I have been thinking about the concept of self-care a lot lately - perhaps because I feel maybe I haven't embraced it like I should. I admit, I have been pushing myself harder than usual, putting my needs and wants near the bottom of the list. Strangely, I am a huge advocate for self-care and taking the time to refill your cup but I find myself digging a little deeper to define this concept to integrate it into my daily life and routines - helping bring balance to an otherwise crazy world.
In the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali, he refers to the concept of samskaras - these repetitive habits that no longer best serve us. These patterns or what I refer to as grooves (like a record), are things we return to when we are under stress or distress. Down deep inside, we know these are not the best thing for us but because that groove is so well worn, we return to these habits/patterns for a sense of comfort. These grooves can be unhealthy eating, poor exercise habits, lack of sleep, giving of ourselves too much, depriving ourselves, and more. It is hard to break out of a groove - especially one that is deeply entrenched - but the point is that to move forward, we have to break free and begin new, healthier habits and patterns and let go of what no longer serves us.
This is where I think self-care fits in.
While self-care most often brings to mind massages, days off, a bubble bath....I believe self-care includes all of the things you do to nourish, refill, and strengthen yourself. What you do to support yourself physically, spiritually, emotionally - that's self-care. Those routines you do that help you stay balanced; those books, music, meditation, education and seminars; those exercises, diet, sleep, water - all of these nourish, support, and refill you. You need these things to care for yourself and to grow.
What I find most challenging about self-care is balancing the needs of those around me and my dharma (mission) with self-support. I tend to give way too much and when you give all of your energy away, there's nothing left. That's it! A friend recently told me to think of self-care like juggling 4 balls: spirituality, work, family, health. The only ball you can drop and it will bounce is work. All the others are like glass balls...they shatter and are very difficult to rebuild. So what do you do?
Do what you love to do, what lights you up, what inspires you, fills your cup! That can be reading books that bring you joy and inspiration or simply make you laugh. It means sitting outside and soaking up the sun and staring at the clouds. It means exercising regularly and eating a balanced diet while getting enough sleep to keep you healthy physically. It means saying NO. It means letting go of negativity and negative people and surrounding yourself with positivity and positive people. It means taking on only that which is sustainable for long term. And that is exactly how I am beginning to apply this daily. I look at each project with the question "is this sustainable?" I am reducing my negative energy around me by focusing on building strong and supportive relationships and letting go of the things and people who drain too much of me. I am taking more time for art, music, education, gardening, baking/cooking, loving on my animals and kids, personal yoga practice and meditation.
Each day you wake up with a certain amount of energy and you have to decide who and what gets that energy. Choose carefully because as much as other things need your energy...so do you!
Play, live, breathe, work, share, give...but do it all equally.
Back to samskaras...choose your habits, reform your patterns to better serve you. Don't just say that right now I am required to overdo, push too hard and come home empty and later I will take care of me. Would you tell a loved one that? Make self-care a priority every day. Throughout your day, make it a point to do things that nourish you and uplift you and try to reduce the draining things. Nourish mind, body, & soul EVERY DAY!
I have been "playing" and experimenting with yoga, aromatherapy and healthy living since my late teens - researching, testing, reading, investigating, and learning anything that would make my life - and the lives around me - better naturally.
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