"It is not selfish to refill your own cup, so that you can pour into others. It’s not just a luxury. It is essential.”
This week’s blog post is about self-care, self-love, and 10 brilliant things you can do to increase this in your life. As a mother of two, and a yoga teacher who’s whole ethos is about trying to counter the effects of modern life (the busyness, the stress, the multi-tasking, the always doing) through yoga, I think about think about self-care….a lot. It's the reason I started my "Slow Sundays" monthly workshops, and my new weekly "Self-care Sunday" online live yoga video (more about that later in the post). We do so much to care for the ones we love, our children, family, friends, our wider community. We offer warm embraces, patience, and understanding. We give our energy, our time and our love out freely. We cook nourishing meals, give gifts, and express gratitude. But do we do the same for ourselves? Do we put in the same amount as we give out? Do we take time to recharge, to give back to ourselves?
The answer is usually no. And why not? Often because it feels indulgent and selfish to spend a bit of time on ourselves, and we tend to feel guilty. We could be doing other ‘useful’ things instead, and so our own self-care just doesn’t make it onto our to-do list (or get pushed right down to the bottom, staring at us, and making up feel even worse for never getting around to it). We all do it, I am as guilty as anyone. But it is so important to think about what you need on a daily basis to feel whole, centred and balanced. Only when we are at our best, can we truly give our best to others.
So here’s a challenge – think about ways in which you give and share your energy, and the ways you can give it back to yourself. How you can best recharging yourself from inside, and so better enabling you to give back to the people and things you love most in life. How can acts of self-care improve your quality of life which in turns improves the communities and others that you impact?
Here are 10 ideas of how to create some small acts of self-care in your life. Remember, it’s find what works for YOU and really listening to what you need (not what you think you should do or how you should feel). It could be eating nourishing food, sleeping enough, having supportive friendships and a community, managing stress, exercising, simple things that make you feel “good”.
1. Do something every day that brings you joy.
What would that be like? It could be something as audacious as going to a spa for 2 hours, or it can be a beautiful simple activity like making and enjoying a hot cup of tea, taking a 10 minute walk outside, eating your lunch from a proper plate and without looking at your phone, curling up with a book, journalling, using a delicious body oil after your shower, phoning and chatting with a friend. So come up with a list of things you absolutely LOVE to do, and each day do one.
2. Be mindful
Be the watcher and the observer of your thoughts and actions throughout the day. Continually be mindful by checking in with yourself - my favourite way to do this is simply watching my breath. Whenever I feel my breath get short, shallow, and in my chest I immediately know I’m tense/stressed/or simply not being mindful. So practice this breathing technique throughout the day, whenever you feel tense or notice you’re breathing only shallow breaths from your chest take a round of 10 deep belly breaths and feel the difference physically and mentally.
3. Set boundaries
Boundaries come in the form of so many things. They can be physical boundaries with certain people, places, situations that leave you feeling uneasy. It can also be setting boundaries from work/personal time. A questions you could ask yourself is “how do I feel after I’m around this person – what is the aftertaste?”. If you find that a person or situation doesn’t sit well with you, then don’t make an effort to engage in that relationship again. Think of other ways you can set boundaries with your energy and who you choose to be in your life.
4. Make compromises, but never compromise your joy
Life is about compromises and make compromises but never compromise your joy– joy as your innate needs and wants at your core. Only you know your core beliefs and values, stand up for what you need in relationships, with your life, with your work, etc. and you’ll feel strong and empowered. So make a list of what things are non-negotiable for you to experience joy, always remember them and never compromise.
5. Cultivate your routine or rituals
This goes hand in hand with setting your boundaries and not compromising your joy– what routines or rituals can you develop and stick to that’ll help you feel loved, centered, and rooted? For example a night time routine where you make a relaxing hot drink and read in bed for 20 minutes before going to sleep - it’s a very small thing, it doesn’t cost anything, but it’s something that is done completely for yourself. So why not make a list of things you can incorporate into your routine to keep you on track.
6. Pay attention to yourself, take some time ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’
This could be through a yoga or meditation practice. Find a regular practice where you can slow down and really connect back in with ourselves, taking some time to sense what your body and mind need. Turn off that always on, always doing – even for just 10 minutes can be so beneficial.
7. Create some time for things you enjoy doing, your interests and hobbies.
It can be easy for these things to fall by the wayside. But doing things that you love, going back to a long lost interest that brings you joy can be so important. Or trying out something completely new, something that you have always wanted to try. You CAN make time for it, you just have to prioritise a little bit of time for yourself.
8. Community and your tribe
Hang out with people who “get” you, who can respect your boundaries, your wishes, you personality and ultimately think about that ‘aftertaste’ I mentioned earlier! Are your relationships, community involvement, and friends, people you want in your tribe? Is there a mutual energy exchange? Do you challenge each other for growth or do you feel completely wiped out after being with them/this community? Ask yourself these questions as a way to cultivate an environment of self-love.
9. Let go
Let go of emotional baggage, of people, places, of judging yourself, of life situations that no longer serve you at your core. It’s a challenging road to initially take, but so worth it. From an internal standpoint, what can you let go of? Behaviours, ideologies, pressure, comparison, the list can go on and on. Have that conversation with yourself and pinpoint those areas you can let go.
10. Live with intention and with a greater purpose
As I’ve said, self-care is not selfish - there’s a huge distinction between the two. Loving and caring for yourself means that you’re able to be present for others in your life and on a bigger scale, the world. I know it seems a bit massive when you think “how can I have that much impact on the world?”– you can and you do. Collectively if we all start to shift into practice self-care and self-love, the more love, care, and compassion we can share to others and the cycle continues– a beautiful cycle! So think of the ways you can live with more intention to serve a greater purpose.
If you need a jump start with adding some self-care to your life, then join me for each week online for my ‘Self Care Sunday’ Facebook live yoga videos - at 2pm on Sunday afternoons. It’s just 15 minutes out of your week for a little bit of yoga ‘me-time’, a little space to reconnect with yourself. And if you can’t join me live, then you can replay the videos later at a time to suit you. Join me on my Facebook page here - www.facebook.com/yogaformodernlife