This time last month I was in a state. I was mid website-launch, mid week-long course with new information, new people – 150! – and new journeys, and trying somehow to continue with the rest of my life – teaching, eating, sleeping sometimes, and making sure significant others weren’t going to worry that I had fallen down a hole somewhere. I was so tired and clumsy I managed to hit myself in the head with a metal chair.
It really hurt. I tried to pretend it didn’t for a while, but as soon as I knew it was safe to cry, oh the tears flowed (why I couldn’t give myself that permission immediately is a whole other story, and the subject of my next blog…)
As the tears flowed and my head throbbed I realised just how exhausted I was. Which was ironic, because I was spending a lot of my time writing about the importance of looking after yourself. So, I made some decisions.
Those decisions have made a huge difference to how I feel, and so I would like to share them with you. Just yesterday (on day 3 of my period) one colleague asked if I had been on holiday, and another said I was looking ‘radiant’. I haven’t been on holiday – what I have been doing is practising radical self-care.
I say radical, not because the acts are all that crazy – in fact the beauty of it is they are pretty simple – but because for so many of us, self-care is so hard! We don’t know how to do it – we think watching tv counts – and in most of us there is even a part that believes it’s wrong. We are taught that working insane hours is good, being dutiful and responsible is good, being clever is good – and that we can relax with a cup of tea when we’ve ‘earned’ it. Because then we ‘deserve’ it don’t we.
You know what? You deserve better than that – you deserve to look after yourself the way you would care for a vulnerable child. Because the paradoxical truth is, the more you admit your fragility and give yourself the deep nurture you need, the stronger you become – maybe not in the way our society views strength – but on the inside. And that’s where it counts.
So don’t wait until you accidentally self-harm yourself with a metal chair – or suffer adrenal burnout, fatigue, or any other stress-related disorder – start caring for yourself NOW
Here are my top 3 tips for Self-Care induced radiance
1. TAKE TIME FOR SILENCE
The tv hasn’t been working for about 3 weeks now. I have a hunch it’s something very simple – like the plug has come loose at the wall – but I haven’t even looked. I am loving it! When I come in now I take a cup of tea – generally roibos with almond milk or honey – and sit on a chair in the garden. I plant my toes in the grass, close my hands around the warm mug and shut my eyes, feeling the fading sun on my face. I taste each sip of tea. It’s a kind of meditation – an awareness of all that is around me.
2. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
The problem with fad diets and intense exercise routines is that they take away the power of intuition. When we really listen, without any pre-existing ideas or shoulds n shouldn’ts, we know what we need. Some yogis get up every single morning and do the same routine! Whether they are tired, stressed, have a manic day ahead of them or an empty one – they do the same thing! Maybe that works for them. To me, it makes no sense. My job is generally active, so I don’t need to do an hour and half full-on vinyasa flow every morning. I would deplete my energy. If I’m having a computer day, some flow yoga is perfect, but otherwise it’s more important for me to practise being still, quiet and grounded – to meditate, or practise yin yoga. It’s about listening, and giving your body what it needs, not what someone outside of you has prescribed you need. You know best – when you deeply listen, and trust the messages you are sent.
3. LOOK AT THE WORLD – AND YOURSELF – WITH SOFT EYES
I do yoga, drama and care work with children with special needs, and they have taught me this one. Some of them come up so close and search deep into my eyes like they’re looking for something, and I gaze back and see souls so open, pure and beautiful. These children, on paper, have so many things ‘wrong’ with them, so many things to struggle with and through, yet every day I spend with them I am inspired by how much happiness they find in simple things, and how large their grins are. They remind me of the bigger picture – of what’s really important – not tests and levels, but love and laughter – and I try to take this view out with me into my world, into my other relationships, and into my relationship with myself. A soft view, instead of a harsh, judgemental one, changes everything. Like they say, there’s no such thing as truth – only perception – so choose to perceive with love.
I’d love to know your top self-care tips! Head over to my Self-Care Sunday Facebook group and share your top tips to be in for a chance to win a ticket to the next Self-Care Sunday, spreading joy and care through London on May 4th. Competition ends this Saturday – April 19th.