No Time for Selfcare
Self-care is a very active and powerful choice to engage in the activities that are required to gain or maintain an optimal level of overall health. Overall health includes not just the physical, but the psychological, emotional, social, and spiritual components of an individual’s well-being. Institute of Medicine
Self care is a hot word in the media these days. Have you noticed? It is usually used to sell things that have little or nothing to do with actual self care. We are told that if we are over-committed, poorly nourished or underslept all we need is a glass of wine, piece of chocolate or a bubble bath. Or maybe that new pair of shoes we have been coveting.
Despite its overusage, few of us really know how to do it. As a child, the self care I learned from my mother was about improving my skin/hair/body so that I could look good from the outside. How I felt physically, how I thought about myself or how connected or disconnected I was to spirit wasn’t part of my mindset until I started studying yoga and later Ayurveda.
Time. I hear a lot of people say they don’t have time for self care. Or they do it when they have time, like on yoga retreats or holidays. In the rigours of daily life, it isn’t a priority because there just isn’t time. So then we get sick for reasons we can’t understand, that skin condition or hormonal thing gets worse or we get diagnosed with a thyroid disorder or another autoimmune disorder that is on the rise in our over-committed and overly scheduled culture. Then we suddenly have the time for self care, because we have no other choice. So how do we have the time to care for ourselves when we are obviously sick, a HUGE time zap, but not have the time to prevent it in the first place?
I teach self care habits in my 10 week program Align to Thrive. The habits are simple and intuitive and align our body, mind, spirit with the outer ecosystem – wake up early, go to bed early, greet your day with both silence and movement, eat a big lunch and a small dinner, eat a variety of what your local ecosystem has to offer, allow your digestive system, your body and your mind to pulsate between activity and rest. We thrive on rhythm. When there is a rhthym to what we are doing, we simply have greater capacity. We can simply spend our time more efficiently and effectively and do more of the things that we care about (Look at my last newsletter Annual Review for personal supporting evidence.) Self care gives us more time.
When we live arythmically – waking up and going to bed when we feel like it, eating at different and random times every day, exercising and meditating without regularity - there is a ton of inefficiency in body/mind system -- the body doesn’t know when it gets fed or when it gets to sleep and recharge, the mind doesn’t know if it will get a break in stillness and will stay in overdrive. Chaos ensues. If we want more capacity, we need habits which give energy, not take it away. We need self care habits
Self care isn’t all roses and unicorns (or chocolate and bubble baths, in this case). It is about confronting our daily choices and daily habits straight on rather than running towards an attractive distraction. It can be uncomfortable, hard and sometimes downright ugly. It is about learning to saying NO. A lot. To extra work projects that keep you late at the office, friendships that don’t work, social stuff you aren’t jazzed about. And saying YES to going to bed at 10 rather that rocking out at the bar or on Netflix so you get the 7-8 hours of sleep you need, waking up early for your morning run before work even when you may rather lounge in bed to avoid the cold, or having hard conversations with your friend, partner or boss because the relationship isn’t working any more. Or time alone meditating, checking in with yourself on where you are and where you want to go, cooking healthy food, or turning off your damn phone and doing absolutely nothing.
You are in a constant evolutionary process. A Being in motion. A Verb rather than a Noun. Who you are tomorrow doesn’t have to be who you were yesterday. But anything you want that you don’t currently have requires some kind of upgrade – in habits (or and understanding of how to create new ones and ditch old ones), different skills and maybe even different relationships. You literally have to become someone new and automate the habits of that new person you are becoming.. What does a person who wakes up rested and energized do at night and in the morning? How do they move? What to they eat and when? What do they say YES to and What do they say NO to? I’m not going to lie, this shit isn’t easy. But it’s necessary if we want to wake up in a body that thrives and a life that sings.