I continue to swirl in a vortex of feelings after the amazing Women’s March on Austin this past weekend (read Why I Am Marching). It was incredibly powerful and emotionally exhausting. As a result of all the stimulation and tumult from the previous seven days, my family’s diet and well-being didn’t get the care it deserved. But I know that self-care –especially in these times–is more essential than ever. When it comes to nourishing and grounding myself, here are 9 key practices I can’t live without:
1. I begin my day intentionally. I love my 20 minute morning meditation practice. But if things are hectic, I find that even when I take 5 minutes to start my day with a clear intention, gratitude practice, prayer or stillness, this has a huge impact on how the rest of my day flows. My husband, son and I also do morning “power circles” right before we head out the door when one of us is having a hard time or needs extra support. I’m also a big fan of the “eight hugs a day” club; touch is powerful.
2. I make pleasure-full movement a priority. My favorite ways to move my body include yoga, vigorous walks with friends around the lake and Nia dance. I often have to juggle like crazy to make this happen and always have to plan in advance to build this in, but daily, enjoyable movement is a non-negotiable for me at this life stage.
3. I eat foods that make me feel great (most of the time!) and ask, “What would really nourish us right now?” before I decide what’s for dinner. This also means planning ahead and keeping the fridge and pantry stocked with lots of my favorite staples: hummus, a variety of nuts and nut butters, fruits/veggies, garbanzo and black beans for salads and dips, green, mint and ginger teas, etc. I love the clean, quick, GF recipes in It’s All Good and It’s All Easy by Gwyneth Paltrow.
4. I take breakfast seriously. I find if I start the day eating protein, it helps me maintain steady blood sugar levels and has a huge impact on how I feel in the late afternoon. I like to drink a cup of warm water and lemon immediately upon waking to “get things moving.” Then it’s often a spinach omelet or breakfast tacos, steel cut oatmeal with blueberries/almonds and soy milk, goat’s milk yogurt with fruit and nuts or if we’re in a hurry, apples with almond butter and whole grain bagels.
5. I build in time with friends who let me show up “warts and all.” Heartfelt face-to-face connection is key to lowering stress hormones and keeping perspective. Ideally it’s a lunch, evening women’s circle or walking date, but even a good 15 min. phone call with a dear friend boosts my mood.
6. I take time to pause and rest. Pausing to ask, “What is mine to do?” helps me use my energy more effectively (critical to running two businesses). These pauses also help me tune in and ask my body what it needs: one of my hormonal balancing tinctures, some B Complex, Vitamin C or a nap? For the past year, I have started taking 20 min. afternoon rests almost every afternoon. Now in my fifties, I believe this will be key to creating sustainability throughout the decades to come.
7. I walk on the earth (ideally barefoot). Even if it’s just 5 minutes of pulling weeds in the backyard or refilling the bird bath, 10 minutes in my hammock or walking to the park and back after dinner with family, I find connecting with the natural world has a calming effect on my nervous system and helps me reset and shake off any “funk.”
8. I make eating dinner with my family a priority. I find it helps me feel grounded and connected to share a meal with those I love. Family dinners also help lower stress levels, allow us to talk about our day and feel seen and heard, and it’s an opportunity to be fully present (phones stay on the kitchen counter) while we nourish our hearts as well as our bodies.
9. I prepare for a good night’s sleep. After dinner, we make it a priority to relax and unwind. It’s not a time to get stuff done, it’s time to let the busyness of the day fall away. Sometimes this means embracing a “good is good enough,” attitude and letting the house be messy, clothes pile up, work deadlines wait and scrounging in the pantry for lunch fixings for my son so I don’t have to hit the store. I love late evening walks with my husband or neighbor, delicious aromatherapy baths, gentle yoga stretches before bed (legs up the wall is my favorite) and I snuggle down by 9:30 with something inspirational to read. At 10:00 p.m. it’s lights out, usually after a short calming, breathing exercise.
Honestly, I feel shy and hesitant about sharing my personal self-care practice and rituals. I don’t ever want anyone to think there is a right or wrong way to practice self-care (read more about how I define self-care). I also don’t see self-care as something you need to add to your to-do list, but rather it’s about cultivating a new relationship with yourself. And, I have found that often, the more we hear what self-care practices our friends are committed to, the more curious and motivated we become about adding to, changing or enhancing ours.
I’d love to hear what self-care practices you can’t live without! Let’s create some self-care waves by sharing these and make a kinder way of being with ourselves the norm, rather than the exception.
INVITE: Want support for accessing your Wise Self and hearing what your next steps should be while learning my favorite self-care practices for uncertain times? Join me Feb. 3-5 for Embracing the Wild Unknown: Women’s Self-Renewal Retreat at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health and view all our upcoming retreats.
P.S. Self-employed and live in Texas? I’m creating a new, Austin-based intentional community for soulful, creative entrepreneurial women with at least 5-7 year experience. Still a couple of spots left for UNLEASHED: Mastermind Workshops for Enlightened Entrepreneurs–our first gathering, this Friday, Jan. 27 from 2-5 p.m. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by life balance speaker/coach and Career Strategists president, Renée Peterson Trudeau. Offering custom self-renewal workshops/retreats, training, books/telecourses and individual career coaching her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Spirituality & Health and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining Personal Renewal Groups based on her award-winning curriculum. She is the author of The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal and Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 14 year-old son. More on her background here.