Every client I met with last week said (a variation) of the same thing:
"With everything that's going on in the world right now, taking care of myself feels low priority."
I get it. Things are really wild right now. We're all holding A LOT: a pandemic, an uprising. We're faced with our mortality while examining our thoughts, behaviors and actions that are either a solution to the problem or part of the problem. We're talking about hard stuff every day while trapped in our homes.
This is uncomfortable stuff.
It's also the stuff that changes the course of humanity. So keep doing the good work...AND let's get you back to caring for yourself while you're doing it.
I keep coming across the flight attendants' reminder from the beginning of every flight: put on your oxygen mask before trying to help someone else with theirs.
This idiom reminds us that before we can do any good for anyone else, we have to first do good for ourselves.
If you read nothing else on this page, read this: You are no good to any movement or cause or community or human, animal, or environment if you are not good to yourself.
How you care for yourself right now might differ from how you cared for yourself before the pandemic hit the US. It might differ from how you cared for yourself before George Floyd's murder. The self-care you need now might be totally and completely new to you.
Have you taken the invitation to explore that and make a self-care plan that's just for you in this specific moment in your life?
Shelly Tygielski (@mindfulskatergirl) has authored a number of articles on this topic for Mindful.org related specifically to self-care during the pandemic. She gives 3 good reasons why taking time to do some internal inventory and create a plan for caring for yourself is not just important but critical. I think these are especially important for those of us who are activated by recent events in Minneapolis and the movement they sparked in our nation and world.
Here are Tygielski's reasons to make a personalized Self-Care Plan:
Now that you know you need a Self-Care Plan, follow this link to get Tygielski's directions on creating one for yourself or download this worksheet I made adapting her recommendations to a visual form.
Time for true confessions: this is hard for me too. My stress response is to freeze. I have felt frozen in anxiety and fear for months now. I try to care for myself by eating regularly, exercising and meditating, but I'll go days - or even weeks - without any real success in that department. I'm more successful with my favorite dissociation techniques.
I followed Tygielski's prompts to come up with my own self-care plan. Here are some activities I'm working on in my Self-Care Plan right now:
As you're working on your own Self-Care Plan, notice any resistance you have to giving to yourself. Here are some wise words from Rachel Elizabeth Cargle (@rachel.cargle) that helped me put this in perspective for myself this week:
"...Meditate AND call your senator.
Go to yoga AND go vote.
Breathe deeply AND donate to causes that matter.
Go on a retreat AND go support small businesses.
Enjoy your essential oils AND check people on their bullshit in the community."
"If love could speak to you about food it would say, ‘Eat when you are hungry, sweetheart, because if you don’t, you won’t enjoy the taste of food. And why should you do anything you don’t enjoy?’
I’ll be the first to admit that I enjoy foods that are “bad” for me. I put “bad” in quotation marks, because even foods that don’t provide nutritional sustenance can be good for your soul. Joy is nourishing too!
Here are 5 simple suggestions to help you enjoy your guilty pleasures without the guilt:
What would you add to this list? Share in the comments below!
That's a pretty big claim, eh?! But it's true. When you get a positive and healthy start to your day everything changes. Not only do these suggestions spark whole body wellness, but they help you get grounded in your body so that your obligations (like work...) feel easier, lighter, and more flexible. So take it from me: it's revolutionary!
1. Before you do anything else, drink a glass of water when you wake up.
As you sleep, you lose water through your skin, breath, and the production of urine. This means that when you wake, you are dehydrated. And what is usually the first thing you do? Drink coffee. Which is also dehydrating. Now, I'm not about to tell you to quit drinking coffee, but to hold off until you've downed 16 oz. of water first. Make replenishing your body's water your first priority.
Added bonus: Squeeze the juice of half a lemon or add 1-2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar to your cup to bolster digestion and support detoxification. It's delicious too!
2. Move your body.
Dedicate 20 minutes or more every morning to wake your body up and excite your metabolism. Go for a walk, bike ride, or swim, or roll out your yoga mat for a few Sun Salutations. You may find that getting physical activity in the morning is better than that cup of coffee at energizing you for the day.
3. Eat a balanced breakfast.
Americans are too accustomed to eating sugary breakfast cereals to start their day. Even "healthy" cereals like granola can have several grams of sugar per serving which start us on a blood sugar roller coaster we can't get off of the rest of the day. Replace cereal or toast with something higher in protein and fat. Scramble a couple free-range eggs with spinach and chives or make this delicious granola to eat with whole fat yogurt or almond milk.
Not much of a breakfast person? Find something that sits well with you to eat within the first hour or two of waking. A handful of walnuts is better than nothing.
That's all it takes to start your day feeling great. Try it out and let me know how it goes on Facebook or Instagram.
Now, get out there and make morning time look good on you!
I love food.
I love thinking about it, talking about it, writing about it. I love growing food, cooking and eating food. I use this space to try to convey that. Follow me on social media for more day-to-day inspiration on these topics.