Your body is a temple. It’s a vehicle to your spirit. It houses all of you and who you are. Take care of it. Love it. Nurture it. Pamper it. Be proud of it. Parade it ( I didn’t say expose it, but if you want to, then….). Take time for self. Allow yourself to love you like you love the love of your life, unconditionally.
We care for all those around us, our lovers, children, parents, community, etc. But, we leave ourselves out of the caring circle. That’s a big no, no. Caring for your husband or lover, your children or your parents more than you care for yourself is not noble, it’s nonsense. If you do so, eventually you’ll find yourself incapable of caring for any of them effectively, and that’s not what you want.
I had my first daughter when I was 19 years old, so from then through 38 – 39, I lived a life where my dreams didn’t matter. I put my desires aside so members of my household could have theirs fulfilled. My job was just to support them. It made me happy that they were happy. On the outside all seemed well. I was well put together, dressed well, had a great job and all my shit seemed straight. But, on the inside, I felt like crap, because I was not living my purpose. I was not living my life to it’s true potential, and I was miserable. No one asked, “what do you really want?” It was up to me to ask myself that question, and I did. The answer propelled me to follow my heart and a new path to find my purpose in life. And along that path I had a mind, body, spirit awakening, which allowed me to identify my authentic self and helped me in the process of genuinely caring for myself.
The key is to care for yourself, first or simultaneously. Nurture yourself holistically: body, mind and spirit. Then you’ll find that your ability to care for those around you will soar. You will be much better equipped to effectively take on the responsibilities for those who depend on you. I know that it’s easier said than done, but trust me, just do it. You know, like Nike. Just do it.
I understand, you’ve been doing this – caring for others and not yourself – for years. It’s become your way of life, and you know of no other way. It’s just the way it is. Well, it doesn’t have to be that way, especially if you don’t want it to be that way. I’m not advising you to relinquish your responsibility to those who depend on you. I’m advising you to retain your sense of self, health and purpose. In doing so, you’ll experience much less of all the horrible emotions that you’ve been feeling and trying to deal with.
Here are 5 things that you can do to incorporate better self-care into your life:
♦ Eat well. This is the foundation for wellness. Fueling your body with the resources it needs to energize you. A clean, balanced diet that includes, protein, healthy fats, good carbs will take you a long way. But it’s aye, ok to have your favorite, non fat-free ice-cream or cookie on the weekend.
♦ Pursue your passion. Whatever it is, do more of it. Passion makes people happy and hopeful. It may not be your 9-5 job, but it may be a hobby that you set aside because you couldn’t find the time to squeeze it into your routine. Make time for it, even if it’s one hour a day, after work. The happiness that it’ll bring you can take you a long way. If you passions turns into your purpose and a business then even better. But give yourself the opportunity to figure out what you love. You never know where it can lead you.
♦ Breathe using the 7-11 technique, one of a few that I use. We all go through stressful situations. Some are minor and some are enormous and feel like they will squeeze the life out of you. Breathe through your stress. For the 7-11, take a deep breath in through the nose and count to 7, then exhale very slowly through the mouth on a count of 11. Do this until you feel that tension that’s build up in you begin to ebb. You can also try the 4-7-8 technique by Dr. Andrew Weil.
♦ Invest in your wardrobe. You know your budget. You know what you can and cannot afford. Don’t worry about what people might say or think; that’s exhausting. Who are you? You are a woman of worth, worthy of a beautiful life and beautiful things if you so desire. One of the major reasons so many women are so depressed and unmotivated is because of the way look and ultimately feel. They are unsatisfied with their appearance. The way you look will absolutely affect the way you feel. You can do something about that. Invest in some quality pieces of clothing, shoes and accessories. Make yourself look as beautiful on the outside as you are on the inside. Dress up when you go out. If you want to be in high spirits, wearing pajama pants and sweat pants anywhere but to bed and to the gym is a big no, no. There is not reason you should feel embarrassed or make excuses to anyone about wanting to put your best self forward.
♦ Get out the house. Get a life, if you want one. Stop making the children’s needs and your husband’s or lover’s needs the excuse for doing nothing with yourself. Stop making work be the culprit that keeps you in the do nothing with yourself pit. Go to dinner with your friends, family, hubby. Take a road trip for the weekend. Go to networking meetings close by if you have time constraints.
♦ Be still. Slow down. Stop rushing. Sit and chew you food, not cut and swallow. All that running around is exhausting, and at the end of the day you don’t even know what you’ve done. You don’t appreciate anything about your day. There are enough hours in the day to get stuff done if you plan well, and if not there’s tomorrow, and if tomorrow never comes, oh well, it wasn’t meant to be done. Take time to enjoy the journey that’s your day. Take a moment and watch the people walk on by. Make a commitment to truly enjoy at least one thing about your day.
So now that you’re made the decision to take better care of yourself because you’re worth it, watch the difference in how you care for those around you. And you’ll certainly admire and love that woman who’s simmered down, and shouts less, and handles stress like a champion, is glowing more, looks fabulous and brings her best at all times. You will be empowered by you. Your care circle would be happier too. I assure you.
Dixie Lincoln- Nichols is a biological science educator, health and wellbeing consultant and Qigong instructor. Her work has been featured in media outlets like, Oprah Mag, SELF, Yahoo and more. She is the founder of Inside Outer Beauty Market, a multi-cultutal retailer curating and creating products to support the body inside and out. Visit the site at www.iobeautymarket.com