Our culture today emphasizes that if you’re not busy, you’re lazy and unproductive. So, it’s a wonder why most people today strive to constantly do more with little to no regard for their own mental health and well-being. Success is rewarded. Failure is synonymous with laziness. Why would anyone think that slowing down and doing less would be a good thing?
Well, let me tell you why. When you slow down and take time for yourself, you recharge and have more to offer – after all, “you can’t pour from an empty cup.”
Women especially fall into this trap of running on all cylinders. We take care of everyone else and then if there’s any time left over (which there usually isn’t), we might do something for ourselves. The societal pressure to be “superwoman” often leads women to cope in unhealthy ways – drinking, smoking, using large amounts of caffeine to get through the day, overeating or under-eating, or just simply wallowing in self pity.
I fell into this trap of constantly trying to prove to everyone else that I had it all together – I could do it all – with a smile on my face! Outwardly, I was the picture of success – good job, big house, nice car, husband, kid – check, check, check. But inside, I was miserable. I was tired. I had no purpose. I was just running around checking boxes off my “to do” list. I took no time to “fill my own cup” — I didn’t even know what to fill it with!
I was always told that women “can’t have it all” and I almost believed this. You can’t be a successful career woman, wife, mom and be happy – something has to give. I’m here to tell you that’s a load of B.S. You can “have it all” — whatever “all” means to you — but it takes continuous work and self-care is a critical component. You have to find your own balance among your priorities.
The only way to start to do this, is to put yourself first – you have to be your #1 priority! If you are not operating at you best, you can’t give your best to the other people in your life that need you (your husband, kids, family, friends, etc.).
Now, I know this idea is completely counterintuitive to the way that most of us were raised. I’m sure you’re thinking that if I put myself first, doesn’t that make me selfish? No, It makes you smart.
For me, yoga opened the door to this whole “self care” idea. Taking 45-90 minutes a day to come to my mat, check in with myself and press pause on the chaos of life, allowed me to let go of the need to constantly be busy. The more I did this, the better I felt inside. I had an inner calm and clarity about what I needed to feel good and thrive. It really is amazing how your body will tell you exactly what it needs, you just have to shut up and listen to it (which is the hard part). You have to quiet your mind enough from the daily clutter to hear what your body is telling you! Yoga teaches you how to do this. And, for me, it has been the ultimate game changer in my life. This is why I decided to teach yoga, to share this amazing gift with others – the gift of pause – the gift of making yourself a priority.
10 Keys to Self Care:
- Take “me” time every day – start small – just 10 minutes a day can do wonders then work your way up to 30, 40 and (gasp) 60 minutes a day just for you! My daily “me” time is my yoga practice but yours can be anything that recharges and refuels your body and spirit.
- Practice speaking kindly to yourself when negative thoughts come up – our natural default is to the negative thoughts – we have to retrain our brain to turn those negative thoughts on their head and replace them with positive thoughts.
- Incorporate “breath checks” throughout your day when you feel stress or anxiety creep in – take 3 deep breaths and reset (this stops the mind spiral) — You can’t react rationally from a place of chaos.
- Nourish your body with quality foods – again, start small, cut out the processed foods and just notice how you feel – how’s your energy level, etc? – Don’t be obsessive — just smart — about what you fuel your body with.
- Practice gratitude – when you feel yourself failing into a “poor me” spiral, stop and list 3 things you are grateful for – and then smile and realize that whatever struggle you are currently facing isn’t really that bad in the grand scheme of things.
- Set boundaries with your time and energy – practice saying “no” to things and situations that don’t serve you and cause you undue stress – you’re not being “selfish,” you’re being smart by not overextending yourself.
- Embrace rest. When you are tired, simply take time to rest. And tell the negative thoughts that will inevitably come up – you know, the “stop being so lazy and get moving” thoughts to shove it!
- Ask for help when you need it. You don’t have to do everything yourself. You can delegate things off your plate to those that are capable of doing them. Why do you think CEOs are so successful? They delegate!
- Make connections with people (or animals). Real connections — like actually be present when you are with them. This is a lot harder than it sounds! Put away your phone, stop the mental to-do list and be in the present moment with another person (or people or animals). Enjoy the company of others — laugh, smile and relax.
- Accept that “it’s ok to not be ok” sometimes – as soon as you accept this fact, you can work the steps to make yourself “ok” again.