I got into trouble for saying this on the radio:
My self-care and health are the most important things to me. My son is #2.
People online called me selfish, and a bad role model, but I’ll tell you what:
My kid is happier and better cared for when my health is the top priority.
It’s a paradox: selfish self-care for the health of the family.
When our families and friends (and clients) see us taking exquisite care of ourselves, they begin to see the possibilities for greater ease, freedom, and health in their own lives.
AKA: be the change, be the living example.
I tried doing it the other way — heck, I’m naturally Type-A and excelled at the other way.
I was trying to DO more to feel better, but that just left me feeling more depleted and frantic. The more I DID, the stronger my cravings for sugar and caffeine felt.
Now this may not be true for all of you, as I have some overseas folks here, but my American work ethic has something to do with this:
I was raised in a culture where you DO SOMETHING to fix something:
- Chunk down the problems
- Look for the weak link
- Study the systems
- Integrate a step-by-step plan you can work through
- Learn a new skill that helps you fix the “bad” way you were before…
It works for a lot of things in life, but not ease.
Not real nourishing health.
Here’s the catch: vitality is inefficient.
It loves to drink up time and resources. It flourishes in flow.
In other words – working on it doesn’t work.
It’s another paradox: working less to feel better.
Relax more to feel more alive.
Freedom and commitment to a health plan.
The old way of “powering through” to heal your body and life ends up dissecting the body and symptoms into parts instead of being seen as a beautiful whole:
- Headaches at work are handled with Advil instead of looking at stress and diet.
- Loss of juicy libido is blamed on age rather than looking at relationship and hormones
- Sleep troubles are handled with Ambien instead of looking at work-life balance
- Weight loss is fought with reduced calories and more exercise instead of looking at food intolerance and stress
We try to DO more instead of relax into awareness and ease.
In my early years as a mama, as I was going through my separation and divorce, I tried to do more to feel better:
- Working late and rising early to get more work done
- Reintroducing caffeine to my life to stay focused
- Relying more on networking functions as my social life than connecting with old friends
And my body finally got through to me and told me that I was over-doing and over stressed. It got to the point where I saw my friends a few times a month and was working from 5:30am to 9:30pm every night.
I’ve learned that habits the nourish my life and energy keep me in the shape I desire to be in. Dieting never gave me the results I was looking for, but making daily, conscious efforts to feel well DID.
I’m clear: to be a good mom, you have to mother yourself first. Joy and vitality are immeasurable qualities of aliveness.
And to master your cravings, you need to fill your energy and nourishment tank with a lot of fuel. Otherwise your body will cry out for the comfort foods that answer the pain in the moment, but lead to a life long battle with weight and exhaustion.
With a little help from my partner who is a bit older and wiser in the area of ease, as well as my own coaches and friends, I’ve instituted a radical schedule of self-care in order to be the mom, woman, and health coach I want to be:
- I run my own business, so I have to set my own hours: my work hour boundaries are now set in stone.
- Getting less than 7 hours of sleep is not allowed, honey. 8+ please.
- My juices really get going when I have creative down time with books, pens, and being in nature: this is now scheduled
- No cell phones allowed into the bedroom, nor at meal times.
- Fun in the sun (or rain) is mandatory: walks and bike rides at least 3 times a week
- Connecting with friends and my partner is not throw away time – it is a vitally important ingredient in self-care and in building my business
- Eating simple, healthy food is non-negotiable.
Here’s your home-play assignment, should you choose to accept:
(Home-play sounds more fun than homework, right?)
Take a day off.
An entire day for you.
No schedule, no plans, NO INTERNET.
Take your kid to camp or a friend’s house, say goodbye at the door to your partner, or just turn the ringer off your phone.
Use as sick day as a well-day.
Then do whatever you need to feel well, replenish your body-mind, and get into ease:
- Hop back into bed for another hour or two of sleep
- Read a saucy tale in your skivvies
- Lounge in the park listening to music or your favorite podcast (I’m in love with Being Here with Ariel & Shya Kane, Marc Maron’s WTF and Dan Savage)
- Put on your favorite sun dress or shorts and go for a bike ride to your favorite cafe: read a magazine
- Cook a new recipe — or just eat easy salads all day — or have a piece of amazing chocolate by the river
- Feel no guilt, know that your health and well-being depend on giving yourself what you truly desire: ease & play
Self-care means you’re caring for yourself and your needs as you would a trusted, loved friend or pet. Would you deny your friend a shoulder to cry on, or your pet the food and rest it needs to feel well? How can you give yourself the energy, love and spirit-filling nourishment you need to build a base of real health?
Self care isn’t selfish, it’s nourishment and deserved.