Did you know that February is Heart Month?
In the wake of Valentine’s day - a day of offering tokens of appreciation and love -
offer up some love for the most important person in your life: YOU!
Wellness care is an act of Self Love, and as a fitness, nutrition and wellness coach, this idea of loving and caring for one’s whole self is at the core of how I coach, and ultimately how I generate the energy and focus to live out my own dreams. It’s not about “doing”, although I find I get a lot more done when I make a habit of taking care of my mind, body, and spirit. It’s really about Being - about getting in touch with who you are, beyond all the things you do.
So often, I hear people say they don’t have time to take care of themselves, but eventually, self-care will become a priority. Growing up, I developed a disordered sense of guilt about doing something just for myself. With my mind in charge, I would pour all my energy into the people and projects I loved until I felt so out of balance my spirit would lose sight of why any of it mattered, and my body would get sick or injured. Even when I would refocus on taking care of myself, it was often out of fear of getting sick again, and I would feel guilty even for getting sick! I would only give myself the bare minimum of care and then I’d get right back to doing ‘all the things’.
Imagine if you only ever charged your cell phone battery from 1% to 10%. You’d be constantly having to stop what you are doing to charge it just enough to do just a little more. You would probably end up spending more time focusing on charging the battery than just doing what you want on your phone. It seems silly, but we often do this to ourselves, constantly putting ourselves behind the energy curve, because we don’t take the time to fully charge up.
Eventually, I recognized how this pattern of being ‘barely charged’ in my life made even the things I care about lose their power to inspire love and appreciation. I was doing everything out of that sense of obligation to ‘get stuff done’. Yuck.
I found this quote that I keep close to my heart to remind me to think of how I’m spending my energy:
"I’m tired of people romanticizing overexertion. Exhausted is not the new chic. Coffee (though a delicious necessity) is not a food group, and running on fumes is not admirable. Why do we hold pedestals for sleepless nights, breakdowns and inner turmoil? Are those things really to aspire to? Self Care, balance the ability to know when your body, mind, and spirit need to take a step back -Those are things we should admire. We have to stop blurring the line between ‘commitment’ and self-endangerment because too many people are burning out before they have a chance to truly shine."
After years of repeated illness and burnout, I finally started to take time each day to find ways to practice self-love as access to MORE energy. I created habits, one at a time, that were just for me and to appreciate them as ways to recharge my batteries all the way up - far before I reached 1%. What I found was that I started doing more of what I love. And with the things I didn’t necessarily love, I found meaning beyond the discomfort to be my true self while doing them.
Here is a short list of habits I have incorporated over the years to bring me back to loving myself:
· Doing yoga while cooking in the kitchen
· Taking a dance break while doing the laundry or cooking
· Going for a walk around the block instead of going for a cup of afternoon coffee
· Morning meditation (YouTube has a ton of guided meditations)
· Positive mental mantras while brushing my teeth
· Singing along to songs that make me feel deeply - and maybe even cry (as a lifelong musician, music truly is my first language - and crying is very cathartic for me)
· Doing daily mobility work for my achy joints and sore muscles - it’s like a massage!
· Calling or making a date with a friend or family member
· Calling in the professionals (my life coach, personal trainer, massage therapist, acupuncturist, etc.) when the job is bigger than I can take on myself.
Most of these are little things that I have taken on as I would a project at work. I focus on how it is connecting me back to my true self as a reflection of love.
Try slipping in little (or big) actions in your day that bring you back to being You. Take a moment to think about what excites you in your life. Then build a small habit of self-love that reminds you to be You. By investing in a mindset of appreciation and gratitude that is generated from within you and for you, you access the possibility to achieve more than you thought you could, and to ‘do all the things’ with more love and appreciation for everyone and everything around you.