For years I have felt a sense of dis-ease within myself. I struggled with weight gain, dissatisfaction with my body image and discomfort with hormonal changes. Keeping up with my peers in yoga class was difficult, so just stopped going. I felt tired or restless most of the time, but couldn’t sleep well at night. There was no energy for creativity or self care with the demands of raising children, working and other responsibilities. I was emotionally exhausted, physically limited and spiritually drained.
I wanted to reboot my body, mind and spirit but wasn’t sure where to start.
I turned to self-help books on wellness, therapy and bodywork. I met with a fitness trainer, a spiritual director and a nutritionist. There were too many experts sharing advice on how to be healthy, but most of those ideas did not seem to work for me on a long term basis. During a six week unplanned sabbatical following surgery, I finally had a chance to slow down and listen to my inner wisdom. I began to trust that I could make wise choices with the tools I collected over the years, but this time, I listened to how my body, mind and spirit responded to the combination of those tools. I made a commitment to self care based on my own inner wisdom. I began the slow healing journey back to optimal health and well-being.
Self Care begins with an awareness of what you need for your own well-being.
Self care is a commitment to YOU first. That is the most important step on your wellness journey. Self care means paying attention to your body, mind and spirit on a regular basis and trusting that you know on some deep level what you need for your own well-being.
Most of us have tried a variety of approaches to wellness. When one area of our life gets in balance, another area seems to fall apart. That’s because we focus only on one area at a time, such as our physical body or our emotional response or a spiritual practice. We forget to look at the whole picture of wellness. Your body, mind and spirit are interconnected and need to be addressed as a whole. You can take charge of your own health and find simple ways to start on the road to better health by addressing all these areas simultaneously. Everything is connected. You have choices. It’s time to bring your whole self back into balance and listen to your inner wisdom.
As I work with clients on their overall wellness, I have found that there are a variety of resources to balance the body, mind and spirit. I want to share some of these self care techniques with you on a regular basis through my wellness newsletter and blog. You get to choose the ones that work best for where you are right now in your quest for wellness. The important thing is to start with the easy things that can help you take those first few steps towards health and wellness.
I created two unique decks of wellness resources with my top 64 self care tips, called Balance Resource Cards. These cards are designed to be tangible ways to balance your body, mind and spirit. The two decks of 36 cards each (32 wellness tips and 4 instructional cards) come in a folded envelope tied in a gold or platinum elastic bow. This allows for an abundant supply of tips that you can choose from each day as personal wellness practices. Each card is designed to provide practical self care tips related to health and wellness.
The cards are simple enough that most people can use the resources to bring balance to their body, mind and spirit. They range from simple breathing techniques to restorative yoga poses to spiritual practices such as gratitude and forgiveness. The cards can help you create your own unique plan to small-step your way to healthy living. You can simply choose a card at random from the deck or pull several cards to practice for the week. If something doesn’t work for you that day, put it back in the deck and pull another card. Keep a deck at home and the second deck at work or beside your computer. Display the cards in a decorative bowl or business card holder where you see them regularly as self accountability. You have choices and can create the perfect wellness routine that works for you.
For those of you who already have a set of my Balance Resource Cards, I hope you are using the cards regularly. If you like the cards, I would love it if you could do me a favor and share this post with two friends who could use a self care boost in their life. If you do not have a set of the wellness cards, then I encourage you to give yourself a gift as an early holiday present.
That’s the beauty of this gift of balance. There are many choices that you can do right now to improve your health and wellness. The cards can complement the things you are already doing or provide some new opportunities for healing. Listen to your inner wisdom as you use these resources and discover what works best in order to heal your body mind and spirit. You hold the key to your healing process.
“Sometimes I arrive just when God’s ready to have someone click the shutter.” Ansel Adams
I opened my patio door this last week to snap a picture of something red, for the #SeptemberSurprises photo challenge group I participate in. I planned to zoom in on the apples on the tree, but just as I raised my phone to snap a shot, this little gal flew up the feeder and paused for a moment. Her mate with the beautiful ruby throat buzzed excitedly around her, then flew away, concerned about my presence.
This is the same humming bird that got trapped in our sunroom a few months ago, when someone accidentally left the door open. As we attempted to free her, she began flying frantically around the room, banging into the windows. She eventually collapsed exhausted on the floor, after attempting multiple avenues of escape. I carefully lifted her outside onto the patio with my dustpan, then fed her some nectar with a spoon for a few minutes, until she was strong enough to fly away.
Since that day, we have had a connection with each other. She is not afraid of me when I stand by the door. She usually lets me know when the feeder is empty, by hovering at my kitchen window to get my attention, then darting back and forth between the feeder and the window. She often stops by to say hello when I am doing dishes. She makes my heart sing when I see her. I call her Hope. She often arrives at the perfect moment.
Fall is a great time to contemplate earth’s bounty. Here is a short meditation by my friend Janie, who shares a collage of pictures from her garden. What is blooming in your soul garden?
Let’s have some fun this Fall. I think I’ll head to the the Farmer’s Market and grab a pumpkin.
Fall is also a good time to let go of things. This letting go practice by the Fetzer Institute uses a great visual for letting go.
Did you know foods can heal your body? Try these self healing recipes from a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective. Or consider taking an afternoon nap to recharge your body.
We are all different. We have different styles of learning and experiencing the world around us. It makes sense that we need to find spiritual practices to fit who we are. Which type of meditation is right for you?
I like SimpleReminders. “What this planet needs is more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of all kinds.” Dalai Lama
Life feels busy this month. Each week appears balanced at first glance. I have steady work, time for friends and even an art day scheduled. I’ve been checking things off the “To Do” list with great satisfaction. Perhaps I’m feeling busy because I don’t have a large block of uninterrupted time to work on a writing project I’d like to complete. Despite a writer’s retreat next week, I am still feeling busy.
1. the quality or condition of being actively and attentively engaged in work or a pastime.
2. lively but meaningless activity.
I finally realize the answer. While I’ve been taking time for various types of self care, I have not been taking time for my morning meditation. I’m an introvert. When I don’t get that block of quiet time first thing in the morning, it feels like I spend the rest of the day rushing from one task to another. I need quiet time to create a center of balance for my day.
How do you create time for yourself in the midst of busyness? Do you block out time on the calendar? Do you say no to something that drains your energy so you can do something that energizes you? Do you take time to sit in silence?
The first rule of self care is to say YES to yourself. Saying yes is a way to give yourself permission to do the things needed in order to be well. Life has a way of changing. Sometimes we need to say yes multiple times.
Silence is important for introverts. Silence creates a pause in the day which creates a still point. This stillness allows you to listen and hear your quiet inner voice that cannot be heard over the constant activity and noise of daily life. Silence allows you to become present in the moment. As the brain chatter and stream of thoughts slow down, you begin to notice what is happening within your inner landscape. The inner landscape is another term for the sensations, thoughts, feelings, images, messages or other cues that are present inside a person. Your inner landscape informs the body’s intelligent response system and intuition. This awareness or knowledge of what is happening to you on the inside is called the inner wisdom. Silence helps you listen to your inner wisdom.
Begin your day by pausing in silence. Take a few deep breaths, then allow your breathing to return to normal. Take a moment to set some intentions for the day. Taking a moment for this simple practice is helpful for introverts.
The Conscious Examen is a way to pause at the end of the day and review the events. St Ignatius of Loyola developed this form of prayer as a way to “find God in all things.” The five steps of reviewing your day include:
Gratitude: When did I feel closest to God? When was I most grateful?
Grace: How has God been working in me? When did I notice God’s grace?
Sorrow: Where did I fail? When did I feel separated from God?
Forgiveness: Reconcile my shortcomings through confession and forgiveness.
Hope: Ask for God’s help and guidance for the future.
Are you creating time for silence in your daily self care routine? What are you saying YES to this week? I’ve said yes to quiet time every morning for silence and meditation.
I’m taking a 2 week online course called Cultivating Self Care by Vivienne McMaster. It has been helpful to reassess my daily self-care habits through journaling and self portraits. We are looking at our current self care routines. We are getting new ideas to try in the future. I’ve made some self discoveries that surprised me.
Nobody takes care of me when I’m sick.
I’ve had the flu for the past 48 hours and haven’t felt like doing much of anything. I had no energy for all those lovely self care habits I usually enjoy. Just getting out of bed to get a drink of water was the extent of my self care for the first 24 hours. Pulling cards from the Balance Resource Card deck only made me feel guilty that I wasn’t doing things to take care of myself.
I needed to take a break from the list of “shoulds”.
I asked myself “What do you really need right now, my dear?” And the answer was the simple things. I gave myself permission to sleep all day. I asked others prepare meals and do the dishes. I drank enormous amounts of water and hot tea. I even got frequent walks to the kitchen and bathroom. I surprised myself by taking a brief walk outside to get some fresh air.
Here are a few things I discovered this week:
I need to give myself permission to take care of ME first. All. The. Time.
I need to pay attention to what I really need. Not what I think I should be doing, but what I need at that particular moment in time. It might just be simple little things like getting a glass of water or getting a breath of fresh air.
It’s ok to ask others to help. Especially when I’m sick. Most of the time others are willing to help out when asked.
Now that I’m feeling better, I can ease back into some of my regular routines. When I’m ready.
What do you do for self care when you are sick? Give yourself permission to take care of yourself first!