tap into your most basic need
It's so easy to overlook taking care of ourselves.
“Oh, I’ll take a yoga class tomorrow.”
“I’ll meditate later...”
If we don't make time for ourselves, then how can we be our best self in all areas of our life - a productive worker, a compassionate partner?
Self-care shouldn’t be a radical act nor is it a selfish act. Having a self-care practice is vital to your health. Self-care is exactly that, doing things to take care of yourself! And taking care of yourself doesn’t need to involve anything particularly fancy or expensive. Cultivating a self-care practice can seem difficult, overwhelming or even hard to maintain but it doesn’t have to be. The manifestations of self-care can look however you need them to; it’s totally up to you! The only requirement is that it genuinely heals you, even if only for a moment.
#ProTip: To bring self-care and ritual to the forefront of your life, pencil it in! Make a schedule that details your obligations. Your self-care practices should be listed. Want to meditate for 20 minutes? Schedule it! Want to take yourself out for a solo dinner? Schedule that, too. Creating a schedule helps to keep you committed to your wellness practices.
Below are 5 self-care tips I have found to create an enormous shift in my perspective. Once I started to honor myself, I marveled at how little I reacted to external situations/people, and more my inner places of peace rise to the surface! There is beauty in all things even in the murky; look at the lotus flower. Keep in mind, our natural state of being is one of joy, peace and grace. Often it is only the outside non-sense that needs doing away with in order to tap back in. The more we take care of ourselves, the less the clutter will affect us.
Here are some ways to bring self-care rituals to the forefront of your life:
1. Just Breathe. Remember, breathe deeply. Our bodies’ number one need is oxygen (more so than water and food). If we breathe shallowly, rather than breathing with purpose deep into our stomachs, we may start to disconnect and become ungrounded. As many of us know, more can be achieved from a place where we are fully present. Breathing deep sends the right signals to our mind and nervous system and lets the parasympathetic system kick back in. This breathing meditation is my go to when I'm stressed, can't sleep or just feeling out of sorts. Simply, breathe naturally, then place one hand on your heart and one hand on your belly. Exhale everything out, then allow a full inhale to lift you, creating space in your body; then let your slow exhale soften you, allowing you to settle into the space you’ve just created with your inhale. Feel yourself lengthen, growing taller on the inhale. As you exhale, allow your chest to open and your shoulders to drop away and back from your ears. If your mind starts to drift, it's okay! It happens. Just bring your attention back to your breath. Repeat as many times as needed.
2. Daily Check-ins. Morning and evening check-ins…including meditation. Now I know meditation can be somewhat of a daunting or overwhelming notion, particularly if you’re unsure of how to meditate. But this is the best part; the truth is, there is no ‘right’ way to do it, so there is no ‘wrong’ way to do it. To ease your way into relaxation, try listening to a pre-sleep guided meditation. Faith Hunter has some great ones (she’s a personal fav because her voice is soothing and comforting). Before my nightly wind-down, I also write a few words in my journal, acknowledging my feelings in that moment and from the day’s experiences or I simply list three things I'm grateful for that day. Journaling is, of course, not mandatory — sometimes just breathing and checking in with how you feel– and letting yourself feel it — can be enough to allow release of undesired emotions. When we don’t check in and identify our true feelings, we create a massive disconnect with what is important to us, and no one wants suppressed emotions and feelings! They will ALWAYS resurface, and often when we least want or expect them to!
3. Move Your Body. Go for a walk/run, a swim, or a bike ride. Practice yoga, karate or fencing. Dance in your living room. I'm a firm believer that movement is medicine; it alleviates tension, increases circulation and simply makes you feel good. Whatever it is, do it and do it regularly.
4. Check Your Circle. Say ‘no’ to toxic people, and be unafraid to speak your truth. I know this is much easier said than done, but the message you give yourself when you say ‘no’ to someone who isn’t good for or to you, is that you are saying yes to yourself. You will be rewarded as a result! When done respectfully, there is nothing wrong with removing yourself from those with whom you are not aligned. If it’s not that simple, allow yourself to speak openly. You will immediately feel a sense of relief.
5. Get lifted. (John Legend's first album instantly came to mind. Just me? Okay...) Getting “lifted” entails doing something that makes your soul vibrate. Maybe it's just being alone, taking a hot bath after your day, reading in silence, eating more veggies and fruit, spiritual or religious practices, listening to music, coloring in a coloring book or painting, and meditating can definitely all fall into the “lifted” category. A twofer! #winning.
Inviting self-care rituals into your life is a practice that can allow you to tap into your most basic needs as a human being. Give yourself permission to let go of preconceived notions regarding how you should be spending your time. Let go of the need to hustle and make room for more flow. Your mind and body will thank you.