I’m teaching Self Care 101 at The Alchemist’s Kitchen at Stockton Market on Saturday December 1st, 2018. Workshop starts at 11am and will run for 1.5 hours. Tickets are $25. I hope you join me. It would be great to see you in person!
Now down to business. Self care is pretty popular these days. Whether you’ve just added self care to your to do list, are deeply committed to your self care practice or have never heard of self care this post is sort of an outline of my self care 101 workshop and is bound to give you some juicy new inspiration and understanding of what self care can look and feel like in your life.
We have plenty to do in our lives, we live busy, distracted, exhausting days that blend into weeks and months, years and decades. Often it can feel as if life is living us rather than the other way around. Enter self care. Self care is our understanding, awareness & commitment to ourselves. It is a practice that holds us accountable for our actions and how we treat our selves in the hustle and bustle of our daily experience. Self care is not the same for any two people. Inherent in the concept is that it is defined by your individual needs.
So what are your individual needs?
Common examples of self care displayed in social media and our society at large are often spa related and involve chunks of time and money. Drawing a bath is a great way to relax but it is quite unrealistic for a lot of people, or downright disgusting to others. Self care is not about creating more things on a to do list or spending money. It is about supporting yourself against burn out. It is about making sure you have what you need through out your day so that you don’t feel like a wet towel at bed time. It is about feeling at home in your life and your body.
So how do you self care if you don’t have $120 to spend on a massage?
Intuition. You are an intuitive being. You are your own magic.
There is merit in the saying ‘trust your gut’. That feeling we get in our gut that can guide us towards or away from something, is very powerful. We want to nourish that sensation of inner knowing. Start by listening to yourself, your body, the teeny tiny voice inside that whispers your deepest truth. This listening is process, it is something we continously teach ourselves. It is like a muscle, the more we use it the stronger it gets.
Asking ourselves questions to further understand our lived physical and emotional experiences can illuminate what we need to thrive. When I am trying to define something I like to start by brainstorming what it is not. Whether it is your practice of self care or your lived experience understanding what it isn’t can often teach us what we want it to be.
By examining where we experience frustration, devastation, grief, pain, & resistance we gain information about what it is we need, what is lacking in our life. Knowing what we are ignoring or not focusing on is important for understanding where we need to shift our attention and energy. This does not have to look any certain way. This is completely up to you. It is about the support you need and then figuring out how to get it. Whether it be asking for help, or holding yourself accountable, self care looks any way that feels good and helps you feel more you. This can be applied on both the micro and macro scales.
On the micro scale it can look like getting out of bed or staying in bed despite severe anxiety. Its putting one foot in front of the other towards your next task. On the macro scale it’s living your biggest and best in the world without apology.
We don’t know what we need till we listen. We develop our ability to listen by feeling our bodies in space, in movement, in energy levels. There is information in the way we taste and smell, what we crave, what we avoid and how we sleep. Getting into our bodies provides us with a wealth of information.
Feelings as information:
When we can observe our emotions without judgement, we begin to recognize patterns of behavior. These patterns tell us what we crave in our relationships, with our selves and others. They tell us if we get in our own way, if we walk blindly, or create boundaries we’re not willing to enforce. Maybe we eat our way through our emotions or perhaps we get high to hide our emotions, or maybe we drink our emotions. We do not need to assign morality to these patterns. They have no baring on our worth. Our worth is inherent in our existence.
Our behavior patterns are just raw data. This does not diminish the lived experience it is simply a way of creating space from the experience so it is not consuming, or triggering. The space created by this remove helps eliminate the shame and guilt we feel. By working to remove our moral judgements against ourselves, we begin to trust ourselves, to trust our intuition. Our smallest success’ support and reinforce our understanding and trust of our intuition.
Self care is setting ourselves up for those littlest of success’ however mundane they may be.
The more we give ourselves positive reinforcement, in the form of mundane supportive success’, the stronger our trust will grow in our intuition and therefore our intuition begins to grow and become stronger, leading us closer to our biggest and best lives lived with out apology.
So when developing our self care practices we can apply this process on both the micro and macro levels. For instance I just travelled to my in-laws. Previously I have had a hard time staying gluten free when I visit them. There are not a lot of food choices in their rural West Virginia town. But this past visit I planned and prepared a bag of gluten free options for myself. I asked my partner to support me in staying away from gluten loaded options. She was very helpful and having the food I needed to feel good made the trip so much more enjoyable.
That is self care. Supporting yourself to feel good in your lived experience.
On a macro level it can be applied to nourishing yourself so you have strength and capacity for the collective. Whether supporting a partner, raising a family, building an empire, hosting refugees, marching in protest, or breathing deeply, providing your own care in simple and tender ways is foundational for your calling.
I have introduced you to the idea that self care is setting ourselves up for mundane success. You may be saying that’s all well and good but wtf? How do I figure out what my self care actually feels like? What do I need to be doing every day?
I shared the example of me planning and preparing myself to be gluten free at my in laws. It is as simple and mundane as that. What is the easiest way you can support yourself?
Often it is getting a bit more rest, holding deeper connections, more focused concentration. Because we feel better when we have a bit more room in our lives to breath. To hug ourselves, to eat by candle light instead of in the car. These small tasks, that can seem monumental to shift, give us space to live our lives rather than have our lives live us. And the littlest bit of planning and preparations can go a long way.
For the longest time I have called self care a strategy. People have asked me if that was the word I wanted to use, since it has connotations of conflict, marketing, business and war, but I think that being strategic is about being aware. It is acting with informed intent. It realizing goals and making steps towards them, however small or mighty they may feel. So in recognizing our behavior patterns and spheres of our lives we neglect or ignore we can start to see where we need to support ourselves avoid burn out and unhappiness. If we are always waking up exhausted and which leaves us grumpy with co workers in the morning. Perhaps planning bedtime routine you can stick to would help your relationship with your team mates. Recognizing cause and effect can go a long way. If you have terrible indigestion in the afternoon that keeps you from concentrating on your client meetings, perhaps packing a lunch that sustains your brain and your belly enjoys. Does that mean going to the grocery store? Does that mean learning what foods make you feel good and what foods make you feel gassy and bloated, or tired and cranky?
These questions about your mundane routine are very micro applications to our self care. But often the most accessible solutions are the ones that completely evade us. The more we support our selves to live out our biggest and best expression of ourselves the more we are able to achieve. Because when we live without apology or self deprecation that is when we get to realize our truest expression of self, which is when you are the best for you and yours.
So meditating while your doing the dishes, is the first step to enlightenment. It doesn’t have to be 90 minute yoga classes 16x a week. It has to be the thing that you do. The thing right now that will help you feel better when your head its the pillow tonight. How can you take care of your self?