted in dramatic and life-altering ways, like many of yours.
For me personally, the daily conscious practice of letting go of expectations and surrendering to what is and trusting that all is well has been key to my sanity.
Even if that may sound ‘easy’, surrendering is an art and definitely not a walk in the park. Every time I felt space to create something magic or dive into a new project, another lockdown threw a spanner in those plans.
Self-care has been key to my ability to surrender.
Taking Full Responsibility for your WELL-BEING and CAPACITY
Self-care is our responsibility.
It means taking response-ability for your well-being and capacity.
Including a generous dosage of self-compassion 😉
At all times.
For yourself and everyone around you.
Our well-being directly impacts those around us, especially our children.
More than ever before I learned last year that self-care is a necessity instead of a luxury.
I am chuckling now as I recall how a therapist a few years ago kept pounding into me the importance of taking time for self-care. I responded by nodding politely and saying something like “Yeah, that makes total sense”.
I recall more how I felt internally … seething … and thinking “you have no f***ing idea about my life, or you wouldn’t suggest such a %*^@# idea”.
Raising two little ones mostly on my own, doing two studies at the same time while starting my own practice and seeing clients. Self-care always felt like yet another chore on my endless to-do list that I didn’t quite get to.
WHERE ON EARTH WAS I SUPPOSED TO FIND THAT EXTRA TIME ???
This past year has taught me that self-care does not necessarily mean I do something differently.
Self-caring and Gardening: Nurturing your Inner Landscape
I have learned that self-care is a way of being: A state of self-caring.
A way of being where caring about myself is part of the equation. A state of receiving even if only by shifting my focus on the speckles of beauty that I am surrounded with and soaking it all up … savouring …
This may sound simple again, but in reality, really challenging as so many of us have learned to equate self-care with being selfish!
I love stories, so let me make an analogy with gardening ☺:
Just like a gardener nurtures a garden, self-care is nurturing your inner landscape.
Knowing that when you give yourself permission to care about yourself, you give others around you that same permission. We are all part of a larger eco-system so this is how it works:
When the garden of my life thrives, so will wholesome nourishing seeds ripple out to everyone around me.
Nurturing your inner landscape also includes awareness of weeds.
Weeds in your inner garden that may create a chronic physical and emotional stress response may include a host of internal and external stressors such as ongoing anxiety, suppressed emotions, unresolved issues, low nutrient-dense foods, lack of sleep and rest, environmental pollutants and toxicity, disconnection from nature, ourselves and others, financial stress, etc.
Symptoms of weed overgrowth may include an ongoing sense of chronic stress or overwhelm, a variety of body aches, high reactivity, sleep issues, inflammation flare-ups, numbing out, etc.
Just like a gardener can’t simply wave a magic wand to create a gorgeously fragrant and colourful garden, it takes conscious and intentional effort to tend to the garden of your own life.
It takes a PAUSE … to observe the soil of your inner garden with kindness and compassion. Often this means taking an honest look at what we are inviting or tolerating that is no longer serving us and re-direct our energy to what is nourishing our soul and inviting or creating beauty in our lives.
Selfcare may mean pulling some weeds to make space for flowers to grow and flourish.
How do you know your inner garden needs attention?
Even though I have maintained healthy lifestyle practices for many years now my garden too can get filled up with weeds as a result of all the shifts and turmoil, and as an empath, I have to be very conscious of the energy I absorb.
In my life, general fatigue and decrease in energy, body aches creeping in, or getting reactive are signs that my inner landscape needs tending to with loving attention. These are signs of misalignment.
I am deeply committed to scanning my life on an ongoing basis and tend to the garden of my own life as a loving and caring gardener. This is for me the only way I can continue to be present and experience the ebbs and flows of life with joy and equanimity.
6 Essential small self-care practices that help nurture your inner landscape
- Weed out social media for designated windows of time as feel good for you (I always turn off notifications of social media in the evenings, sometimes a day in the weekend, sometimes for days)
- Get into the discipline to stop and scan your body, mind and soul on an ongoing basis and do subtle things to move back into presence versus pushing through as that’s what we are used to!!! This is paramount to shut down our inner biological stress response, even if you may not be aware of it. Notice if shame or guilt enter your space and be curious about their narrative instead of following their beckoning you back to work.
- Breathe consciously and tune into your body frequently throughout the day. If you have time to scroll social media, you have time to practice conscious breathing. No excuse.
- Spend time outdoors, if possible, every day, even if it’s just for a 10 min walk and BREATHE fresh air. There is simply nothing more restorative in my mind other than being reminded of this stillness that is always waiting for you to be heard.
- Be aware of vampire weeds: notice everything that creates a stress response and pull those ‘weeds’. This goes from setting healthy boundaries with people who might be draining your energy, to your own thoughts, or even nutrition.
- Be hyper-aware of the beauty around you, or you want to invite more of: focus on what fills your heart with joy, what excites you when waking up in the morning and what nourishes your soul. I focus consciously on the vibration of gratitude and blessings, big and small. From the voice of my children humming a song as they are preparing for their school’s Christmas show next week to the delight of dressing myself in warm PJs fresh from the dryer to witnessing shifts with my clients.
I know that everyone can learn to become a loving gardener for their own inner landscape and where seeds of peace and joy grow, ease will flow.
I hope this article has given you some seeds for thought. I would love to know what resonates with you!
Before you move on in life, I have a few questions for you to ponder about ☺
What practices do you do to create space?
What beauty do you desire to invite or create in your life?
With Love, from my heart to yours,