Last night's restorative/gentle yoga class featured a theme revolving on self-care. We don't think twice when doing things to care for a small baby, and yet we suffer through cram-packed schedules, bad food choices, and hours of commuting without (almost) blinking an eye. Why do we do these things to ourselves? Are we taking good enough care of ourselves as our official, sole caretakers?
This premise really made me stop and think. Self care is a strong current this year for me. So have I been making enough of an effort to meet my new year's resolution of structuring my day and incorporating new, positive habits? Maybe.
One good thing I've done is organized myself on Sundays (well, most of the time) so I can prepare breakfast smoothies and oatmeal for the week ahead, stored in my favorite mason jars. Comforting, nutritious, and filling food choices that help me kick start my workday, create a routine to establish a comfort level, and provide enough energy to motor through most of my day.
One downfall, that has sneaked back in without my realizing it, is that I've started treating myself again to, often sweetened, coffee beverages. Caffeine, especially in the form of coffee beverages (worse if sweetened) are actually a no-no because it sets up my system for a cycle of highs and lows that exhaust me. As an example, yesterday I had a sweetened espresso beverage, an extremely small one at that, and experienced increased energy, enthusiasm, joy, impatience, irritability, depression, and tears within the span of about two hours prior to my yoga class. That's a bit much, yes? Even if the excuse I'm using is to try to keep a new favorite coffee shop in business, those little caffeinated emotional bombs really need to stop. By stepping back, observing, and making mental notes I can do right by my body...and my wallet!
One of my favorite blogs, The Actor's Diet, is by an Asian-American actress, Lynn Chen, in California who also experiences self-care issues relating to mood, energy-level, and food choices. She recently lost her father, so she's also been discussing loss and recovery--something I've been experiencing since both my grandmothers passed away in 2011. Lynn is an ambassador for National Eating Disorders Association and posts about her challenges on the Thick Dumpling Skin blog. She's a fascinating and inspiring woman and I am so happy I discovered her blog(s) last year.
One thing that I've been meditating on often is what does satiety mean to me? So, in essence, what I'm really asking myself is why does the empty space, a pause in my schedule, or brief distraction become stressful to manage? I strongly believe that we can all retrain ourselves to be satisfied/satiated by the emptiness and lull that occasionally comes our way--it's tricky to learn to enjoy it, but doable!
The feeling of not having to do/say/behave a particular way can become anxiety-causing when we're so used to doing things a specific way--most of the time because we believe others expect it of us, when in reality it's just a choice we make. The space and emptiness that come from not having too many activities and noise, lets our heart rate slow down, our breathing deepen in our chest, and our posture to relax. Our head stops swimming/spinning with details, reminders, and foreshadowing a next potential crisis.
It's tricky learning what sets one off or replenishes, when we're really going after the golden apple in someone else's rat race. Learning to heed the cues, and making enough space to enjoy the...well, space, is vitally important for our well being.
The space inside our minds, our bodies, and in our day create a lovely little buffer--not unlike a warm comforting blanket. Isn't it? Let's strive to reach for this blanket more often, when the next opportunity arises.
Remember to treat yourself like the most delicate, priceless possession because that's what you are.