Last year, I wrote a post sharing 15 lessons on self-care that I had been learning in my life. Looking back at that post, I see how important these things still are for me - and how I've had to re-learn this lessons at time, like slowing down to breathe (always!) - and how others seem like a normal part of my life now. I'm sticking with this theme and sharing new lessons on self-care and whole-person nourishment that I've been learning in the past year of my life, as I enter a whole new year. I've always loved my birthday and spent yesterday feeling so grateful for the people in my life. It was an amazing day spent exploring nature, getting the best massage of my life (seriously), and eating Thai food takeout while watching a movie with my love and our dog.
Read to the end where I share a self-care worksheet for all of you to take care of yourself as well.
In January, I only had one trip planned - a mini-vacation to Austin to join my boyfriend on his work trip later that month. I never guessed how much I would actually travel this past year. In fact, the traveling really was a trusting of that gut instinct telling me yes, go and saying yes to new experiences. This year, I've been lucky enough to go to Spain, Costa Rica, and am gearing up to head to my yoga teacher training next month.
Traveling opens you up to a new perspective and throws you out of your normal routines. There's a lot of magic in that - everything you see, smell, hear, touch, taste is new. Your senses are engaged, you're present, and you're alive when you travel. It really helps me bring my life into perspective - checking Instagram or email constantly aren't that important and takes me away from the present moment.
You don't have to travel to new countries to get these experiences. Get out and explore your city or state or country (or the world). Turn your phone off, and play with the world!
2. Live Seasonally by Cycles
I've been so interested in living by the cycles of nature and our bodies this year. As women, we have monthly cycles that change how we feel or act throughout the month. The moon and seasons have their cycles. We can use these cycles from nature to support ourselves and our self-care. The other night in a restorative yoga class, the teacher mentioned how the darkness this time of year and in winter allows us time to rest and go within.
For me, this means in the summer, I'm craving fresh produce, salads, smoothies. I want to be active and outside all the time. I crave being social and fill my calendar with activities. Right now in the fall, I'm feeling the move towards slowing down, craving warm, rich soups and curries, and taking more time to myself. In my menstrual cycles, I know that during my period, I'm more sensitive and need to take a lot of rest to take care of myself.
Start to tune into how you feel (or what you crave) during the month or season, and honor that. You don't have to be eating salads or running all year round - what you need will change.
3. FEEL into your Body.
Your body is so incredibly wise. When you give yourself the space to listen to it, it will guide you. It will tell you when it wants to eat, what it wants, how much, so you don't have to second-guess yourself or follow external rules (or diets). When you can feel into your body, it will tell you if it wants rest or movement, dance, play, sleep, time with others or time alone. Explore what it would feel like to actually give yourself those needs and desires.
For me, lately, it means to feel into what my body wants in my yoga practice. I get on my yoga mat, turn on music, and just play. Somedays, it's a whole lot of time chilling in child's pose or breathing while other times, I'm dancing, shaking my hips, and getting upside down.
4. Practice Courage.
Courage was one of my core desired feelings this year, and I have an image next to my desk of them to remind me of that. This year, I've had plenty of times to practice that (of course). Sometimes, I really did not want to show up and practice courage by putting myself out there. Other times, I did and it was hard (but still felt good to a degree) - some of the blogposts I've written have been nearly impossible to publish because I didn't know what kind of criticism I would get.
One of these ways has been podcasting. Last year at this time, I felt terrified of podcasting, but I wanted to explore it. I set the intention of being on more podcasts and put myself out there. Embracing that fear have led to new opportunities, and I feel more comfortable expressing myself this way. Here's one of my favorites with Recovery Warriors, and my podcast WholeYou with my friend Valerie!
Another of my core desired feelings was playful and doing things with more ease. Right now, as I'm writing this post, I'm listening to music and drinking yummy tea. It's a way for me to bring simple pleasures into my daily life and play more. After this, I'm feeling the desire to dance while cooking lunch in my kitchen. I've been doing a lot of dancing around my house, jumping on my mini-trampoline (rebounder) to take mini-breaks during the day, or playing with my dog. It increases my joy level immensely and it's so fun to tap into this childlike part of me.
6. Always Be Learning.
I always have 5 books I'm reading at the same time. Yet, instead of trying to learn as a way to 'fix' myself, I'm approaching reading as an opportunity to learn and try new things. I can keep what works for me, and ditch the rest. I really love hearing other people's stories, learning new things (nutrition/health-related or completely unrelated). I know another intention for this year should be reading more fiction - I really don't make time for that currently, but I love it!
Some of my favorites this past year have been:
- Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert - on creativity
- Eating in the Light of the Moon by Anita Johnston
- Playing Big by Tara Mohr
- Balance your Hormones, Balance your Life by Dr. Claudia Welsh
- The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
7. Taking Care of my Body is So Important
Taking care of my body and physical health is immensely important to me because it allows me to have energy for the rest of my life. This past year, it's meant continuing to tune into how my body feels and making some adjustments to my food or supplements (#foodasmedicine). I also did a Spectracell nutrient deficiency test and 23andMe to check for MTHFR mutations. I'm also working with a new naturopath to support myself with functional medicine. This gives me more clarity about what my body needs, as I confirmed some deficiencies I had suspected and am learning how to support my body based on my personal MTHFR genetics.
My body is unique, as is everyone's body. I need to support my own body with individualized foods or supplements or routines that nourish ME. When I work with clients, I can offer guidance, but ultimately, you know your body best.
8. Trust your Body.
Trust that your body is always seeking balance. This is something I always return to after vacations or busier times of my life. During those times, I may be eating out more often or get to less yoga classes. That's okay because when I get back home, I always crave moving my body and cooking nourishing foods. When I was in Spain, there wasn't much yoga and there was a lot of wine, but I still felt energized by walking all over the city, drinking a lot of water, and getting enough sleep. When I got home, I wanted fresh salads and yoga.
Balance isn't doing the same thing everyday. It's trusting that your body may find balance in different ways. By now, I know what makes my body feel energized and free, and I regularly engage in these wellness routines. Yet, if I don't, it's okay. I don't have to feel guilty for having chocolate or wine or lying on my couch watching Netflix all day. I ended up watching a lot of Netflix last weekend (Scandal!), but by the time Monday came around, I really didn't want to lie around and wanted to move my body instead. Trust!
A few more, quick-form way:
9. Get grounded. 10. Restorative/yin yoga is an amazing tool to relax & restore my nervous system. 11. Nature heals. 12. Put down your phone (or turn it off) more often. 13. Dance in the kitchen while cooking. (Just dance more in general!) 14. Find community & those people you can share openly with...and just laugh & play (girls night!). 15. Food is ONE part of your health & wellbeing.
Here's a free worksheet you can use to find self-care tools in your personal life. I shared it last year as well, but it's always important to return to your own care and nourishment!