This week I want to talk to you about the importance of SELF CARE.
As mothers, friends, sisters, wives, and employers(ees) it's difficult finding the time and budget to do the things we should to care for ourselves. Pampering ourselves is not always at the top of our priority lists, and I totally get it. As women, it is in our nature to care for others and put ourselves last. We want to make sure that our families, husbands, boyfriends/partners and even the dog is taken care of first. That's just who we are.
However, it is important to take a step back and ask yourself this question, 'Who is taking care of ME?
You've heard this all before, but you seriously can't take care of those you love unless you take care of yourself FIRST! What good are we if we're constantly in bed suffering from colds, migraines, or even more serious health issues? It's important that we keep our well being front and center as we list our priorities in life.
As a part time care taker for my elderly parents I can definitely relate to the reasons that keep us from ourselves. I travel from London to California every other month, or so, to stay with them, care for them and do the things that they wouldn't necessarily be able to do on their own. My father is 88, a retired fireman who is currently in pretty good health aside from his high blood pressure, increasing hearing loss and recently challenged gait. My mother is 83 who suffers from heart failure, diabetes, peripheral neuropathy, occasional episodes of gout and not to mention the negative mentality that all of these conditions wrap her in. When you're in constant pain it's hard to stay positive and uplifted as you sit in the same chair, day in and day out, with no real motivation for the day other than to get up and make sure you have the scheduled meals that your diabetes restricts you to. It's not easy for her, and it's not easy for the rest of us.
Recently, I was in Califonia with them for 4 consecutive months and after a couple of months I began to lose touch within. I regretfully fell away from the things that I do to help keep me balanced because I was putting all of my energy into my family and friends around me. With that said, I began to break down physically. I developed a minor case of vertigo, sciatica and high blood pressure (scary!). So as I made the decision to spend Christmas at home (8 hours away from my parents) with my partner whom I hadn't really seen all this time, I moved back into my routine of decompression. This is what works for me;
Massage! I cannot say enough about the benefits of this wonderful form of bodily and mindfulness care. Human touch alone is grounding to the soul and allows me to surrender to the idea of nothingness. Physically it does amazing wonders so that our muscles and bones can remain aligned and move more effectively. Massage can also reduce pain, anxiety, and help us sleep better, just to name a few. I try and get a massage once or twice a month, even if it's just a 30 minute head and neck massage, or foot massage anything is better than nothing!
Meditation. Ahhh... the beauty of stillness. I started my mindfulness practice full time just over a year ago and let me just say that it has brought an amazing sense of calmness into my life. It really has impacted the way I think and what I allow to affect me mentally and emotionally. I've learned to stop sweating the small stuff and embrace the abundance all around me. I realize that 'sitting still'even for a minute might seem a little crazy to some of you but, believe me, if you give it a little patience and faith it can turn your life around.
Walking. Yes, this one is definitely doable for those of you who can't stay still! ;-) For me, walking in the outdoors among nature is incredibly calming. I enjoy feeling the wind on my face, being mindful of the people and animals around me, taking in the joy of being alive and the gratefulness that I am even able to walk (I always remember to count ALL of the blessings in my life) Taking the time to get outside and walk, even if it's just down the block, the experience can surface some wonderful thoughts/ideas and bring you back to center.
Writing. Journaling has always been a practice of mine since I was a young girl. Something about writing and reflecting on your thoughts and experiences can surface a better understanding of ourselves and even those around us. It keeps our minds 'within' and it's a time that is all our own. I recently read an article by Nancy J. Adler from the Harvard Business Review and she found that 'research has documented that outstanding leaders take time to reflect. Their success depends on the ability to access their unique perspective and bring it to their decisions and sense-making every day.' Makes sense to me!
Giving. I LOVE giving back! Whether it's to the people in my life or out in the community. I have always found great pleasure in volunteering my time to great causes and of course helping those around me. Giving back offers me a rewarding sense that what I do 'matters' and offers those I help the same notion. I love supporting people however I can and with that comes a great deal of compassion and love.
How do you decompress? Feel free to share your thoughts and ideas!