The topic of self-care keeps coming up with clients...and it's been increasingly important to my own journey over the past couple years. We're often conditioned (especially as women) to care for others, to put the needs of others before our own. We're taught that it's selfish to take time for ourselves or to consider our needs. The thing is, we all have needs. And not acknowledging them or asking for what we need can lead to anger, resentment, or depression (just to name a few). Typically we don't express these feelings and instead stuff them down, which over time can lead to dis-ease in the body.
Prior to moving down to San Diego, I was living in the Bay Area running a department at a university. It was a big job and they kept adding more and more into my department without any additional staff or support. I felt overworked, overlooked, undervalued...and a whole host of other emotions. I was commuting 2-3 hours a day. I was lucky if I exercised once a week. I was giving so much at my job that I felt empty and depleted when I got home.
I signed up for my trip to Peru in April 2017. Within a week I had injured my foot, requiring me to take a week off work. I wasn't able to go anywhere because I couldn't walk. I had to sit. Still. In my apartment. By myself. The Shaman I was working with at the time received guidance that I needed to stop running away. I needed to slow down. I needed to be present. They say that when you sign up for ceremony, it begins in that moment. My ceremony had begun and still continues to unfold.
Fast forward to a week post ceremony...after being in the Amazon jungle completely disconnected for two weeks and participating in eight Ayahuasca ceremonies (one in which I thought I died and was never coming back to this reality). When I walked back into my life, I knew deep in my heart I couldn't do it anymore. My job environment, the commute, lack of time outside, not exercising...it wasn't sustainable. I was burnt out. I left the job, left my apartment, my city, my home for 15 years.
Over the past year and a half, I've needed to reevaluate and reassess. While at the same time, resting and being conscious of how I'm spending my time and energy. When I first got here, I had three intentions: to sleep as much as my body needed, to exercise everyday, to spend time outside.
As I moved back into working with clients, I knew that I needed to have better self-care practices in place and I needed to have boundaries with myself around how much I was working. Before I would take on more and more and more. But then bitterness and resentment would creep in. Now I'm doing less because I'm consciously and intentionally structuring my time. And if I find myself bitter, it signals to me that I need to take responsibility for where I'm giving away too much or not showing up and standing in my power.
Self-care doesn't have to be about excessive and overindulgent spa days (although those are really nice). For me, it's daily practices that show me and others around me that I'm important. I take care of myself and as I do, I'm showing others how to treat me. My clients who are parents take care of themselves and they model that behavior to their children.
Let's all show a little more love to ourselves and fill our well, so that we can give to others from our abundance rather than our reserves.
If you need some inspiration, click here for a list of 50 Self-Care Strategies. I'd love to hear if you have more ideas. I'll keep adding to and updating the list over time. Now go do something nice for yourself!