The next 11 days are when self-care really matters. Old tradition, new tradition, familiar faces, strangers, smells and sounds that elicit memories, uncomfortable situations, seeing the bank account and even yes, feeling loved, each are feedback, a message for you: "Self-Care STAT!"
When the concept of self care was first introduced to me, the thought of showering every day overwhelmed me and I still didn’t know how to work the dishwasher. I quickly learned that I could not simply take someone else’s self care plan and apply it to my life – I would have to design my own plan that was specific to my life, my needs, my abilities and my resources. People could provide suggestions and I could gather inspiration from outside sources, but what I really needed to do was get quiet and listen to my body. I held my knees to my chest and I asked myself, “what is it that I am doing that is making me so tired and what do you need from me right now?”
The first order of business was to learn to have fun. The inner child in me was feeling neglected and forgotten, and it had been a long time since I had connected with the playful side of myself in a healthy way. For me, this looked like playing broom ball with friends, going bowling, singing karaoke or having a game night. I allowed myself to be rambunctious and excited, remembering how to be light hearted and fully immersed in the present moment. The second thing I could feel my heart longing for was meaningful human connection. Even though it was terrifying and uncomfortable, I picked up the phone and called people; I asked friends to go and get coffee with me; I got vulnerable and talked about what was really going on with me. I let down my walls and allowed myself to be seen.
The third request came from my body: it felt slothful and heavy and it was begging to be heard and for me to learn how to care for myself properly. So I began by speaking to my body each morning, thanking it for carrying me through life so faithfully and affirming that it deserved to be nurtured and loved. I pushed myself to get outside and exercise; it started with walking a couple of times a day, and eventually blossomed into running, weight lifting, climbing and yoga. I learned how to cook so that I could fuel my body properly, and began reading books to help address my unhealthy relationship with food. The final piece of my journey was spirituality. There was something in me that innately needed to connect and get grounded. A consistent practice of prayer, meditation, incense, energy work and reading books was first. But there is no limit to the methods we can use.
This Holiday season, I dare you to get very quiet and in this moment ask yourself – what do I need right now? Noise and motion will tempt you, but returning to this practice will help a whisper become something more noticeable on a daily basis.