Self care has been my biggest struggle as of late. To say it's almost impossible to keep a balance while trying to date AND get a business off the ground would be an understatement. Us ladies (or should I say, us "perfectionist" chicks?) want to be everything to everyone, but in reality, YOU CAN'T BE. And if you try, your mental and physical well-being will suffer BIG TIME.
I'm sure I'm not the only gal out there who struggles to maintain a happy, healthy state while juggling all that life throws at her. So, I'm giving you my 6 "self care' musts that keep my physical, mental and spiritual self thriving. Through 10 years of ups and downs, I've finally found the secret formula to staying on point everyday. It's not a one-size-fits-all, but I have a feeling these mini steps will have you showing up as your best self—whole, grounded, focused and ready for more.
Before diving in, I will say that self care is a practice, just like art or yoga—it needs to be customized to you and practiced religiously. And, these might sound like "obvious" hacks that you've heard time and time again, but I can't stress enough the importance of giving each one the attention it needs. If one starts to lack, the others will suffer, too.
Also remember that life is full of seasons. It's ever evolving and so are you. I can tell you with 100% conviction that once you feel like you've found balance, something right around the bend will throw you off kilter once again. When that happens, give yourself a little grace and adjust as necessary. You're not going to be perfect all of the time, and that's OKAY!
Isolation breeds loneliness and depression, community fuels joy, healing and abundance. People don't thrive on their own, but together. For me, I often retreat when I don't feel good about my body or feel the need to give 100% of myself to my work. We often justify avoiding social interaction by attributing it to necessary "pauses" or reboots. Unfortunately, after a while, we're often only left with a void, like we're lacking life. Our journeys' are meant to be shared. Time to reboot is absolutely essential to recover from stressful circumstances, but we're not meant to stay there.
With the above said, it matters who you surround yourself with. You're the sum of the people you hang around, so make sure they mirror who you want to become. I always say "choose people that fuel your flame."
2. Sleep, sleep, sleep
Sleep is the most powerful remedy for reestablishing mental and physical balance. When I get shitty sleep, I'm completely out of whack—stressed, down, anxious with crazy carb cravings.
And there's scientific reasoning for this. Here it goes ... our growth hormone, or the “anti-aging” hormone, is secreted during sleep, which stimulates tissue regeneration, detoxification, muscle building, breakdown of fat stores and normalization of blood sugar. During sleep, free radicals are scavenged in the brain, minimizing its aging process. Additionally, numerous health problems are aggravated by inadequate sleep. Sleep gives us renewed vitality, a more positive outlook on life and the energy we need to reach our full potential. If you're not getting 7-9 hours a night, expect drowsiness, fatigue, decreased concentration, impaired memory, reduced stress tolerance, mood changes, irritability, muscle tension, and lowered immunity, among others.
A few rules to stick to:
From one party girl to another: this is the hardest of all 6 self care hacks, IMO. I am happiest when I'm surrounded by people I love (my emotional well-being literally depends on it). Often times though (in my world), this means sharing a cocktail by the pool, at a baseball game or during post-church brunch (because obvi, a mimosa and brunch go hand-in-hand).
Don't get me wrong—a drink here and there doesn't hurt. But, even a couple in one sitting can have unexpected lasting emotional and psychological effects. Alcohol often leads to restless sleep, increased anxiety (termed "hangxiety" after a night of drinking) and feelings of depression. As alcohol increases feel-good dopamine, it interrupts other neurotransmitters, like serotonin and norepinephrine, which help regulate mood. Lower levels of these chemicals make you feel anxious, impulsive, agitated, irritable, sad and a whole other slew of emotions. Alcohol also disrupts sleep and alters the thought process, making the emotional roller-coaster even worse.
Furthermore, alcohol promotes fat storage. We all know that alcohol increases cravings of empty carbohydrates (hello BOJANGLES!). But many don't know that when alcohol is consumed with food, the body automatically processes the alcohol first, storing food calories as fat. This is why you hear people say not to eat an hour before or after an alcoholic beverage.
If alcohol is consumed on a frequent basis, gals often experience weight gain (unfortunately, not in lean muscle form ;)). And I don't know about you, but unhealthy weight gain is the ultimate buzz kill to my self esteem.
4. Good Nutrition.
When my nutrition slips, everything else seems to go to shit. I'll have carb cravings, extreme bloating, low energy, restless sleep, mind fog and increased anxiety.
I'm not saying nutrition has be perfect all the time. I'm an "everything in moderation" kind of gal. If I eat well 90% of the time, I typically feel pretty good.
A few rules I stick to that help:
5. Morning meditation, devotions and positive affirmations.
Meditation returns you to your breath, slows your mind, disassociates you from thoughts that don't serve you and allows you to be completely present in the moment. My favorites: Gabrielle Bernstein (being the spirit junkie that I am!). She has an app.
Devotion and prayer: I start each morning with 10 min of devotion and prayer before I even touch my phone. This grounds me in what’s really important and sets the tone for my day. This God time strengthens my mind, rids me of any fear about my circumstances and puts my spirit in the right place to tackle the people, places and things ahead of me.
I also practice the below affirmations in the mirror or my yoga studio on a daily basis. I can't tell you how transformational they have been to my everyday life. In the last 6 months, I have accomplished achievements I never knew were possible. I chalk a lot of it up to these daily affirmations.
You are powerful.
You are capable.
You are worthy.
You are beautiful.
You are confident.
You can be anything you want to be.
Moving your body is a powerful tool to rejuvenate your spirit, recover your body and reset your mind. Make a point to do it EVERYDAY.
Even if I binged the night before, only slept 4 hours or have a crazy ass schedule, I never miss a workout. Why? If I'm not feeling good about myself, I can always count on the endorphins to lift my mood and the sweat to detoxify and de-bloat me (praise the Lord). Honestly, just getting to the gym will give you a little pep in your step (it's an achievement in itself, is it not?!).
Remember, it's not how many times you fall off the bandwagon (it's life, you will fall, A LOT), it's how many times you get back on. Nothing can ever derail your progress, UNLESS you choose to stay down. It's your CHOICE.