You are busy. You have a demanding job, a long to-do list, a family to take care of. How on earth can you find the time and energy for yourself? Here are a few suggestions on how you can practice self-care that we can learn from gardeners. After all, we are living and breathing organisms that require nurturing and care to flourish, just like plants in a garden.
1. Plant the seeds. First, you must decide to make self-care a priority. If self-care is not important in your mind, you will never have time for it. Most of us just don't bother with unimportant things. On the other hand, if you set the intention that you will take a better care of yourself, things will begin to shift with the right approach - first in your mind, then in your attitude, and finally, in your behavior. To get healthy growth, you must plant the seeds.
2. Watch the sprouts. Once you've planted the seeds of your intention, strengthen it with attention and awareness. Many of us go about our days without paying attention to how we feel until we get a headache, or our blood pressure spikes, or we feel some other kind of pain. At that point, our bodies almost scream to get attention. A better approach is to take brief moments throughout the day and check with yourself about how you feel. Here's how you can do it: Close your eyes for a moment, take a few deep breaths, and notice any sensations in your body. Are you thirsty? Do you feel a bit stiff in your neck or your lower back? Does it feel really good to keep your eyes closed? How are you feeling emotionally? The point is just to be present and aware.
3. Nurture your growth. Once you recognize what your body wants, oblige it, if possible, with a quick stretch, a few shoulder rolls, a glass of fresh water, or a brisk walk even if it's just around your office building. To get an emotional uplift, consider creating a "bliss bank" - a collection of images, clippings, knickknacks, music play lists, quotes, your kids' or pets' photos that inspire you and make you feel better. Draw from your bliss bank as you need it and don't forget to replenish it with more "blissful" items.
4. Use the right tools. Pay attention to how the physical space and tools you use make you feel. Do you have enough light in your work space? How is that clutter affecting you? Is your chair comfortable? Perhaps, it's time to splurge on some great office accessories to make your work more fun. The presence of indoor plants has been shown to improve brain function. We often underestimate the effect of small things on our well-being.
5. Control the climate. What tends to put you off balance? Make a list of your typical emotional triggers, stress factors, physical elements that drain your energy or upset you. Think about how you can minimize their effect on you. Remember that it is your perception of the situation that defines your reality. You can choose to respond differently. How would you want to react in that situation? Do a visualization exercise and run the desired scenario in your head like a movie. Do you see yourself calm and confident? It takes practice to distance yourself and not to get sucked into the negative energy whirlpool, but planning ahead will make it easier. Remember an image or a sound that brings peace and calmness to you. Take a few deep breaths, redirecting your mind to a pleasant memory or something you are excited about.
6. Pluck the weeds. What negative triggers can you eliminate altogether? Sometimes, you need to redraw your personal and professional boundaries to make more room for yourself. Look at all of your commitments and ask yourself how realistic it is to maintain them and practice self-care. What can you let go of?
7. Take time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. The garden receives your care, nourishment and attention, and in return, it offers you its beauty, it nurtures your senses, and it gives you nourishment. The better you care for your garden, the more you receive from it. It's the same with people. When we are depleted of energy and emotions, we cannot give much to others. So, don't consider yourself selfish just because you occasionally decide to put your needs first. Instead, ask yourself how practicing self-care can help you be better and kinder to others.
Do you want to learn more self-care practices? Join us for "Spice It Up" With Yoga + Herbs: Self-Care, Sensuality And A Heart Full of Love 4-Week Virtual Retreat