“Self-care—the art of attuning and responding to your needs and desires, moment to moment—is not about adding something to your to-do list, it’s about cultivating a new way of being with yourself.” – Renee Trudeau
I recently delivered a keynote address at a women’s life balance event. Afterwards I visited with an attendee who asked, “I know self-care is important, but I have no idea what I need and I’m not even sure where to start!” Can you relate?
I love this question and I offered my new friend the following three “baby steps” to help her cultivate the ability to check-in on what she needs in the moment:
- Morning body scan. When you first wake up in the morning, pause before you jump out of bed. Close your eyes, take some deep breaths and slowly scan your body from the crown of your head down to your shoulders, your torso, your hips, knees, feet. Reflect on, “What do I most need today?” It could be in the physical, emotional or spiritual realm. Sometimes my body says, “Kale!” and often it’s, “You need to reschedule the 4:00 p.m. meeting, you’re over-booked.” It takes courage to respond to your needs.
- Self-compassion check-in. Research in the area of self-compassion tells us that nurturing self-touch has a significant impact on our ability to feel kinder towards ourselves. Throughout your day, pause, place your hand on the center of your chest and ask, “What do I need?” The more you do this, the more natural it starts to feel. You can even practice this in a work meeting or in the midst of an argument; no one will even know that you’re working on self-nurturing.
- “Quickie” journaling. My favorite “quickie” journaling exercise to do whenever I feel out of alignment, overwhelmed or triggered, is simply pausing to check-in on the following three questions (I keep a little journal/pen in my car and purse at all times): How do I feel? What do I need? What do I want? Women around the world who participate in our monthly Personal Renewal Groups have been asking these three simple questions for 17 years – it’s amazing how effective they are for helping you quickly reconnect to your needs and desires.
If you’re just starting a self-care practice and this is new to you, remember: baby steps, be curious and invite in self-compassion. Believing you are worthy of self-care and that it’s your birthright is a radical stance and takes courage. Ask for help –I’d love to support you–and surround yourself with people who are self-care advocates. This makes all the difference in how you experience the journey (read more about the value of support)!