A leaf found while harvesting fruits at an orchard in Pescadero, CA
I didn’t realize the importance of self-love until my mid-thirties. “Love others first”. The idea of putting others first was engrained in my mind since I was a young child. I took it literally for years and still do in my personal and professional life. There was a time in my life, I felt completely depleted because I was consistently doing too much. I felt I had nothing more to give. For someone who is a giver, this can be devastating. It was at this time that I realized the importance of self-care. I have increased my daily self-care practices because I finally recognized how much happier, productive and efficient I am when my basic needs are met.
My morning starts with a meditation practice & a sit down breakfast. During the day, I use the hourly stretch break reminder on my desktop to stretch and move. I am a believer in the saying “sitting is the new smoking”. Sitting for long periods of time has been correlated with health concerns such as cardiovascular disease, obesity and metabolic syndrome (a condition which consists of high blood, pressure, high blood sugar, high triglyceride, low high density lipo-protein (HDL) and excess body fat around the waist). I move throughout the day by doing one of the following depending on my body’s needs: 20 minute lunchtime walk/yoga in my office, 5-10 minutes of weights (biceps, triceps, abs, lunges, etc) or 30seconds of jumping jacks.
One major lesson I learned over the years is to listen to my body. Our bodies are capable of telling us what we need if we pay attention. If we fulfill those needs in the moment, we are likely to feel content. For instance, our hypothalamus, a part of the brain that detects thirst lets us know when we are thirsty. I found that thirst and hunger were two things I was very attuned to in my body. I would easily get irritated if I was hungry or dehydrated. Now, I eat regularly and when I am hungry. This prevents me from stress eating and overeating.
Now as I’m getting older, I realize that self-time is very important. For me this means going to a gentle yoga class, a bike ride, a nourishing dinner or relaxing with a movie after work to recharge my body from the day’s stressors. It took me a long time to recognize that rest is an important part of self-care and not just while I am sleeping but throughout my day.
My Self-Care practices: (DESA)
Diet (Nourishing whole foods as much as possible)
Exercise (daily movement that makes me happy)
Sleep (7-9hours of restful sleep daily)
Awareness (Pay attention to the physical and emotional body, then take action to meet your needs)
Lastly, I realize that we are evolving beings, every moment things change. I am aware that these practices fulfill my current self-care needs, but tomorrow I may need something different. I practice non-attachment, which is a recently learned behavior and an ongoing process for me. Being kind and gentle to our thoughts and our bodies on a daily basis is critical for our well-being.
What are some daily healthy behaviors you do for yourself that energizes you, rejuvenates you, recharges you?