I have a confession to make: self-care is really hard for me. Yes, I preach the importance of it all the time to my clients, friends, and family and I truly believe in what I am saying. Self-care is key to a healthy and happy life. But when it comes to my own life I am constantly finding myself prioritizing the needs of others ahead of my own. Even when I know deep down that I really need some time to myself, I often put other things first and usually it is my husband who steps in to make sure that I get the break I need (thank goodness for great husbands!).
But this summer I had two wonderful experiences that really brought home how healing making that time for you can be. For me, self-care can look like sleep or yoga, but it can also involve pushing myself outside of my comfort zone. And, in fact, the challenging experiences are often much more satisfying and reinvigorating for me than the more mellow ones are. This was the case with these two experiences.
One of my adventures was to use a trapeze for the first time. In this case I really had to push past a number of fears: my fear of jumping from a great height, my fear of doing something I wasn’t sure I could do in front of other people, and my fear of letting someone down (the final step of my trapeze experience was making a “catch” with another person, who was depending on my ability and timing). By taking the chance and putting myself out there I found a source of courage that I didn’t know (or forgotten) that I had. Rediscovering that sense of self was incredibly rejuvenating and inspiring for others aspects of my life.
Similarly, just yesterday I had the opportunity to hike a 14,000-foot mountain in Colorado. This was an incredibly challenging hike for me, especially due to the altitude, and really pushed me to dig deep into my resources and find endurance that I wasn’t sure I had. In this case, I learned a great deal about how to ask for help (in order to make this hike possible I had to arrange 24+ hours of child care for my boys—thank goodness for wonderful parents) and how to admit my needs—like taking breathing breaks as I was struggling up the final ascent. I had to admit when I was tired, I had to admit that I was struggling, but I was also able to acknowledge and honor my determination to make it to the top. And I made it!
Both of these experiences really reignited my passion and excitement about my body, my strength, and myself. They helped me to remember that I am a mother, a wife, a friend, a member of many communities, but I am also just me, and that I have to honor that as well.
When I am working with clients self-care often comes in the context of finding balance and joy in life. Most of my clients come to me because they have concerns about their or their family’s diet and I often tell them that while cooking healthy food for yourself and your family is important, a large factor in the food decisions that we make throughout the day is based on our emotional well-being. When we are stressed, tired, or unhappy we are more likely to seek solace in food, to console ourselves with treats, to fill those emotional voids with snacks. I often encourage my clients to seek out ways to find balance and happiness for themselves and now I will work even harder to remember that I need to make that space for myself too.
How do you make time for yourself? What are your favorite ways to practice self-care?