Self-care for Sensitive Souls
Reconnect with your inner resources
“No. 1 Health Rule: Give yourself permission to be happy ... Women in particular need to keep an eye on their physical and mental health, because if we’re scurrying to and from appointments and errands, we don’t have a lot of time to take care of ourselves. We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own ‘to-do’ list.”
– Michelle Obama
Amen to that!
Not so easy is it, though? Maybe you resonate with how my yoga class mornings used to go …
It’s a Friday, the end of a busy week. I arrive with barely two minutes to put my mat down. As usual I’ve tried to do another ten jobs before leaving the house.
It doesn’t feel good.
My teacher smiles at me. (She is a reproach-free person.) I lie down on my mat. ‘Let go of all you had to do to get here,’ intones her calm, soothing voice. I try. It’s so tempting to let monkey mind go mad in there, so hard to give myself time for me. Eventually, I manage to notice that I’m breathing. Good, we’re on a roll.
This weekly routine went on for longer than I care to admit. Eventually I decided, I can do better than this. So I did some big thinking and I came up with these 3 tips for making space for yourself on your to-do list. See what you think …
1. Ease up on the hard work. A lot of us have a tendency to spend our days fire-fighting our immediate concerns, while we marginalise the longing for a deep ease inside ourselves, that we know in our heart takes time and effort to grow.
The first step towards finding that ease is to welcome both those aspects of yourself – the you that takes care of the plate-spinning and the you that wants to go deep and feel at home inside. It’s paradoxical, but accepting ourselves as we are opens up the possibility of change like nothing else can.
So while you’re here, take a few moments now to turn your attention inwards, and appreciate what those seemingly opposing parts do for you in your life – the speedy and solution-focused, and the soft and soulful.
There you go, you’ve just made a bit more space for the ease …
2. Put your own oxygen mask on first. Here’s a little honesty check: are you putting other people’s needs, demands and expectations before your own because it’s more comfortable that way?
Don’t get me wrong – I certainly believe in caring for others. But when we settle for an easy life in the moment by putting ourselves last, an unseen frustration slowly creeps up on us.
Ultimately we can get resentful and burnt out, and that over time can turn into a chronic body symptom. Yikes, no thanks. So, time to inaugurate a new habit …
What’s your oxygen mask today? What specific things can you do, before the end of this day, that are important and meaningful to you?
Sometimes, responding to other people’s agendas is such a knee-jerk reaction, we don’t even notice it’s happening. Not only that, but we haven’t the faintest idea what we ourselves need. If that’s you, try this next tip …
3. Stop in your tracks! Try it now. Just take a moment and stop. Close your eyes and take a long, slow breath. (Hello again, breath!) Ask yourself, ‘If there was one small thing I could give myself right now, what would it be?’ Then do it. A cuppa? Two minutes of head-on-the-table relief from thinking? A stretch and a just-for-me-no-one’s-looking boogie?
Then – and this is important – notice how it feels. What does your body say back to you? Did you get a deep breath, a smile, tears?
That’s feedback, and it tells you you’re in touch with yourself.
When we pay attention to what is true and genuine inside us, we’re free. We’re on the line to our true needs, and that’s where the ease is.
Bonus tip: Keep trying. It’s a journey, not a destination. (You knew that.) Our habits are like giant tanker ships that take a lot of time and space to turn around. The good news is, once they’ve changed course, it’s easier to stay on track than turn back.
And my wonderful yoga teacher? Find her here.
Thanks to crazybanana at Flickr for the image