Loving Myself Through Self-Care
Becoming a mom has brought me to my knees. It has turned me inside out, upside down and back again and at the same time has made me whole (and from what I hear, I ain’t seen nothing yet). I knew it would be hard work. I told myself I would commit to always balance a sense of self, nurture my relationship to my husband, build my yoga career, keep acting, dive into doula work, start Emaya while running a skincare business on the side and ooh yeah….also be a MOM. Somehow, I thought all of this was possible without losing my mind. Let me tell you, for 4.5 years I HAVE been doing all of this. Just writing all of this down now it is very easy to see: with these wild expectations there was very little time for anything else... especially for ME.
I teach my students and clients about self-care on a daily basis and I understand the concept! I'd spent a lot of time telling myself that I could do it all and that I was practicing self-care. I knew it was vital to living your best life and yet I wasn’t practicing what I was preaching. I was living with physical pain in my body, a new found problem with anxiety and a dash of depression. With all of this going on I still found myself pushing harder and not practicing self-care. When I complained that it all felt like too much, my husband would tell me to do something about it and I'd say: "I know what I’m doing...I’m a yoga teacher and wellness coach for goodness sake!" But the reality was staring at me in the face; I was lost.
It was time to practice what I preached and to devote time and energy towards taking care of me, so I did and I still do! I am so grateful that I took the time to examine self-care inside and out; what it means to me and what it looks and feels like when practiced.
What do you think about when you hear the word self-care?
Becoming a mom and finding no time for myself, I always made jokes that finishing my coffee in the morning quietly (yeah right) or locking myself in the bathroom for a quiet bath or shower ALONE (again, yeah right) was a great way to take care of myself. And in that moment, perhaps it was because I needed time to myself. Looking back, a stronger choice would have been: asking for HELP. Because I needed help with the shift in my universe. Now, I feel called to go deeper with my relationship to self-care and I have been thinking about it in a more holistic way. I’ve sat still, gotten quiet and envisioned who I am when I practice self-care consistently and how I can better nurture myself. Because the truth is, if I am taking care of me, I am feeling fulfilled and I can live the best version of myself and give more to those around me. I can be a force to be reckoned with and carry out my purpose! But not if my energy is low, self doubt is winning and my light is dim.
I've examined and found that a few check-in points keep me focused and accountable and I’d love to break it down for you.
How am I taking care of and LISTENING to my body today? Am I eating and nourishing my body? How am I healing any physical ailments? Am I exercising and sleeping enough? These are some questions I like to examine every day. I begin by listening to my body in meditation and in my yoga practice. I connect with my breath. This is a great place for me to start. If I can nourish my body, my instrument, then I am physically ready to take on my day!
I’ve never dealt with anxiety before. I believe I feel the highs and I feel the lows like we all do and until last year I thought I was managing just fine. But I found myself feeling cloudy, forgetful, and an unkind movie of thoughts played over and over in my mind. I poked fun at my distractible mind as a means to joke at the pain it was causing. Anxiety set in. So, how do we take care of our minds? There are so many ways to exercise our mind, keeping our thoughts constructive, and our patterns healthy. I believe we must keep the mind learning and sharp by reading, trying new things and becoming an endless beginner. Nourishing my body with healthy foods, meditating, exercising, avoiding overbooking, and prioritizing were key for me. Also, therapy has also been an enormous support for me by taking time to reflect, get honest, understand and LOVE myself.
Here we get into the emotional side of our self-care checklist. How is my heart feeling today? Satisfied? Lonely? Broken? Afraid? I find that wherever my emotional life is, circling around to love and forgiveness around my heart, helps me move through whatever I’m experiencing. Sometimes I need space to be with my heart and other times I need my family or my friends. Sometimes I need to sing and connect with my artist. Sometimes I need to be still and quiet and feel what my heart wants to feel. There are so many personal ways to tend to your emotional life or your heart connection!
This is one of my favorite explorations. Whether you head to church or to the mediation pillow, connection to your spirit or soul, your God or the Universe is so important, in my opinion. There is a Source bigger than us at work in our lives every single day. Connecting with this unconditional loving source is profound and plugs us in to feel alive and active in all her magic and wonder! Cultivating this connection reminds us that there is a greater plan for our lives than we could ever dream up or control...and we can find such surrender and peace in that knowing.
There are so many relationships in my life! I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, auntie, friend, and teacher. Am I giving attention to whom I want to be giving it? Where am I not nurturing relationships that are important to me and why? How is the relationship with myself? Am I able to receive love from others? What relationships are not serving me? Relationships are the magic of life and they require lots of TLC...it’s important to make sure we are nurturing the relationships that light us up and nurture us as well!
I believe that the work we do in the world matters in a huge way and is a direct line to the joy we do/do not experience in life. After all, culturally, work is where we spend most of our time! Whether it’s a job that aligns with your mission or simply pays the bills, it’s important to check in and make sure you are feeling fulfilled and clear. Career has been a challenge for me to define over the years. I tend to spread myself too thin and say yes to a lot of things in support of the many types of work I feel called to do in this lifetime. Michaela has helped me get clear on creating a specific vision for my career that aligns with my core values and a reminder that the vision happens with consistent effort over time...not all in one year!
These 6 check-in points for self-care have been a nice place to start as I examine how I take care of myself. If something is out of balance that is where I start! Maybe I need dinner with a close girl friend or I need to schedule a session with my therapist. Perhaps I need to dig deeper to hit a deadline instead of enjoying a date night (though date nights are VERY IMPORTANT to us). Some nights I need to go to bed earlier so I can honor my discipline to get up to mediate and nurture my soul!
In the end, I have truly believe that self-care is choosing to create a life that we want to jump out of bed to LIVE versus a life we need to constantly take a break from- which is where I found myself a few months ago. It is saying YES to ME and MY LIGHT. It is making sacrifices, working HARD towards creating solutions to the obstacles on my path! Sometimes we have to move through the muck or the darkest places in ourselves that feel unlovable and uncomfortable that we count as failure and say: I love myself and I got this!
Take care of you! There is only one you in all of time!