In my last post I mentioned that I have used the last 3 weeks my husband has been away for a Self Care Experiment. As someone who knows what Self Care practices work for me, I admit I still let other things get in the way of actually doing them!
So I set myself an intention to prioritise it, in part to take my mind off being alone, and the experience has been delicious. Better sleep, more energy and calm, feeling more “well” in my body, and a sense of being truly connected with myself.
So what did I do?
Daily meditation, yoga, intention setting, morning smoothie, meal prep, music + kitchen dance parties, and time outside barefoot.
If you read my post on spirituality you’ll know I dabbled on and off with meditation for many years, seeing the benefits within 6 weeks but then too often dropping the habit. At my best I was meditating once every 2-3 days for a period of 20 minutes. I have meditated every morning for 15-20 minutes right after getting out of bed, brushing my teeth and grabbing some water. I started with guided meditations by Boho Beautiful, Hay House, and the Insight Timer App, just choosing whatever took my fancy or spoke to me that day. By the third week I was practicing unguided for 20-30 minutes. After each session I wrote a note of how it went to keep track. I have had all sorts of practices - some completely restless, some focused on breath, others on a single word, others on scanning feelings in my body, others in visualisation. I had moments of extreme darkness behind my eyes and some dances of beautiful optical light and shape. In one I had a clear message about a decision I was trying to make, and in another such an intense commitment to letting go of something that I got quite emotional!
I followed Yoga With Adriene’s '30 Day Yoga Journey' absolutely free on YouTube. Each day focuses on a different centreing word such as “Balance” , “Awareness” , “Truth” and the videos are between 18-30 minutes long so really easy to fit into any schedule. I tried to complete the video immediately following my morning meditation to get it all done and dusted, but some days I did leave it to later in the afternoon. What I love about this practice is Adriene’s personality - she is exactly what I mean by “igniting your spark”. She is unapologetically herself, singing mid-video, allowing her mistakes to make the cut rather than polishing every moment, and just allowing her quirky side to come through, and it is SO refreshing against the zen Yogi serenity (which is also great but this is a nice change!)
Every morning over my breakfast I have been using Claire Turnbull's 'It's a Beautiful Day' diary. What I love the most about this diary is the daily Intention, and I have found by articulating an intention every morning I feel less “flighty” throughout the day. Less pulled in a million directions, far more capable of going with the flow, and happy with whatever I do that do as being “enough”. I am not a fan of To Do Lists (a whole separate post coming on that!) and even though each page lists your To Dos, I have been very mindful about what and how much I write here. And equally forgiving about what does not get the tick by the end of the day.
With my breakfast every day I have been making a smoothie using Maca powder as a supplement I am consciously introducing. I have low oestrogen as a result of my previous disordered eating, and it has consequently affected my fertility (another one you’ll hear more on in time!) Alongside my medical action, I am taking supplements known to promote oestrogen production and cycle regulation. Some people will tell you Maca tastes like malt or caramel. They are wrong. It is a potent smell and just as potent in taste but I have perfected the art of masking it with banana, almond milk, cinnamon, and either coffee beans for a kick or spinach for a green hit. I’ll be honest, the act of drinking a smoothie in addition to my breakfast is a great sign of my own personal growth and recovery as even 2 years ago my restrictive food mindset would not have allowed this!
I don't mean vats of poached chicken and broccoli meal prep - BORING! But as a fitness instructor working the “bookend” (before and after business hours), and my husband working some nights until 9pm, it is useful for us to have some meals prepared and frozen for the evenings that our brains just say “Nup!” I also find preparing ahead supports my business rhythm as I tend to take the mornings slow and then work through the lunch window so it’s great to have lunches ready to go. I’ve made two batches of a delicious lentil stew, some homemade granola, my turkey chili, and continuous batches of roasted vegetables and chicken for my nourishing bowls (aka. throw everything you have into a bowl and top with hummus or pesto, nuts and seeds!) Too easy!
Music and Kitchen Dance Parties
Music is hugely euphoric to me. I consider it part of my spiritual practice as it reaches somewhere deep within me and makes me feel alive. So every time I am in the car Spotify goes on. Every time I am meal prepping in the kitchen it goes on. And rather than mindlessly watching TV of an evening (except for the tennis!), the music goes on. I dance, I sing, I confuse my puppy with my bursts of energy, and I become besties with myself. One track I am loving at the moment is an oldie but a goodie "None of Your Business" by Salt'n'Pepa!
It is so easy to get caught up in a task or running errands, but time outside in nature is imperative to my Self Care and my spiritual practice. It is where I feel grounded, balanced, and most grateful. Lying in sun literally re-energises me, and having a puppy who needs taking out regularly has helped! I’ve been taking him outside and using the 15-20 minutes to catch a few rays in my garden. I’ve also been taking a walk almost every day either barefoot on the beach or around my neighbourhood. Please do not underestimate the benefits to your health and wellness of the great outdoors. While walking I’ll either listen to a podcast (currently Rise Sister Rise by Rebecca Campbell), think of all the things I am grateful for, or just be present and make it a “mindful walk”. I try to avoid using it as time to think about my To-Do as this is your time to let go of stresses and responsibilities. The Monkey Mind is not invited to walk with you!
My last post was proof that I definitely still had hiccups and spectacular falls from the heights of this experiment, but I returned to these practices in those moments to re-calibrate and reset. It’s easy to practice Self Care when everything is going fabulously, but the times that it feels most like a chore are the times you need it most.
I fully intend to continue riding this wave, but am also fully prepared for it’s rhythm to change when my husband gets home. And that’s OK - it is staying up on the board that's the main thing.
I’d love to hear your self care practices so leave me a comment below!