Thursday, January 26, 2017

Self-Love and Self-Care

It's been a rough ride these past few weeks and, if there is anything that can teach a person, it's that learning how to take care of yourself is vital to survival. So often, when we are taking care of the people around us and dealing with situations as they arise, we forget to take care of ourselves, rendering ourselves essentially useless to those around us. It doesn't take much to deplete your own energy, especially when you're expending huge amounts of it to everyone but yourself. Fortunately, it also doesn't take so much to attend to yourself and fill your own cup so that it can overflow for others. Here are a few things that work for me:

  • Roll around in bed and hit the snooze button once or twice. Even when I'm awake and ready to leap out of bed to tackle all the things running through my head, I find that taking a few extra minutes to savor the calm, quiet safety of my bed is enough to prepare me for my day ahead, no matter what I'm anticipating. And, at night, when my mind is reeling from the day or going over the list of things I have to do the next day, I rely on a simple mantra: "I'm grateful for the softness of the bed. I'm grateful for the coolness of the sheets. I'm grateful for the warmth of the blanket. I'm grateful for the coziness of my pillow. I'm grateful that I have a safe place to sleep and rest my mind." I repeat this to myself until my mind quiets itself and I fall to sleep.
  • Step away for five minutes here and there and say a prayer of thanks for what I have, no matter what it is. Sometimes I say a prayer of thanks for being employed or for having the opportunity to be a yoga servant or for being able to have a snack or having awesome cats who are always happy when I come home. No one really notices when I'm gone for five minutes. Sometimes I do this in the bathroom where I work so no one will bother me. Sometimes I step outside. Wherever, whenever, it helps.
  • Go outside. Again, even if it's only for a few minutes, go outside. I'm fortunate that I live in a place where the sun shines a lot so I can go out and experience that. If you're not in that sort of environment, go anyway. There is always something in nature that will bring you back to center...wind, the movement of clouds, creatures making their way in your and you shall find.
  • Turn off the television (or stop paying attention to your phone, tablet, etc.). The light from these things sucks the life out of you. Read a real book, one with pages that you can turn and feel with your fingers. Cook something, even if it comes out of a box...stirring water and noodles can be incredibly meditative. Take ten increasingly deep activates your para-sympathetic nervous system and can be calming. Dance around to a song you love and turn it up loud, whether it's piped in through speakers or headphones, it doesn't matter. 
When it seems like there is no time for you, remember that, without you, the rest of your life cannot and will not go on smoothly or easily. As long as you remind yourself that it's all good (even when it isn't), it's all easy (even when it doesn't seem like it), and you are the most important person in your life (even though it seems isn't!), it is imperative that you take care of yourself, physically, spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally. Without your light, the people around you will fumble in the darkness. Shine on, you crazy diamond!!

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