Yes, I’m going to bed at the same time each night, staying tech-free after 8 p.m., getting daily exercise, steering clear of caffeine and generally staying with my same calming before-bed routine each night, but I’m 47 and my hormone levels are changing as fast as the Texas weather! In order to get good sleep, I have to be disciplined—sometimes militant—about my self-care practice if I want to get a solid night’s rest (right now, this means eating dinner early and avoiding sugar). Ugh.
Bummer, right? Do you think self-care (the practice of attuning and responding to your needs and desires) is easy and all about pleasure? It can be—read more–but self-care can also look like this:
“My daily meditation practice requires me to get up each day at 6 a.m. in order to fit this in before carpooling and work. Yuck! I’m not a morning person. But taking time to start my day this way has been life-changing—so I stick to it. Even when I feel like turning off the alarm and crawling under the covers.” John
“I can find a million reasons why I should cancel my twice a week morning walks with my neighbor, Jan. It takes a lot of juggling to fit these in and often, I’m so tired at the end of the day, all I really want to do is lie on the couch. But these walks feed me physically, emotionally and spiritually. They help me release stress, sleep better and help me go with-instead of against—the flow of life.” Susan
“On the days I am rested I feel like I can conquer the world, but on the days where I stayed up the night before to watch a movie, play games online or just piddle around the house, I feel like crap. One of the kindest things I can do for myself is to adhere to a 10 p.m. bedtime. It’s really hard and takes every ounce of discipline I have to get to bed at this early hour-but, ultimately, it’s worth it.” Joe
“Taking time to plan out/shop for what we’ll have for dinner during the week can feel like a grueling chore. I’d much rather pick up tacos at a drive thru or order Chinese take-out. But I’ve noticed a huge difference in my mood and my family’s when we take time to create a healthy veggie-laden meal and sit down and enjoy something we’ve actually cooked together. It takes extra work on my part but in the long run, the payoffs outweigh the hassle.” Ellen
I’ve been teaching and practicing the art of balanced living for more than 15 years (read more about my 4 life balance strategies) and self-care is a cornerstone for enhancing well-being. As activist and cancer survivor Audrey Lorde says, “Self-care is not just about self-indulgence, it’s about self-preservation.” It’s as essential as oxygen. And it’s critical to helping us work and parent effectively, be our best selves, make wise, grounded choices and navigate life feeling “full,” rather than “depleted.”
I speak and lead workshops and retreats around the country on work-life balance and the power of self-care (whether you’re an employee at IBM, a mom with three kids or you head up a small consulting firm—we all need this). One thing I hear again and again at the end of my interactive presentations is, “Wow, when I actually stop and check in—I already know what I need to feel more alive, whole and balanced. I’m just not doing it!”
What do you need? Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? Are you willing to take the necessary steps to support your well-being (not in a “crack the whip” way—but with kindness and compassion)? And with the support of others. “How bad do you want to feel good?” I don’t know about you, but at this life stage, I’m pretty darn motivated to do whatever it takes.
Help is here! Want some support for exploring what self-care looks like for you? Consider leading or joining a self-care group for women, taking a retreat with me (read more on why retreats?), hiring one of our coaches for one-on-one support or picking up a copy of my newest life balance book Nurturing the Soul of Your Family (not just for parents!). You can also find great *free* resources here. Let us know how we can support you!
*BOOK GIVEWAY* Want to win two signed copies of my brand new Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life (including some powerful meditations, exercises, ideas and fresh, new perspectives and tools)? Just “like” our Nurturing the Soul of Your Family Facebook page and share in the comments section below on one self-care action or practice you’d be willing to commit to for April. When we voice it, we own it—I can’t wait to hear from you!
Live Inside Out is a weekly blog written by life balance teachers/speaker author Renée Peterson Trudeau. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping and numerous media outlets. Thousands of women in ten countries are participating in Personal Renewal Groups based on her first book, The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and son. More on her background here.