If you’re anything like me, you’re not wired for self-care.
As I see it, as women we’re trained to put others first … and to put our own needs last (if we even know what those are!). Have you ever thought to yourself, “I’ll get to what’s important to me, soon” and then of course you get busy handling everything for your partner, your boss, your kids, your friends? We readily sacrifice our body, our energy, and our own happiness as we serve others. In a way it’s a noble intention. But the consequences for us and others are profound.
We are maxed out, burnt out, exhausted, depleted, and in denial of just how fried we are. We imagine that someday we’ll look after ourselves. That one day this intolerably long to-do list that never seems to end will get completed AND THEN we can enjoy life.
The truth is that our running our lives “on empty,” and thinking it is best to put everyone else first causes all kinds of problems - for our health, our wellbeing, our sex drives, our passion, our confidence, our light and vivaciousness, and our very love of life. We actually have to nourish ourselves first, and then give to others from that filled up place.
Unfortunately, this is exactly the opposite of how we’re taught as women.
When we radically care for ourselves, and then give from a lit-up, embodied, satisfied place we feel better. Our lives work better. People notice us as radiant and glowing. We’re magnetic and pull in magical experiences. Everyone is better off.
An essential first step to reclaiming this birthright is practicing self-care. And realizing as well that self-care is mostly an “inside job.” It doesn’t matter how many baths you take or manicures you get if you are trashing yourself on the inside. I suggest these daily practices, the ones that are quick and simple, but get the most distinct and valuable results. Drum roll...meditation, positive self talk, gratitude journaling, and visualizing. Sound complex? No time for more work? These small investments will yield big bang results. Trust me.
Meditation. Check out www.susanpiver.com. Susan offers free beginner meditation downloads through her Open Heart Project. Meditation is not about clearing your head and not thinking about anything. Actually, just the opposite. Meditation helps you to be calm in the middle of the storm. It helps us cope with daily stressors better. Meditation can take 10-15 minutes or as long as you'd like. After a few days of meditating, you’ll find yourself waking up earlier to get meditation in. The results are life changing. Promise.
Positive self talk. Ever listen to the stuff you tell yourself? It's time to begin to work on reframing. So instead of “I only worked out for twenty minutes when I was aiming for thirty. I’m sooo lazy!” reframe it to “I worked out for twenty minutes. That’s a start. I’m getting stronger and will be able to do more every day!” Listen to your self talk. Would you tell that same talk to your mother, your daughter, your best friend? Then why do you tell it to yourself? Are you starting to see that self care is about self love? Treating yourself just like you would your love.
Gratitude journaling. Simply writing down each morning what you're thankful for and every night before bed what good things happened can really help to make us focus on the good in our lives. As humans, we are wired for negativity. It comes from us needing to survive back in caveman days. We never knew when our next meal would come or if we would have to outrun that tiger. Seriously, in today's age, our bodies don't know we are not in this crisis. We must focus on the positive. We have to remind our bodies that we are okay, all is good, and we are calm.
Visualizing. This is probably the most fun of all the strategies! Simply find a quiet spot, close your eyes, and dream your perfect day. Be realistic here...you probably can't up and quit your job and go to the beach, but you can start to think about how closely you're living to your ideal life.. What time do you get up? What kind of work are you doing? Where are you living? What kind of workout do you do? What foods do you eat? Who are your friends and who do you choose to hang out with? Visualize every detail. Then, take baby steps every day towards making that a reality. So let's say you cant stand the work you do. What action steps can you take to begin moving towards a life you desire? Before you know it, you'll be scheduling your priorities vs prioritizing your schedule.
If you’re a chronically overwhelmed, overworked, undervalued, put-yourself-last-and-others-first, kinda person, try these strategies. These daily practices are how I thrive in this crazy, busy world (as a business owner, a wife, and a mom!). They are not a magic wand to make everything wonderful in your life. What they will do is help you be less stressed, more present, so you can deal with crises as they come up all the much better and begin to enjoy the important stuff in your life. You only live once. This isn't a dress rehearsal. Take time for yourself. Start loving yourself. Start living big!