It's time to think about YOU.
Now that summer has come to a close (Fall Equinox was Thursday Sept 22) it's time to do some self reflection and notice where you are in your life. Autumn is a wonderful time to refocus on any intentions you have for this year, especially those nurturing habits that support your overall wellness. As the weather cools (and the holiday season threatens to rev everything up to high stress level) it's beneficial to your mental, physical and spiritual health that you treat yourself as someone who deserves loving, nurturing care.
I consciously started thinking about my own loving, nurturing care (Self Care) several years ago when I turned 40. It's an area of my life that I continuously focus my attention on because, bottom line, it does not come easy to me. As children, many of us were taught to be people pleasers and put other's needs before our own. To untangle those old habits takes conscious effort, and after doing that work, I now know that filling my well of self care helps me to be more of the person I want to be, for myself as well as for others. This post is about some of my own self care practices that I've cultivated over the years. I hope they will inspire you to either add self care into your day or to recommit to the practice you already have.
Starting with the most vital part of my self care...SLEEP.
I go to bed by 10 PM. If your jaw hits the table when you read that, just know there are studies showing that the most regenerative sleep is between 10 PM - 2 AM. There is also a supportive study done by the National Sleep Foundation that details why women need more sleep than men. Goggle it and you will be multitasking, but that is one reason why women need more sleep--we use more of our brain on a daily basis than men do and therefore our need for sleep is greater. Fascinating! If this is new for you and it seems impossible to be asleep by 10, try getting in bed by 10 and take it from there.
By the way, I turn my phone off at night. Maybe you feel the need to be available to all people at all hours, but please read the research regarding the benefits of turning off your phone, of not using it as an alarm clock & also not checking it first thing when you wake up. And then explore any guilt you have about not being available every second of every waking and sleeping moment of your life. Letting go of the people pleasing can be difficult! But not feeling the pull of the phone/internet allows for some really good pre-sleep reading time in bed.
Meditation. I meditate when I wake up in the morning when my apartment is quiet and my son still asleep. But to begin my meditation ritual, I first enjoy a piping hot cup of Earl Grey tea. Having ritual helps establish consistency and consistency is a fundamental part of any self care practice. The choreographer Twyla Tharp says her daily morning dance practice begins with her getting into the taxi that transports her to the studio. Getting in the taxi at the same time every day begins Twyla Tharp's practice, just as sipping my fragrant tea is the initial element that begins my morning meditation practice. And if my son wakes up before I sit down to meditate, well then, at least I've enjoyed hot my tea. On the days my meditation does get interrupted I just pick it up again at another part of my day. After all, my meditation practice begins with my morning tea and I am committed to following through with the whole ritual.
YOGA. Did I mention that I have a competitive, Type A personality? And that in the Indian Ayurvedic philosophy I am a Pitta, or fire, type? Luckily, I got into yoga early in my 20's and have had a healthy way to channel my energy for good, not for fighting! Plus my yoga practice got me into my own body, which was great for noticing my own feelings in relation to my people-pleasing patterns. When I was younger I practiced yoga asana six mornings a week for two hours. I had a lot of stuff to work through and yoga was awesome in helping me do that. Now, twenty-something years into my practice, I am more able to be in the moment and to get into what works for me on a given day. That might be moving my body for ten-minutes or with a full hour yoga sequence. And on some mornings I just drink tea and sit on my couch enjoying the quiet. On those days I might do a yoga sequence in the evening, on my son's floor while he drifts off to sleep. Listening to my body and going with the flow is great self care that I've cultivated through my yoga practice.
So, those are the basics of my self care routine. Reading in bed, sleep, hot tea, meditation, moving my body and listening to myself and what I need. I will leave it there for now, but in my next post I will write about the self care rituals I am currently adding into my routine (sitting on the couch is one of them).
Happy Equinox everyone! What self care will you do over the autumn season?